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Ricky Gervais: he used to be funny; now he tweets about cats

Another day, another heart-rending, animal-related tweet from Ricky Gervais, who has abandoned his once promising career as an irreverent and outspoken comedian in order to capitalise on the internet’s insatiable appetite for stories about cats, puppies and social injustice.

It’s a canny move – and exactly the kind of transition I would have advised myself had I been Ricky’s agent.

“Ricky, remember that time when you were funny?” I would have asked harshly but fairly. “Neither can I. And neither can any of those people out there who only know you for Derek, An Idiot Abroad, Life’s Too Short, Night At The Museum, Night At The Museum: Battle of The Smithsonian and Night at the Museum: Secret Of The Tomb.”

Ricky would have tried to buy me off at this point with one of his trademark sharky grins. But I would have just sucked on my cigar and waited for his non-cosmetically-enhanced trademark smile to fade…

“Your career as a comedian is over,” I would have said. “Like John Cleese, you are an ex-comic. Your wit has passed on. Your zaniness is no more. Your humorousness has ceased to be. Your jokes have expired and gone to meet their maker…”

Ricky would probably have tried to distract me with an amusing David-Brent-style dance. But it wouldn’t have washed. Once he’d stopped I’d have said:

“That’s the bad news. The good news is, I’ve got the perfect way out. Carla Lane who wrote Bread did it; Brigitte Bardot did it; Leo Di Caprio’s done it and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do it either. You’ve got to turn yourself into one of these freako animal rights celebrities that bang on all the time about rescue ponies and polar bears and who can’t see a pack of stray rabid pi dogs besides the road in Calcutta without wanting to ship them back to Los Angeles in their private jets and rehouse them in a purpose-built Petarium next to the swimming pool with Hispanic staff to wait on them paw and paw. Could you do that, Ricky? Could you?”

Ricky: “Well, yeah. I guess. If you really think my comedy career is…”

Agent Me: “Better not mention it, ever again. It sleeps with the fishes.”

Ricky: “OK, well what I was going to say was, I do like animals. And I am on the record as having campaigned for animal causes like trying to stop the guards outside Buckingham Palace wearing hats made of actual bearskin.”

Agent Me: “I remember it well. It was for PETA, wasn’t it? “Bearskins are no laughing matter,” it said. Very clever positioning for your new move into anti-comedy.”

Ricky: “There is a slight problem, mind. When Stephen Merchant and I were filming our mate Karl in An Idiot Abroad, we did have him do one or two cruel things to animals – the toads and the camels come to mind – which might not look so kosher with the hard-core bunny huggers.”

Agent Me: “Trust me, Ricky. No one watched An Idiot Abroad. No one thinks Karl Pilkington is charming or funny or insightful or interesting or anything. The only reason those series got made is because Sky still thought you were a thing at the time and wanted to suck up to you in case you ever ended up making anything as good as The Office. So I hardly think it’s likely that anyone is ever going to pick you up on your grotesque hypocrisy in a piece called something like “7 Animals Ricky Gervais doesn’t care you kill” in Metro.”

Ricky: “OK, I’ll give it a go. But are you sure I’ll be able to keep it up? I mean, remember, I used to be known for my mordant wit, my willingness to offend, my satire, my biting social commentary. Won’t my fans desert me in droves when I start tweeting photos of my Siamese cat with messages like “Have a peaceful night”?”

Agent Me: “Well look at what happened the last time you tweeted that. Over 1000 shares and a handful of cutesy messages from fans saying how much they love you.”

Ricky: “Wow. People are so dumb.”

Agent Me. “It’s the magical power of animals, Ricky. They make people dumb. Cats especially. They rule the internet.”

Ricky: “So you’re saying more tweets involving my Siamese cat would be a good idea?”

Agent Me: “Preferably one every day. Cat tweets are gold. Every cat tweet is the equivalent of one episode of The Office. And just ask yourself: which requires more effort.”

Ricky: “I got you. Just one thing though. I see how this is a good career move and I see how this will bring me more fans than ever before, but somewhere within me I still have the creative spark which got me to where I am in vacuous American celebritydom. And I’m just wondering, what can I do to counter all this nauseating animal rights cutesiness? What can I do to remember the vibrant, irreverent comedic force I once was?”

Agent Me: “You ever been big game hunting?”

Ricky: “Of course not. It’s evil and cruel and selfish and wrong.”

Agent Me: “As all the most fun things are!”

Ricky: “Nooo.”

Agent Me: “No wait. If you don’t take measures to counteract the schmaltzy ball of sanctimonious tweeness you have become your soul will shrivel like Lord Voldemort’s. Seriously. This may be your only hope of maintaining even a semblance of personality.”

Ricky: “OK what must I do?”

Agent Me: “Well there’s a lion at Hwange safari park in Zimbabwe. A really famous lion. Beloved by everyone. His name is Cecil. Now if you were to use some of your considerable fortune to bribe the park wardens – £35,000 should do it – to let you kill him with a bow and arrow, how cool would that be?”

Ricky: “It would be evil.”

Agent Me: “Yes but fun evil. And the great thing is only you would ever know what you’d done. Well, you and me, obviously. And the park wardens. But we could pay them to keep quiet. And put the word out that some filthy Spanish trophy hunter had done it. How does that sound?”

Ricky: “And I could put out one of my mawkish cutesey tweets saying how shocked I was, saying something crap and worthy like “This beautiful boy was killed for fun” – with a sanctimonious hashtag like “bantrophyhunting.”

Agent Me: “Now you’re getting the idea…”

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