This prickly GQ interview with Ricky Gervais is fascinating, because it touches on all kinds of awkward issues that are really important for comedians who become popular. It even begins awkwardly:
GQ: You've often said one reason the character of David Brent worked so well is because he has a blind spot about how people see him.
Ricky Gervais: Yeah. That's exactly what we're laughing at.
GQ: Do you ever worry that could be true about yourself?
Ricky Gervais: This will sound arrogant: I don't worry about it at all. I think I'm pretty self-aware. I think I know what I'm doing. You know when you've been a prat, you know when you're being a prat, you know when something sounds pretentious. But you're right—by definition you don't know. It's funny, Christopher Guest said to me—we were talking about comedians we used to like and if people go off the boil—and he was basically saying: "What if we become the people we don't rate anymore? What if we lose it and we don't know it?" And I went [grins], "Who cares?"
GQ: Surely you've already heard people saying that you've lost it?
Ricky Gervais: Yeah. But then I sell 30,000 tickets in an hour. So what have I lost?
The interviewer, Chris Heath, asks all sorts of great questions about what it means to portray a vain, narcissistic character for so long that people start to believe you're that vain, narcissistic character. And Gervais mostly blows off the questions, which is maybe a telling way of answering those questions.