Despite the criticism people may aim toward British comedian Ricky Gervais, they cannot doubt that he has enjoyed a stellar career that has seen him reach heights unusual for someone in his industry.
From starring in and writing the genuinely touching Netflix drama Afterlife to creating Andy Millman in Extras, the most tragic character to have graced our screens years before It’s Always Sunny‘s Rickety Cricket, Gervais’ life and career has been one hell of a journey.
He’s been a cult hero, public enemy number one, and national treasure in the space of 12 months, denoting the kind of oscillation that comes naturally to a man with such a bleak sense of humour and uncompromising understanding of what comedy is and should be. One of the most polarising comedians of our time, Gervais is frequently the hot topic, and the debate he stokes is certainly something he is more than content with.
Whilst there are many talking points from Gervais’ career, the highlight has to be his performance as David Brent, the deluded office manager in the UK version of The Office. Notably, Brent is the classic yes-man who is always looking to get ahead, and despite his many glaring flaws, he believes with all his being that his employees love him, when in actuality, the only one who does is the dim and vindictive Gareth, with the rest of his team actively resenting him.
One of the most memorable moments involving Brent and The Office is his love of music and, more specifically, his track ‘Freelove Freeway’. Brent eventually takes it – and other cuts – out on the road David Brent: Life on the Road with his band Foregone Conclusion, but that’s a topic for a different day. Famously, when introducing the song during the show, he compares himself to the Scottish rock outfit Texas by anecdotally claiming that other people have said he is much better than them, denoting the kind of delusion that had become customary.
In the run-up to the release of the 2016 film David Brent: Life on the Road, Gervais and Foregone Conclusion, which featured Andy Burrows of Razorlight and We Are Scientists, released the album Life on the Road. It was comprised of the Brent tracks that would feature in the film, such as ‘Freelove Freeway’, ‘Native American’, and ‘Please Don’t Make Fun of the Disabled’, and in a tweet, Gervais revealed that the music was actually inspired by both Simon and Garfunkel and the Mel Gibson epic Braveheart.
When discussing what inspired Brent’s new body of work, Gervais tweeted: “I sort of fused Braveheart with Simon & Garfunkel shit”.