Loveable idiot Karl Pilkington rose to fame in the early 2000s as the comedic chew toy of former radio presenters Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. As the hosts of XFM’s The Ricky Gervais Show, Merchant and Gervais couldn’t believe their luck when they discovered the round-headed Mancunian producer the station conscripted to coordinate their Saturday afternoon show.
After realising Pilkington’s rare and hilarious take on the world and his childish fascination with God’s weird and wonderful creations, Gervais and Merchant invited him to join them as co-host on the show. Following the release of Gervais and Merchant’s concurrent, groundbreaking sitcom, The Office, the London-based radio show grew increasingly popular, and so too did its secret weapon.
After their time on XFM came to a close, the three continued to meet up occasionally for the popular podcast version of The Ricky Gervais Show, which was eventually adapted into an animated TV show by HBO in the US. This introduced the wonders of Pilkington’s mind to the global audience and before long, Pilkington found himself on the big screen, first in a cameo role on Extras and later as the “idiot” presenter of Gervais and Merchant’s comedy travel show An Idiot Abroad, which first aired in 2010 and continued for three series.
His reluctant touring of some of the world’s most beloved travel destinations was concluded in 2012 with An Idiot Abroad: The Short Way Round. For this third and final series, Pilkington was joined by actor Warwick Davis, who has a rare form of dwarfism and most notably portrayed the Ewok Wicket in Star Wars and Professor Filius Flitwick and Griphook in the Harry Potter film series.
Davis’ comfortability with his body and Pilkington’s child-like fascinations made for a particularly hilarious pairing as they travelled the famous Marco Polo route together. Gervais recalled that it was during this series of An Idiot Abroad that Pilkington came out with the funniest line he can remember.
Answering some of his fan’s questions on a live webcast in 2021, Gervais was asked: “What’s the funniest thing Karl ever said?”
After noting that “he’s said a few” in his time, Gervais picked out his favourite moment. “The one thing that still really tickles me – and there was a third party involved – was in An Idiot Abroad in the third season special,” Gervais said. “I think he was about to do some sort of abseil down a building or something with Warwick Davis. And they were sitting there talking, and then Karl just interrupted himself and looked at Warwick and said, genuinely… ‘Have you got knees?’”
Laughing, Gervais addresses the idiocy of the comment saying, “‘Yes… yes he has Karl, because he’s a human being’. ‘What do you mean has he got fucking knees?’ So that really tickled me and Warwick.”
Watch the clip from Ricky Gervais’ webcast below.