The Ricky Gervais Show, downloaded an average of 261,670 times per week since debuting in December, secured its place in The Guinness Book of World Records on Tuesday as the most successful podcast ever.
The show’s success can be ascribed almost entirely to the gnomic utterances of Karl Pilkington, the bald, round, bleary-eyed, sleepy-voiced producer for London’s Xfm, who serves as co-host — of sorts — with Gervais and his Extras and The Office co-creator Stephen Merchant. Pilkington is best described by the podcast’s Web site: a man “unencumbered by any meaningful degree of intellect.” Or, as a fan on iTunes puts it, “he’s either a comedic genius or slightly retarded.”
The show’s freeform format, consisting entirely of discursive conversations about subjects like hairy Chinese kids and pants-wearing cavemen, finds the dopey Mancunian’s matter-of-fact non sequiturs and perplexing world-view eliciting gasps of mock horror, gales of laughter, and good-natured bullying from his co-hosts. And in mere months, Pilkington has attained certifiable cult-superstar status. His words are parsed and studied, his spherical melon with its hangdog face emblazoned on T-shirts, mugs, and clocks. And cryptic quips like “I could eat a knob at night” (discussing a British game show where contestants are compelled to eat an animal penis, he demurred that his sensitive stomach would prevent him from munching phallus matutinally) have become Google gold, racking up hits galore and getting woven into dance remixes. In celebration of the Gervais show’s record-smashing success, herewith is a compendium of Karl Pilkington’s wit and wisdom.
* On why we should admire Winston Churchill: “Because if it weren’t for him we’d all be talking German, and I’m not that good at that.”
* On why Newton’s gravitational theories are overrated: “Why do I need to know that the Earth sucks us towards it? If I was floating around it’d be a problem, I’d ask his opinion.”
* On what he’d do if he could travel back in time: “I nearly died once, on an ice pop. Now, maybe if I would’ve died, I woulda said let’s go back to that, and I won’t have an ice pop.”
* On philosophy: “Whilst I was listening to the Kinks on my iPod, I wondered if everybody thinks in their accent. I know I do.”
* On life in the frozen North: “Some bacteria have better lives than Inuits.”
* On smart food: “In the future, they reckon we’ll be able to wake up and eat a yogurt you can have a chat with.”
* A conundrum: “Why do you never see an old bloke eating a Twix?”
* Another one: “Jellyfish ... do we need them?”
* Karl’s theory of evolution: “It was bacteria, it was fish, mermaid, man, onwards, and what have you.”
* On Adam and Eve: “What woulda happened if they didin’ get on? That’s interesting.”
On the Web:
Ricky Gervais: http://www.rickygervais.com/
The Ricky Gervais Show XML Feed: http://www.guardian.co.uk/podcasts/rickygervais/mp3.xml