Pandemic highs and lows
If someone told me as a young man, “Hey, in the year 2021, not only are you still alive but you’re famous and wealthy,” I would have said, “Wow, that’s fantastic. I’m surprised.” I never dreamt I’d live that long, and certainly not as an international comedian. But then they would say, “OK, but the bad news is, all your gigs are canceled because there’s a pandemic on,” and I’d go, “Oh, crap.”
Life as improv
There was no path. I didn’t want to be an astronaut. I didn’t want to be a heavyweight boxer. I only knew the worst thing to be was a bore. Growing up working class in England, people would accept a fun murderer over an honest bore. So, you could either fight or make people laugh. To be funny was a social power. As the youngest of four, a laugh was a way to be heard. I could laugh my way out of any situation.
Wealth is how you define it
We never had any money. My dad was an immigrant laborer from Canada. But I didn’t know I was poor because my mother knitted all my jumpers, she made our Christmas presents, did all the decorating, grew things in the garden that she then cooked. She never stopped. I always thought, Men work hard, but women work miracles.
Comedy never gets old
I was a late starter and that was my savior. I feel sorry for kids who get famous at 18. That’s a ticking time bomb. I wrote the British version of The Office at 39. It came out when I was 40. Jane [Fallon, Gervais’ partner of nearly four decades] and I had been together almost 20 years. I had friends. I had life experiences. I knew who I was. I won some awards and remember sitting around in a tuxedo, drinking a glass of wine. I said to Jane, “Why didn’t I do this earlier?” She said, “Because you wouldn’t have been any good.”