Friday, 3 February 2006

Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington

by Charles Pooter

This is the 9th week in a row where I have embarrassed myself on the train home from work. The people to blame are Ricky, Steve and Karl who for the last two months have been releasing a weekly podcast on the Guardian Unlimited website. It was fine when I used to listen to their XFM show in the comfort of my own home, but their ridiculous banter is not suitable for consumption in a public place.

It always starts the same way. I put on my headphones and click the button on my iPod. At first I think I can control and bottle up the laughter, but as usual I am wrong. Steve reads an entry from Karl's Diary (with Ricky, as always, almost hyperventilating with laughter in the background). A quiet snort escapes from my nose and the woman in the seat next to me shuffles away slightly. A while later there is a reference to some long running Karl story, such as the time when Karl first encountered the (in his opinion) rather unusual looking Steve or the hairy Chinese kid or Karl's pet magpie that used to peck at the types of his Grifter or old men not eating twixes or the two kids at his school with the big heads and webbed hands (who weren't related to each other and who weren't friends, as it would be "too obvious") or gay people going out too late in the evening. Stephen is indignant or sceptical and Ricky is rolling on the floor screeching with laughter claiming that he is "going to explode". I struggle to control my body as my shoulders involuntarily shake. People on the train start to look at me.

I compose myself but it doesn't last ... Monkey News has begun. Ricky performs the traditional live jingle: "Oooo chimpanzee that, Monkey News!", which always elicits a snort of laughter from myself (it's the way he manages to make it more over the top each time). The story itself doesn't really matter and is essentially the same each week (firefighter is actually a chimp, builder turns out to be chimp, passenger discovers pilot is a chimp, etc.), what is funny is Ricky's increasing annoyance at the obvious bollocks being passed of as a true anecdote and Karl's obvious joy at winding Ricky up. This is a delightful reversal of their usual roles where Karl is the victim, as Ricky mocks his "bald round head" by squeezing it or bouncing a champagne cork off it. By this point I am openly guffawing and no one in the carriage can be in any doubt that I am an escaped lunatic.

Never mind smoking: Ricky, Steve and Karl should be banned in public places.