Ricky Gervais Opens Online “Office” - NBC Bay Area

Ricky Gervais Opens Online “Office”

The comedian’s revival of David Brent as a YouTube guitar teacher offers a perfect fit for a character who often made us uncomfortable in our own skin.



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    Ricky Gervais, co-creator of Britain's "The Office," a BBC comedy series in which he stars as David Brent, shows off some dance moves to his co-workers in this undated promotional photo.

    The original UK version of "The Office" ended in late 2003, a little over a year before YouTube first offered the masses a shot at instant fame – or an even more embarrassing way of being ignored by the rest of the world.

    YouTube was built for David Brent, Ricky Gervais' grating, would-be entertainer office manager who shamelessly played to the ever-present documentary cameras at his paper company, revealing himself as a pompous, delusional fool. Now attention-craving Brent is catching up with his online destiny as Gervais transports him from the TV mockumentary realm to a YouTube series in the character's most appropriate post-"Office" job yet.
    The web show – with the delightfully absurd title/concept “Learn Guitar With David Brent” – offers a perfect fit for a cringe-inducing character who often made us uncomfortable in our own skin. The second lesson is slated to debut Monday.
    The first installment, which helped kick off the recent YouTube Comedy Week, recalls the classic “Training Day” episode of “The Office,” in which Brent takes out his guitar and turns a corporate training session into an interminable, self-indulgent concert. Unlike “The Office,” Brent doesn’t have a captive audience this time around. But as with his days at Wernham Hogg, there’s no learning during any of his lessons.
    "I want to teach you to teach yourself – if that's teaching," Brent declares in his typically pedantic fashion.
    He also cracks awkward jokes and sings “Life on the Road,” a Neil Young-style folk rock number about his new gig as a traveling salesman hawking cleaning supplies. "The video is going to be amazing,” Brent promises.
    Gervais’ YouTube video is pretty amazing itself – and a welcome gift to fans, just four days after the final episode of the U.S. edition of “The Office.”
    Gervais, who revived Brent for cameos on the U.S. show in 2011 and, more recently, in a bit for the UK Comic Relief fundraiser, clearly isn’t done with his most famous creation. Not that we should expect a return of Gervais’ version of “The Office” (“It's like a little nugget,” he told GQ recently, referring to the Comic Relief video. “But...never say never”).
    Still, Gervais is following a trend of keeping favorite characters alive after the show is seemingly over. In 2009, Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” offered a great show-with-in-a-show “Seinfeld” reunion. We’re still basking in the bluish afterglow of the return of “Arrested Development” on Netflix, seven years after the comedy was canceled by Fox, spurring a long Internet-driven campaign for its revival.
    It’s hard to imagine anyone, least of all former Wernham Hogg employees, bothering to watch David Brent online or anywhere else. But Gervais’ first installment “Learn Guitar With David Brent” of has notched more than 900,000 views, so far.
    Check out the video below as we await Brent’s next tone-deaf bid for stardom:


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    Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.