Never underestimate Ricky Gervais in an awards competition. The subversive comic has pulled off jaw-droppers in years past at the Golden Globes (he won Best Comedy Series and Actor in 2003 for his original, British version of “The Office”) and Emmys (Best Comedy Actor for “Extras”). Now he competes for “Derek” on Netflix – the most subversive media in America – in the Emmy comedy races for a program that’s a serious departure for Gervais.
In “Derek,” Gervais portrays a sweet, simple-minded caretaker at a nursing home devoted to helping the old and feeble live their last days on earth with dignity and ease.
“It’s a bit of an odd sitcom because it’s more dramatic than the average sitcom,” he says in our webcam chat. “It’s about a group of quirky characters. They’re outsiders. It’s about the forgotten. It’s a show about kindness. It’s another one of my naturalistic comedies with realism and pathos. The main difference is sincerity.
“In the past I was one of the ringleaders in creating comedy of embarrassment, excruciating social faux pas, of all of our bad bits we’re laughing at. There’s been a huge veil of irony over everything I’ve done. I’ve sort of left that behind. Not because I’ve changed my mind about anything. But you don’t want to do the same thing again.”