Come on now. Enough is enough
Let’s start by saying this: we’re massive Ricky Gervais fans here, and have an unyielding love for the fashion in which he changed the British comedy scene forever, firstly with ingenious creation The Office, and secondly by bringing Karl Pilkington into the limelight (seriously Rick, we owe you one).
But despite our eternal admiration for the comedy genius that Gervais has brought, we can’t help but feel apathetic about his new movie David Brent: Life on the Road, and it seems to us that most people harbour a similar feeling of disinterest.
When Gervais (possibly) jested that he would have to “kill him off soon” in an interview, we got to thinking: maybe this is the right time for David Brent to kick the bucket after all.
Everyone has stopped laughing
Once upon a time, the actions of David Brent on The Office were shocking, hard to believe and at some points, extremely cringe worthy, but it was also funny.
Our momentary disbelief at seeing a 40-something man mistakenly utter an offensive remark before desperately trying to worm his way out of trouble was reflected in the reactions of the other characters around him, making a show that was truly relatable, and because of this, hilarious.
Nowadays though, the David Brent material feels like one of the character’s misjudged jokes, because unlike the breakthrough series of The Office, we’ve seen it all before.
After ten years in the comedy spotlight, Brent’s astoundingly awkward actions just seem like routine sketches, and the punchlines of his gags fall flat.
It’s not that we hate David Brent, or even that we find him unfunny. It’s just that so much of the comedy surrounding him relied on us, as an audience, to be unaware as to his next move, and by this point we know him like the back of our hands.
He had a fitting end anyway
Despite a brief appearance on the U.S. version of the office-based sit-com, David Brent had been left well enough alone for a long time. The Christmas Special ended appropriately by letting Brent throw a scathing insult at Ralph Ineson’s bully boy character Finch, before giving a genuinely honest and heartfelt to-camera interview and removing his mic.
Has anyone, anywhere in the world, ever complained about this ending?
It was both a fitting opportunity for viewers to say goodbye to Bren,t and a final exhibition of Brent’s new self-confidence, which was basically everything the whole series had been building up to.
Bringing the character back just seems odd. The story ended appropriately, expertly tying up loose ends.
But hey, we all want another cringey David Brent music video, don’t we?
He’s without his supporting cast
Half of The Office’s comedic value came from the supporting characters: dangerously deluded Gareth Kennan (Mackenzie Crook) and down-to-earth joker Tim Canterbury (Martin Freeman) made for a delightful character pairing, and also provided a platform from which Brent could proudly shine from.
Tim acted as the audience’s eyes, a metaphorical and relatable port in the storm when Brent was doing something particularly ‘mental’. Tim’s astonishment at his bosses stupidity made Brent funny, where he could have easily been seen as crass or cruel.
Gareth, on the other hand, was a total clown. With his character reaching a sometimes obnoxious level of stupid, most of Brent’s borderline actions are masked by Crook’s unlimited potential for foolery.
The two made Brent, and by extension the entire show, funnier and more believable. Without them, it’s just a camera following Gervais around while he sings songs and accidentally insults people.
The Office is one of the greatest TV comedies in recent memory, but David Brent has had his day.
If Gervais is really desperate to rekindle old flames, we’d suggest bringing Andy Millman back for another series of Extras, because imagine how funny it would be if he got Kanye West to guest star. He probably wouldn’t even need a script…
David Brent: Life On The Road is out on August 19