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Day Eight: AMS->SEA

Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Dave!For a long flight, my first concern is always comfort. With my 6'2" height, it can be a pretty big deal to be cooped up for 10-1/2 hours in a steel tube being hurled across the Atlantic Ocean when my legs are cramped up. But my frequent flier status allowed me a nice upgrade with plenty of legroom, so this wasn't an issue.

My second concern is time. 10-1/2 hours has to be spent doing something and, since I can't sleep on planes, it ain't going to be sleeping. Usually I just watch whatever movies they have available, but they were all films I'd already seen or wasn't interested in. Fortunately, I had purchased some iTunes programs to occupy my head during the trip.

And here's where I go bananas over television shows.

The Dutch Bitch and I were watching The Daily Show when Ricky Gervais was a guest. I'm a big fan of his, so I was really looking forward to his interview. Turns out he was there to pimp two shows... The Ricky Gervais Show and An Idiot Abroad. Much to my surprise, The Ricky Gervais Show ended up being animated. They took funny podcasts that Ricky made with his friends Steven Merchant and Karl Pilkington, and made them even funnier by turning them into cartoons...

Ricky Gervais Show Intro Card

Now, here's where things get interesting. The show does not really revolve around Ricky Gervais. It is totally centered around Karl Pilkington. And this frame from the intro tells you absolutely everything you need to know from the show...

Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant listening to Karl Pilkington

Ricky and Steven get Karl to start talking about something, then wait to hear what hilarious things comes out of his mouth. And while Ricky and Steven waste no opportunity to tell Karl how stupid he is for how he thinks about stuff, I can honestly say that Karl Pilkington may be one of the most intriguing thinkers on the planet. His every word transcends logic to reach a level of genius that is absolutely mind-boggling...

Animated Karl Pilkington

I can't tell you how many times I had people staring at me because I kept busting out laughing at the show. It has to be one of the funniest things I've ever seen, and is easily one of the most entertaining shows ever made for television (well, not television, HBO).

I bought both seasons iTunes had available. The first season is gold. The second is even funnier. They are a steal in Standard Definition for $20 each (Hi-Def is a waste, as the cartoons are low-res). If you'd rather spend $0 to get a taste of the show, you can subscribe to The Ricky Gervais Show Podcast. New episodes from the third season start airing on HBO come this Friday.

But The Ricky Gervais Show was just the beginning.

Turns out that Ricky and Steven also created a travel show for Karl Pilkington where they send him around the world to see stuff so that he can "broaden his mind." The first season is all about having Karl visit the Seven Wonders of the World...

Karl in front of the Great Pyramids

And here's where I get confused, because Karl Pilkington is exactly the kind of traveler I usually hate. He complains about everything and isn't happy with anything that isn't the same as it is back home. Ricky and Steven take full advantage of this by getting him into situations they know will freak him out. That's where the funny bits happen, though sometimes I just end up feeling sorry for the guy. Because even with the camera crew following him around and taking care of him, there are times he is clearly out of his depth. The culture shock is overwhelming to him, and forcing him into more and more crazy situations seems almost cruel. Like force-feeding him something he just can't fathom eating...

Karl is Forced to Eat Something Awful in China

While he was in India, Karl got to experience something I long to see... the day of Holi. It's a remarkable Hindu festival of sheer joy and celebration that I have been dreaming of for decades. Brightly colored powders fill the air, and people of all ages, social status, and wealth join together in a giant two-day party. If I had a bucket list, Holi would easily be in my top five.

Karl, of course, didn't like it at all...

Karl Covered in Color on Holi

Instead of focusing on what a unique and amazing experience he's lucky enough to get to join in on, he focuses on his £70 trainers (sneakers) getting ruined. This immediately pisses me off, because people like this should just stay home. Stop traveling, because all you do is make it hard for the rest of us who love it.

All the complaining, disparaging comments, and idiocy would ordinarily turn me off in a big way. It's the reason I fucking hate the show The Amazing Race. But I find An Idiot Abroad to be absolutely fascinating. Karl Pilkington may be a crotchety Englishman who sums up his entire time in India by saying "I hated it"... but he's also decent, kind, and caring at heart. He so obviously doesn't mean to be offensive or irritating that it's hard to stay mad at him. There are several moments throughout the series where you catch glimpses of Karl trying his best to give it a go and embrace the culture, and it's what has me loving the show so much. In the afore-mentioned Holi celebration, people are pelting him with colors while he protests. But then you see a little girl who can't reach him, so he bends down and lets her dump color on his head...

Karl on Holi

I am guessing that there are a lot of moments like this but, since they aren't "funny," they get edited out of the show. Yet somehow they manage to keep just enough of Karl being a decent bloke to keep An Idiot Abroad from being a total disaster.

And then there's the sights...

Karl at the Taj Mahal

On the flight home, I devoured all of Season One plus half of Season Two, and the time (literally) just flew by.

I give both An Idiot Abroad and The Ricky Gervais Show my highest possible recommendation...

Dave Approved: Karl Pilkington!

And so ends my week of vacation and the wonderful thing that was Bitchsterdam 3.

Comments

  1. Mitchell says:

    Karl is my hero, I was so happy when season two of An Idiot Abroad came out! Glad to hear you made it back safely!

  2. karla says:

    I adore Karl Pilkington. I have been a fan of An Idiot Abroad since i first saw it a year or more ago, and i genuinely think he is one of the most interesting people on earth. His thought processes and the way he does things…the man is some strange sort of genius. If this is an act, it’s fucking amazing. If it’s not an act, it’s fucking amazing.

    He’s a good guy, he generally allows himself to be made an ass of in a genial manner, and he is nice to people he meets, mostly. I’ve never laughed so hard at a show.

    I very much look forward to finding The Ricky Gervais show, then.

  3. martymankins says:

    I keep meaning to watch this show, and keep forgetting to go check it out. Now with your rave review and my already like for Ricky, I am adding it to my must watch task list.

  4. Sybil Law says:

    Must watch! I love Ricky Gervais. I even loved him when he hosted – the Oscars? – a while back – when everyone else thought he was too “mean”. Pfft. Pansies.

  5. Troy says:

    I enjoy An Idiot Abroad and much like you feel pity for Karl when Stephen and Ricky send him into very uncomfortable situations.

    The magic happens when Karl actually enjoys something he is forced to do and it actually opens his eyes. There are more moments like this is the second season.

  6. Avitable says:

    I’ll have to check those out. I’ve been looking for a new show to watch now that I’m caught up on Archer.

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