Ricky Gervais Presents: The World of Karl Pilkington Review
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According to Karl Pilkington, New York firemen press monkeys into emergency service to rescue people trapped in tall buildings, jellyfish are bad animals, and, if necessary, he could eat kangaroo genitals…but only at night.

Such is the wit and wisdom expressed by the former Xfm radio producer of The Ricky Gervais Show. The podcast of the same name finds Pilkington as the ceaseless source of amusement for The Office and Extras creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. The British comedians are agog to hear what bizarre theories and malapropisms will emerge from his mouth.

The World of Karl Pilkington transcribes some of their most hilarious conversations about philosophy, Karl’s daily life, and the latest in monkey news. Since this material originated as audio file downloads, however, it doesn’t always lend itself to the page.

The “I could eat a knob at night” segment, in which Gervais, Merchant, and Pilkington talk about a reality TV challenge involving the consumption of dried kangaroo penis, isn’t as hysterical in the book. In this case, the offhanded delivery of “I could eat a knob at night” and his explanation—“Give us a few hours. Let me get some rice and that in me belly and just sort of fill myself up a little bit more. I’ll pop back at about half six this evening—have it ready.”—demand to be heard instead of read. The World of Karl Pilkington also lacks the subsequent requested house music remixes with the quote.

The deadpan humor in Pilkington’s voice also gets lost in translation. That doesn’t make what he says any less absurd or funny; it’s just different. As a podcast listener, I found myself hearing what I was reading in their voices anyway.

One of the best bits features Karl talking about the nicknames of his father’s friends, like Tattoo Stan, who “because he did his tattoos himself, the ones on his left arm were really good because he was right handed. But on his right arm—rubbish.” The chat then transitions to his experiences using CB radio as a kid. Karl’s a guy who prefers simplicity and plain-spoken sayings over idioms, and it’s uproarious to hear him run down the codes that needlessly complicate what he was trying to communicate.

The World of Karl Pilkington is essentially The Ricky Gervais Show podcast’s greatest hits in printed form. Podcast listeners won’t find a lot of new material here, though Pilkington contributes some drawings to illustrate his musings. And excerpts from his diary contain a few anecdotes that didn’t make the cut for the podcast.

The book has one distinct advantage over the podcast, though. You don’t hear Gervais’ ear-splitting cackle ripping through your MP3 player’s earbuds. For those who enjoy Gervais’ TV work, The World of Karl Pilkington is a good introduction to the podcast and his amusing friend. If you’ve heard these comedy routines before, they’re still enjoyable to revisit. Anyone who gets hooked after reading this book can download the podcasts—my suggestion—or import best-of CDs from the UK.

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