Ricky Gervais: What I've Learned

Wit and wisdom from the man who created The Office

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A manual is to be put in the bottom drawer never to be opened. If I can't work something out then I don't want it.

Don't view success as anything other than happiness. If you're happy then nothing else matters.

I grew up loving every creature. If I saw a toad in my garden, it was a privilege that I'd bumped into this amazing wild animal. We all have the same amount of rights to be on this planet and we're all just trying to survive.

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Indie-folk has always been my thing. Real songs. You can have all the amazing, weird technology but someone telling you a story to music will never be beaten.

People who hate "the c-word" would hear it less if they didn't go around acting like cunts.

I enjoy food because it tastes good. I don't enjoy food that's good for me. I don't enjoy lettuce. I don't enjoy pure protein. I enjoy pasta with half a pound of Parmesan on it and a bottle of red wine; if I didn't then I wouldn't have to work out like Rocky every day. Being healthy, to me, is dying as slowly as you can. That's all it is.

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Ricky Gervais is my real name. Why would I invent a name like that? I wouldn't come up with something weird and fey, first name of a puppy or a child, second name of a French fop. I'd call myself Hank Bangley.

I can't stand incompetence. You know when you buy a tent and there's one peg missing? I'll never get over that.

No one needs to work. You work because you want the things it gives you. I don't just mean the ability to buy mansions and boats; I mean self-worth and fun. There's nothing I'd rather be doing than writing and directing and stand-up. I mean, that's allowed me to buy mansions and boats but when I'm in the mansion or the boat I'm thinking of a funny joke.

I was born in Battle Hospital, Reading, 25 June 1961. Son of a labourer and a housewife. My dad worked on building sites until he was 75. He got up at half-five every day. I didn't have any money growing up but I didn't feel I was poor because I had everything I wanted.

Everything I've done is a little bit existential. It's all about people wondering if they've done the right thing.

I've never understood the psychology of wanting to see an animal suffer. When a vet puts down a cat that's in pain it's the kind thing to do. The vet doesn't then lie next to the cat and take a selfie. A vet has never said, "Can I see if I can do it with a bow and arrow?"

I taught myself tennis, secretly, in the gym at school. I just hit a ball against the wall.

The funniest bloke in the pub might think, "If I got on stage I'd be good." Well, you've got to try it first. It's the same when people say, "Swearing's easy. Anyone can get a laugh out of swearing." Go on then. Do it at Madison Square Garden. See what they think about that.

I cry at happy things more than sad things. I'll cry at The Waltons.

If I had my way I'd have three tracksuits, three pairs of pyjamas and lots of black T-shirts... I've just described my wardrobe. I wear things until they're worn out and then I wish I'd bought two of them. I gave up fashion at 28. I just want comfort.

The more you find out, the more you need to know.

Anything can irritate me. I've walked out of a restaurant before because there was a group of lads and one of them laughed and clapped his hands. Affecting other people's peace and quiet, that's what I can't stand. Lateness kills me, too. There's no reason to be late. "There was traffic!" There's always traffic…

I didn't appreciate how amazing my mum was at the time. She was a gardener, a cook, a cleaner, a dressmaker. Incredible. When you get your own house you think, "Where's all the cleaning stuff? What do you mean, I need a bin? Where do you buy a bin from?"

A comedian can tell 100 great one-liners and you laugh, but those jokes will always be as good as if you read them because they're a play on words. I want someone to shuffle out on stage and tell me what a fucking terrible day he's had. Now we've got life. Now we've got meaning. I can learn from that.

It doesn't worry me that one day I'm not going to exist any more. I cherish being alive. I'm like a dog. Every day is my best day.

What's the secret to a long and happy relationship? My favourite answer came from Larry Hagman. He said, "Separate bathrooms."

I wouldn't say the best film is The Godfather because that's subjective, but I would say it is my favourite film and no one can argue.

When I first went to college I was in digs. A bath on the meter cost about the same as the launderette. So, I had a bath with my six white shirts, put some Daz in and wriggled around. It was like an exfoliation session at a spa. I came out with red legs. The shirts were fine.

There's nothing funny about being successful. In my new stand-up I come out and go, "I don't need to do this. Do you know how rich I am? I could have this place burned down for a laugh." I'm confronting the elephant in the room. I go, "Journalists ask, 'How much is a pint of milk?' I want to say, 'I don't know, mate, but here's a grand. Run and get me one.'" You wouldn't think that would work but it does.

Just because you're offended by something doesn't mean you're right.

David Brent would be cooler if he was just himself, like we all would.

I don't get why people say things like, "Oh no! Don't tell me James Blunt's bringing out another album!" He's not going to come round your house, tie you down and make you listen to it.

David Brent: Life On The Road is released on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Download 12 December