In three years, when Life's Too Short, the newest Ricky Gervais vehicle, gets remade in the United States, are all the young college kids going to hang around on their hovercrafts smoking rollies and talking about how the British one was better? I guess time will tell. In the meantime, however, the original is off to a promising start.
Life's Too Short is a fake documentary of sorts, written by Gervais. It centers around Warwick Davies, a little person who works in show business. (As an aside: where are we on this one? All the British sites say dwarf, which feels wrong, but the last vertically challenged human being I met told me to say "shawty," which, though tempting, still feels wrong.) The first episode, which premiered on the BBC last night, featured Liam Neeson, as Liam Neeson, dropping by to discuss his desire to do some stand-up. To practice, he coerces Ricky into an improv sketch. Liam's a hypochondriac and Ricky's a doctor:
"How's it going? What seems to be the problem."
"I've contracted AIDS."
"How did you get that?"
"From an African prostitute. I'm riddled with it. The prostitute's from an African country that's riddled with starvation, so selling her body was the only financial recourse she had left."
Did that make you laugh? Perhaps not. But that's why you should watch the clip. The whole show's a great mix of awkward pauses after jokes fall flat, unintended humor, and uncomfortable laughter (yours and theirs). And, refreshingly, the little-person-related humor seems to stem from things he says, and not, you know, the fact that if he were going to ride a motorcycle, it'd have to be a smaller-than-usual motorcycle.