An Idiot Abroad finally comes to the U.S.
Before Ricky Gervais was pissing people off at the Golden Globes or writing the original version of The Office with friend and writing partner Stephen Merchant, he was marveling at the brain of Karl Pilkington, a radio producer assigned to the duo for their program. In fact, anyone who has listened to the widely popular Ricky Gervais Show podcasts or watched The Ricky Gervais Show on HBO is familiar with the musings of this “little, round-headed, bald, missing link, chimp-like buffoon”, as Gervais has so sweetly labeled him.
In the new series An Idiot Abroad, airing here in the U.S. on Science Channel, Gervais and Merchant send Pilkington on a trip around the globe to see various wonders of the world. Pilkington, who barely adjusts to the social protocol of his own culture, tries to wrap his little round head around foreign food, art and customs.
In the premiere episode, Pilkington visits China, traveling along the Great Wall and learning Kung Fu. He’s apprehensive about it, believing everything in China to be weirder than what he’s used to. He also hesitates to call the Great Wall a “wonder” saying, “The Great Wall of China? Whoa, whoa, hang on, it’s the Alright Wall.” Still, he goes to see for himself.
Most travel programs would show us all the amazing, beautiful, culturally significant elements of the country, but Pilkington shows us the things real travelers would see. For example, there are no doors on the bathrooms and the toilets are basically holes in the ground, something that truly bothers him. Like the antithesis of Andrew Zimmern, he is isimultaneously amazed and horrified when he is presented with food ranging from balut (unhatched chicken or duck embryo) to freshly-killed toad. Still, he’s a good sport (most of the time) and tries to give everything a go.
In another scene, Pilkington learns Kung Fu and finds it harder than he expected. His instructor is a legit master who wakes him up at 4am to begin training. Pilkington, of course, remarks that “he’s not a Buddhist, he’s a lunatic!” When his instructor demonstrates his skills by throwing a needle through a pane of glass and into a balloon on the other side, Pilkington gives it a try, accidentally launching the needle into the cameraman’s arm.
Whether it’s getting a fire massage or explaining the pronunciation of his name, Pilkington’s misadventures in China are absolutely hilarious. He sums it all up by saying, “China, dreadful.”
The show, like Pilkington himself, is infinitely quotable and a true delight to watch. Gervais and Merchant decided to send him out into the world half for education and half as practical joke, but seeing him tossed into other cultures is a comedy jackpot. His insights are truly unique and the way he conceptualizes the world makes him effortlessly hilarious. Known the world over for having “a head like a fucking orange”, Pilkington might just be funnier than Gervais himself.
More clips below (courtesy of Science Channel)
Karl’s Reaction to No Doors on Toilets (Tonight’s Episode):
Karl Visits the Taj Mahal:
Photo/video credit Science Channel