- Ricky Gervais recycled a 15-year-old joke in his new Netflix show “After Life.”
- Some fans on Twitter said “it’s a shame” and “a bit lazy” to repeat old lines.
- Gervais also reuses a proverb which co-host Stephen Merchant told on their radio show in 2009.
Gervais revisited the subject of death in his new Netflix show “After Life,” after exploring the topic in his 2008 movie “Ghost Town.” The comedian also recycled lines from old stand-up routines and radio shows, and some viewers weren’t pleased.
In the first episode of “After Life,” Gervais repurposed a joke from his 2004 live tour, “Politics.” Back then, he shared an anecdote about a friend from university, Pete, buying a newspaper from a “little old lady” with a front page showing an elderly mugging victim nursing cuts and bruises.
“And the old lady, just making conversation – she probably said it to everyone who came in that day – she went to Pete: ‘It’s awful, isn’t it?’ And he went, ‘Yeah. Yeah, she’s 93. Scarred for life.’ But you leave it, don’t you? Pete went, ‘Well, that’s not scarred for life then, is it?’ She went, ‘What?’ ‘You scar a baby for life, don’t you? If she lives till she’s 100, she’s only been scarred for seven per cent of her life.’ He did the maths for her! Like this old woman’s meant to go, ‘Yeah, you’re right. F*** her!'”
In “After Life”, Gervais’ character Tony has the same encounter and gives a similar response. “Terrible, isn’t it? Scarred for life,” the old lady says. Tony replies, “Hardly scarred for life. She’s 93. If she lives to 100, she’s only been scarred for seven per cent of her life.”
Similarly, in episode five of “After Life”, a widow recounts an old Greek proverb to Tony. “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
In the first episode of the second season of ‘The Ricky Gervais Guide to…’ radio show, Gervais’ co-host Stephen Merchant told the same proverb.
Several “After Life” viewers noticed the recycled lines and expressed disappointment on Twitter.
I never said he’d ‘stolen’ material. There’s loads recycled from the podcasts eg. ‘Scarred for life’ gag and
‘Tree/shade’ proverb. I’ve been a fan of Ricky’s, ever since 11 O’Clock show and it’s a shame when you see old gags resurface in the new stuff.
— [YOUR NAME HERE] (@Chrislegal1) March 9, 2019
I liked #Afterlife. I just wish the jokes wernt recycled from XFM and podcast days. Even the tree quote is from a podcast. Great cast though, which is needed when Ricky Gervais literally plays himself for the entire series.
— Ben (@bk_yourway) March 10, 2019
— Phil Havercroft (@Phil_Havercroft) March 8, 2019
However, other Twitter users enjoyed the callback to Gervais’ previous work.
Watching #AfterLife and E5 "society grows great when old men plant trees who's shade of which they know they will never sit in."
I honestly feel like this is a lovely call back to the @rickygervais show with Steve and Karl. I like to think it is and I don't care if it isn't
— Jacob Langford (@jacoblangford98) March 9, 2019
— Stu McCallum (@StuMccallum) March 9, 2019
“After Life” has a critic score of 67% on Rotten Tomatoes and the audience reaction on Twitter appears to be largely positive. Gervais seems happy with the response too.
“The reaction to #AfterLife has been f****** insane,” he tweeted. “Best fans in the world. I wish I was a dog so I could lick your faces.”
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