Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais have done great things for British comedy. The Office and Extras achieved international acclaim turning the attention of the world to the good old BBC and spawning a host of imitators in the intervening years. It is appropriate then that the men who conceived these innovative shows set their sights on something new. The project they chose was Cemetery Junction.
Cemetery Junction is the pair’s take on a coming-of-age tale. With a comfy suburban setting in less than funky 1970s Reading, it takes an affectionate look back at the challenges of growing up and out of small town life. Though the film does hit some comedic notes the two have played it fairly straight here. Tackling anger, friendship, loss and betrayal they have attempted to tread fairly new emotional ground despite the pathos evident in their previous work.
Last week HeyUGuys were invited to join Messrs Merchant and Gervais at a Q&A to mark Cemetery Junction’s DVD and Blu-ray release. Speaking frankly, and often hilariously, about the movie, they bickered and bantered their way through twenty minutes of questioning. They made an indomitable double-act – as practiced, affectionate and wearied as any long-married couple. In the artificial intimacy of the setting though the dynamic seemed strained at times, not least when Ricky’s ADD’d little boy act went into overdrive. He is at once the strangest combination of trying too hard and not really trying at all – a fidgeting, pouting man who appeared to struggle to share even time with others. This proved frustrating when his interruptions limited the number of questions to a meagre handful but fortunately both gave a considered answer to our early question about their pivotal coming-of-age films. In fact we think you may be surprised by some of their early influences.
A word of warning now, at least to those unfamiliar with the ways of Gervais: the tape is very blue. There is strong frequent language throughout in addition to the wild tangent taking! If you think you can bear the C-word here and there then enter, at your own risk, the wonderful world of *Ricky Gervais…
(*With occasional Stephen Merchant interjections)