Ricky Gervais: "Donald Trump is better than David Brent"
Ricky Gervais knows a thing or two about laughable characters.
The celebrated British comedian has made a career of character-driven humour, and his finest creations have tended to be conceited men with delusions of grandeur.
But even he admits that US presidential hopeful Donald Trump is more cringeworthy and embarrassing than David Brent ever was...and worryingly, there's nothing delusional about his ambitions.
Writing for the Hollywood Reporter, the writer and star of The Office, Extras, Life's Too Short, Derek and new Netflix feature Special Correspondents drew comparisons between Trump and perhaps his most iconic creation:
"I'll admit it, I like Donald Trump's speeches. I've made my fortune out of playing delusional, middle-aged men who say stupid things, and people love them. But he's beaten me. Trump is better than David Brent."
The Republican candidate for this year's US election is not only famed for his general arrogance and despotic form of leadership, but also an increasingly inflammatory campaign which has seen him offend may sections of the electorate, including women, Muslims, Latinos and anyone with remotely liberal values.
Gervais is, of course, no stranger to controversy, with his biting humour often perceived as going far beyond the pale by his detractors. But the irony of his crude jokes being condemned, whilst Trump's hateful rhetoric is rewarded by votes, is not lost on the 54-year-old funny man:
"It's funny, comedians tell a joke and they get in trouble; Donald Trump says a terrible thing and means it, and he gets elected."
That said, Gervais doesn't feel that the Donald's popularity should be dismissed in any way, or taken at all lightly. The comedian argues that the POTUS-in-waiting has cleverly tapped into wide-scale disillusionment over the censorship of political views and personal opinion:
"I get it, though, Trump hit a vein. He hit the peak of political correctness, and he's an antidote to all that. People are tired of being told they can't say things, so he's suddenly this poster boy for saying what's on your mind, however terrible it is."
Furthermore he feels that Trump's huge and growing popularity is something of an indictment of modern society, where idiocy is commonplace and stupidity is often celebrated.
Gervais is pragmatic if weary about what could be the most ridiculous appointment of a statesperson in modern times. As he is keen to stress, the very definition of true democracy is getting exactly what you deserve:
"It was only recently that I realised that Trump actually could become president. I should have realised sooner. Think about it: We live a world where there are warnings on bottles of bleach — we have to tell people not to drink bleach. In that world, Trump can be president.
"In a sense, you get what you deserve. That's democracy, baby! It's just a really odd thing to have this man who's meant to be the most powerful man in the world act like a Twitter troll."