Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's new series Life's Too Short premieres in the US for the first time Sunday. The half-hour comedy promises to be a controversial series, considering Gervais and Merchant's tendency toward taboo humor.
Gervais anticipates some backlash for the series, but thinks it's irrelevant. "When people say it's sort of outrageous or sick or pushing the boundaries, I don't see that it is. I think some people confuse the target of a joke with the subject of a joke. You can have jokes about race without being racist, which we've always done," Gervais told The Kansas City Star. "I think sometimes people flinch too soon. And very often, the target is people's prejudices or the character's stupidity. So I think smart people know what we're trying to do. We're not trying to be just outrageous for outrageous' sake. That's too easy. It's childish and it's pretty pointless."
Life's Too Short stars dwarf actor Warwick Davis as a fictionalized version of himself, an out-of-work actor desperate for a return to fame. While physical humor is employed, the show also relies on guest stars like Liam Neeson, Johnny Depp, Sting, and Steve Carell. Gervais stresses, though, that the show isn't making fun of individuals, but poking fun at the concept of fame.
"It's almost like fame these days is much more aggressive. There's no shame. There's no shame in anything. As one thing we found doing this, you can't do something that's so ridiculous that isn't happening in Hollywood. It's literally impossible. It's literally impossible, so that was fun," Gervais shared.
But don't expect the show to be all uncomfortable laughs. Gervais promises that the show has an emotional center. "[Merchant and I] always try and put a warmth in it," he says. "There's always hope."
Life's Too Short premieres on HBO Sunday, February 19.