Ricky Gervais: “There shouldn’t be a word for atheism"
Spending time in the US has only made Ricky Gervais a more outspoken atheist. He tells Robin Ince why that’s important.
How do you want me to start this? Do you want me to start with “I’m surprised Ricky Gervais is more like David Brent than I imagined?” or “Ricky Gervais, his teeth freshly capped for Hollywood, smiles with his gleaming new incisors”?
My favourite one was the journalist who got the day wrong, and I said: “We’ll have to do it over the phone now.” I did the interview. It starts off: “Ricky Gervais sat back. He put his feet up.” So she made it all up.
“Sitting in filthy underpants and an old T-shirt, Ricky insists on doing the dance from The Office over and over again.” Will that do?
You seem to have been more vocally atheist this year.
I say that’s not true. My atheism might be higher-profile than other people’s atheism, but it’s not high on my agenda. But it’s the thing they always pick out. I can do 30 tweets of my cat, a bath pic, a Karl [Pilkington] quote, plugging. The one tweet that’s . . . I mean, I don’t even know what an atheist tweet is. Sometimes they’re scientific tweets that oppose some of the “facts” in the Bible. And I get: “Why do you keep going on about atheism?” One of [the questions] is “Why are you obsessed with God if you don’t believe in him?”, and I want to say: “I’m not obsessed with God, I’m obsessed with people who want to do things in his name.”
Another one is: “Why are you obsessed with only the Christian God?” How many times have I stated that I don’t believe in any God? There are possibly 3,000 so-called deities. If we’re talking about monotheistic gods, I believe in one less god than you. When they say, “Why don’t you believe in God?”, I often say, “Which one?”
Ricky Gervais is this year’s winner in the celebrity category of the GoldenTwits awards
The rest of this interview appears in the current issue of the New Statesman, guest edited by Brian Cox and Robin Ince. You can buy a copy in shops until Thursday 3 January, or purchase a print or digital version here.