I write a lot in this space about Karl’s version of reality and the insanity that results when he talks about it, and for good reason since he’s a third of the show but 90% of its entertainment. The fact is that if you just stuck Karl on the air for 30-minutes, the result would be silence. Karl really needs someone to prod him in the right direction, especially since he seems to have no awareness as to whether or not something he’s saying is entertaining—in case you haven’t noticed it, he never laughs under any circumstances.
“The Future” is an episode that really showcases how good Ricky and Stephen are at pushing him into interesting territory. Partially this is a result of it being an adaptation of one of their more focused, recent podcasts rather than one of their earlier ones which were largely free of real topics other than, say, monkey news. Here they’ve gathered to discuss the future and that’s what they’re going to do, whether Karl really wants to or doesn’t… and as usual he reluctantly goes along with it and shares with us his ideas. But it’s worth paying attention to how the pair keeps him on track and when they ask him to go further in his explanations. Karl’s insane thoughts will always be the focus, but they really shape the show and give it impressively good pacing.
“The Future” is one of the most un-edited episodes of the TV series, with only a quick jump in time at the end to keep the show down to 30-minutes (previous episodes have even been made from editing together several podcasts). Our intrepid trio is there to discuss the future and all its glory, beginning with Stephen’s somewhat scientifically based prediction that in 75 years androgyny will rule, to which Karl counters by saying that no, it’s ugly people who will take over. The evidence of this is that back in the ’80s people he knew were really ugly, and uhh… yeah. Also gone for some reason: pinky fingers.
Eventually this transitions into a focus on Karl’s idea that being able to access the internet in your head means that you will be taken over by Google, a zombie slave to the computer inside you. The animation is particularly helpful in illustrating his thoughts here, with more chips in his head and more weird ideas about what exactly Karl thinks a computer is. Oh, and he hates sat nav, because he really likes getting lost.
The best part of the episode, though (well, other than the very end), is when they try to get Karl to give five predictions for the future. Each idea is sillier than the last, and they’re animated in a wonderful fashion that makes Karl part of a book being read and has some well-done visual gags. Let’s go through them:
1. “Trousers are going to be stopped being made.” [sic.]
2. “We’re gonna get weaker.”
3. “I reckon we’ll blend all our food.”
4. “Glasses that let you live where you want to live.”
5. “More letters in the alphabet.”
Each one of these predictions is special in its own weird way. Trousers will leave because people sag their pants and Karl doesn’t like it. We’re going to become weaker isn’t actually a prediction because Karl says it’s already happened. Blending food will be a result of laziness, because it’s easier to blend things than to just eat them apparently. The glasses idea sounds unclear the way Karl phrases it, but it’s actually more or less The Matrix: the glasses, where you see what computers have overlayed on reality. Nothing can really compete with more letters being added to the alphabet, though, since its foundation is that we’re running out of letters to make words with. Its foundation is so wrong it’s hard to know where to start.
After a little jump, we go to the question of what you would do if it was the last day of the world. Stephen would smash a bar or kill someone because… well because sometimes Stephen’s really frightening. Nothing can top Karl’s answer, though, which had me laughing for the next minute straight: “I’ve always wanted to kick a duck up the arse.”
This may have been may favorite episode of the entire season. It was focused, covered new material and above all it was consistently funny. I’d like to see more of the “Ricky Gervais Guide to…” episodes adapted into the TV show, because their format works slightly better than many of the original podcasts. At least, this one went wonderfully, and I’d be happy to watch more like it.
•“I heard we’re all going to get ugly.” (pronounced o-guly)
•The detail of having the elephant man in the bar’s booth is great.
•“When he said we’ve got better looking I thought he was going to discuss cavemen, not his school photo.”
•“If you shaved a caveman, he’s basically us.” “He’s basically Karl.”
•Also great is that when given the internet in his head, Karl just goes to monkey news.
•“If I have a chip in my head, I’m never going to use my head… I’m going to use google.”
•Where google gets information: “one of them bright people.”
•Karl answers every question on a quiz show as “egg.” Even, apparently, when he knows that couldn’t possibly be the answer. Weird.
•Ricky’s cat still has a vendetta against Karl.
•“Would columbus have found america if he’d had a sat nav?”
•“I don’t feel lost, I just think, ‘another diversion’.” – That’s a particularly ironic statement considering how miserable he is while lost during An Idiot Abroad.
•This doesn’t have much do do with the actual show, but I’m enchanted by the fact that Britain’s name for a costume shop is a “fancy dress store.”
•“The future is a scary place, but… the future is going to happen. There’s no getting away from that.”
•“I think chewing is sort of a thing of the past. No one has time for that.”
•“There’s loads of words where you’re going, ‘What’s that letter doing in there?’”
•Karl talking to Ricky and Stephen out of the book is inspired direction
•“I’ve always wanted to kick a duck up the ass.” – best line of the series?