BANFF, Alta. — Brit comic Ricky Gervais says he looked into getting Canadian citizenship many years ago, thinking it would be “useful in a war.”
The sharp-tongued funnyman was born in England to a French-Canadian soldier from London, Ont., and said Tuesday he considered becoming a Canuck about 10 years ago, joking it could come in handy.
“I thought that would be useful. In a war,” Gervais quipped, pausing for dramatic effect before his punchline. “You’re like a big Switzerland.”
Gervais revealed the aborted bid while walking a red carpet at the Banff World Television Festival, where he was presented with the Sir Peter Ustinov comedy award.
“I thought I could get one automatically because my father’s Canadian, but it doesn’t work like that,” he said.
“I wanted duel citizenship, I want the best of both worlds. I don’t want to swap it, I want two passports, like (fictional spy) Jason Bourne, he’s got loads. You never know, you see.”
Gervais says he may trace his Canadian roots one day, but was hesitant to do so after his podcast pal Karl Pilkington cautioned him against it.
“I’m always scared I’ll find something really awful. As Karl Pilkington said, ’You know, if you had someone really good in your family, like Einstein, they’d be telling you about it. So, what you find out is that your great-great-grandfather used to visit prostitutes and was probably a mass murderer. So, don’t look.’ ”
Earlier in the day, Gervais delivered a keynote address at the festival in which he discussed his upcoming TV series about the life of a dwarf with a “small-man complex.”
Gervais and his partner Stephen Merchant are re-teaming for a new sitcom on the BBC called “Life’s Too Short,” about a self-obsessed dwarf who “refuses to live his life disadvantaged.”
It stars Warwick Davis, known for roles as an ewok in “Return of the Jedi” and as Professor Flitwick in the “Harry Potter” film series.
Gervais says he and Merchant got to know Warwick on an episode of “Extras,” and says the actor regaled them with outrageous stories of life as a short person.
They included his technique to shop for groceries with a broom handle so he could knock out-of-reach products to the floor and being touched by strangers who believe he’s good luck.
Gervais discussed the news series during a keynote address at the Banff World Television Festival.
“It’s the funniest thing we’ve done,” said Gervais, who also confirmed that he will appear on the upcoming season of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
“It’s pure funny.”
He says that’s in contrast to his approach to “The Office,” which wove in some pathos, and “Extras,” which occasionally turned dramatic.
Davis’s character runs a company that gets other dwarfs jobs, called Dwarves for Hire.
Gervais also outlined his approach to “The Office,” and “Extras,” saying they were both inspired by his favourite comics, Laurel & Hardy.
He says Maggie on “Extras” was based on Stan Laurel and that whenever they gave her direction on set, it largely consisted of “More Stan!”
Gervais says the remarkable franchising of “The Office” is also continuing, with new versions in the works in Turkey and Israel. The hit show about an awkward office middle manager has also spawned interpretations in France and Germany, as well as the smash Steve Carell vehicle in the United States.