Ricky Gervais’s 10 Best Zings – Rolling Stone
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Ricky Gervais’s 10 Best Zings

No one in Hollywood – not Bruce Willis, not Angelina Jolie, not even Elmo – is safe from Gervais’s wit

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As the self-deprecating creator and star of The Office, Ricky Gervais mostly skewered himself and mundanity. As a thoughtful stand-up, his material investigates animals and atheism. Yet the toothy zings he's lobbed at stars during awards-show appearances in the last few years, and in particular while hosting the Golden Globes in January, have eclipsed an otherwise unantagonistic career.

Here, the best 10 of his recent barbs.

By Jane Borden

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2011 Golden Globes: Bruce Willis

"You know our next presenter from such films as Hudson Hawk, Look Who's Talking, Mercury Rising, Color of Night, Fifth Element, Hart's War. Please welcome Ashton Kutcher's dad, Bruce Willis!"

Gervais capitalizes on the Hollywood truism that an actor will always be known best for his love life.

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‘Conan’: Mel Gibson

"I was going to come out dressed as Adolf Hitler. … And then I was going to say, 'That's the last time I borrow a suit from Mel Gibson.'"

Gervais reveals to Conan O'Brien the one bit that the 2011 Golden Globe producers (understandably) forbade him from doing. 

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2011 Golden Globes: Scientologists

"Also not nominated, I Love You Phillip Morris. Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor, two heterosexual actors pretending to be gay. So the complete opposite of some famous Scientologists, then."

With this one well-crafted wisecrack, Gervais proves to the Hollywood Foreign Press that they should have known better than invite him to host again in 2011. And he proves to the general press that he's not afraid of inviting death threats.

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‘Sesame Street’: Elmo

"Why do you wear pajamas when you're going to bed, but you're naked the rest of the time? It's mad!"

With a face and hue recognized the world over, Elmo is definitely a celeb and, therefore, fair game, as captured on this behind-the-scenes clip from Ricky's visit to Sesame Street.

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2010 Golden Globes: Angelina Jolie

"Actors aren't just loved here in Hollywood. They're loved the world over. Because they're recognizable. You could be a little Asian child with no possessions and no money, but you see a picture of Angelina Jolie, and you think 'Mommy!'"

At the Golden Globes in 2010, Gervais demonstrates his understanding of the power and reach of celebrity. (This one might actually be true.)

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‘The View’: Paul McCartney

"The next category contains a couple of legends, one of which we've already seen, Sir Paul McCartney. … We actually came over on the same flight. I didn't get to speak to him because I was up at the front in first class and he was behind me in coach. Saving money. He spent an awful lot last year."

When Gervais stopped by The View, he relived, among other biting remarks, his quip about fellow countryman Paul McCartney's divorce. Fortunately, he reveals the Beatle's backstage reaction.

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‘American Idol’: Simon Cowell

"Enjoy your retirement. You shouldn't be working at your age anyway. Or you can always fall back on your old career: I'm sure there's still demand for a 58-year-old male lap dancer. You've still got it! What you haven't got is your own teeth anymore."

On the occasion of Simon Cowell's last American Idol appearance, Gervais appears via satellite to roast his friend. Judging from the lack of laughter, he may have underestimated his audience's degree of sincerity.

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‘Late Night With David Letterman’: Himself

"Immediately after that video was shot, I saw a Pizza Hut. And I've never looked back."

During an interview on Late Night with David Letterman, Dave played a music video featuring a young and svelte Gervais fronting the pop band Seona Dancing. Ricky pointed his bow and arrow at his favorite bullseye: himself.

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2011 Golden Globes: Hugh Hefner and Crystal Harris

"There's been some great new TV drama this year, like Boardwalk Empire and The Walking Dead. Talking of the walking dead, congratulations to Hugh Hefner, who's getting married at the age of 84 to 24-year-old beauty Crystal Harris. When she was asked why she was marrying him, she said, 'Because he lied about his age. He told me he was 94: oh, come on!' Don't worry, hold out; just don't look at it when you touch it."

Ricky took a moment, at the 2011 Globes, to put himself in a Playmate's stilettos. Robert DeNiro, at least, was appreciative.

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2009 Emmy Awards: Steve Carrell and Rainn Wilson

"The thing about the Oscars and the Golden Globes is that they've got film stars there, with their jaw lines and chiseled looks, making me feel bad. But in this room, I'm probably above-average. Steve Carrell is considered handsome – think of that! It's amazing. Rainn Wilson! No, we've got to be honest, he's weird even in this company."

Ricky's had a lot of practice mocking his own looks. But at the Emmys in 2009, he took on his American Office successors' too.