When Donald Trump announced that he would be running for president, Ricky Gervais found it instantly amusing. "I thought, 'This is a man who desperately wants to be famous and loved and he's willing to spend half his fortune on running for president to become even more famous,'" the English comic tells Rolling Stone with a laugh. "I thought he'd drop out and it'd be lovely, and we'll all be happy. Then it started getting real."
As the businessman and reality-TV star began winning caucuses and primaries — and eventually became the presumptive G.O.P. nominee — the comedian began wondering "when the joke was going to end."
"Now, because I don't live in America, I'm almost torn about his presidential run because I think it'd be amazing [if he won]," Gervais says. "It's like in Big Brother, when you want the villain to be punished but you don't want him to leave; we're seeing this lovely opera. As a viewer you want the villain to stay in — and I don't mean he's a villain, since there are worse than him. But it's the same with Trump.
"I can't imagine him being president, so I want to see it happen," he continues. "I want to say, 'In my lifetime, I was around when Donald Trump was President of the United States.' It'd be amazing to say, 'I was alive when they elected Donald Trump.' You can't spoof it."
The comedian, who popularized reality-TV spoofs with The Office in the early 2000s, likens elections to reality TV. "Democracy has thrown this up," he says. "It's not always voting for the right person; it's voting for the most popular person. Recently, it's like we haven't got the intellectual with the pipe anymore. We've got the guy who puts on the sharp suit and says what people want to hear. It's really odd. Charisma is quite a dangerous thing in politics.
"I don't necessarily want my leader to be the most charismatic," he continues, "I want him to be intelligent and fair. I don't know when that went away. I think when Obama was going to get in, people were saying, 'Oh, we don't want him in there. He's an intellectual.' Well, I want my president to be cleverer than me. And that's in opposition to Trump saying, 'I love the uneducated.' Well, of course you do. They're going to vote you in."
The comic also speculated that even if Trump were elected, he'd have to face off with Congress. "Obama was blocked on everything anyway, and he was potentially a great president," he says. "It all equalizes."
Gervais jokes that he doesn't know anything about politics. "I doubt you've ever interviewed someone less informed about politics than me," he says with a laugh. "I keep reminding myself I'm an entertainer when I go off on rants."
"Trump could get in and he could make the world a better place. We don't know."
With that, he shifts his perspective to take a broad look at the current election. "We don't know the right and wrong decision until 50 years time," he says. "Trump could get in and he could make the world a better place. We don't know. Since he's a businessman, he could be looking at World War III and say, 'This war is too expensive.'
"There's a realm of the unknown there that might as well be science fiction, because we don't know," he continues. "I would never say that he would be the worst president. But I think at the moment he'd be the funniest."