Karl Pilkington & me: musings on positivity & moaning

Warwick Davis, English-born actor. Taken at th...
Warwick Davis at the Norwich Sci-Fi Film, Toy, and Collectors’ Fair in 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been watching ‘An Idiot Abroad 3’.

I hadn’t seen any of the series before & I’d heard it was very funny. Clips I’d seen definitely were: a bit like a real life ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm‘ on a world tour.

What particularly attracted me though was the pairing of Karl Pilkington with Warwick Davis, a man to whom he probably couldn’t be more different.

Aside from their obvious physical differences Davis seems cultured, intelligent & an archetypal eternal optimist: someone who always tries to be positive, who tries to see the good in every situation he encounters & in everyone he meets.

English: Karl Pilkington in 2007
Karl Pilkington in 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Professional moaner Pilkington seems to have little interest in culture & his tastes seem to nearly always veer towards the tacky. He appears to have a genius for finding fault with nearly everything &, while obviously thoughtful, I think is unlikely to contribute much to our society’s canon of philosophical wisdom. He’s very like, as series co-creator Ricky Gervais has said, the stereotypical ‘Brit abroad’ taken to an almost caricaturish extreme.

English: Jonathan Ross at Live 8
Ricky Gervais

I thought it would be very funny &, while it’s had its moments, I’ve been disappointed. I’ve just found Pilkington’s near constant negativity depressing. Rather than being funny I’ve mostly found him to be insufferably rude  – to his hosts, to the people he meets, about the cultures he encounters, about the countries he visits & not least to Davis himself. On the ‘phone to Gervais complaining about Davis’ apparent popularity, he said “People like little oddities, don’t they?!”, with Davis rightly protesting, saying “I’m standing right here!”. I found his repeated dismissal of Davis’ impressive acting career as ‘poncing about in a bear suit’ bordering on the abusive.

He sits in a little boat with Davis on the Ganges, bobbing on the waves in the quiet of the early morning to witness the beautiful sunrise: an idyllic scene, something some people would describe as “a once-in-a-lifetime experience”.  His only response seems to have been “Is it fully up yet? Can we go now?”. Davis just couldn’t hide his disappointment & disgust.

Yes, he is set up so he’s put in situations that will test him & bring out the moaning: it’s an entertainment show, not a documentary. And I sometimes find myself agreeing with him: I think I’d be a bit put out if bits of ash from burning corpses settled on my knee while I was enjoying a sunrise on the Ganges! And neither is Davis the perennially cheery soul I was expecting: he does his fair share of whingeing as well.

Overall though I have just found it all a bit depressing. The worst thing is the gradual wearing down of a (mostly) happy, positive man by a miserable, ungrateful ignoramus: like dirty water slowly eroding a beautiful statue into ruin. Every minute Davis’ big smile has seemed less prevalent; you can almost see the strain taking its toll on his face as he looks increasingly worn & weary. It’s as if he’s being gradually dragged down into a mire of negativity that he despises & which he can do nothing about.

I still have the last of the 3 episodes – as well as the commentary episode – to watch so maybe things will change!

Why am I writing this?

I’ve had to ask myself the same question! It seems to have struck a nerve.

I like to think of myself as a positive person, believe it or not: although you may find that hard to believe sometimes, especially if you follow me on twitter! I have frequently found myself feeling like Davis, being dragged down by the negativity around me. There are times when circumstances can make being positive very difficult, & the last week or 2 for me has been 1 of those times.

There’s a time to be cheerful & a time to complain: finding a balance is difficult, but it’s probably the best way to be.

One thing I am certain of though is that if there’s one thing that’s a positive anchor for my life  – although they too certainly have their moments – it’s my adorable little twins, Jake & Ellie 🙂



3 thoughts on “Karl Pilkington & me: musings on positivity & moaning”

  1. I have to agree with you on this. I am a big Karl Pilkington fan from the podcast he did with Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant and have listen to all of their radio shows too. But the idiot abroad series really don’t play on what we all love about KP. What makes him funny is his mad ideas and lack of understanding about life, science, animals and so on. A bit of moaning is funny but not at this level and watching him be outright insulting and prejudice is sad and depressing rather than “painfully funny” which is what I *think they are going for. It also gets worse as the series goes on, with just more and more of the same.

    Good review though, you pretty much hit the nail on the head for me. I’ll be sticking to the post casts and their other Gervais/Pilkington work rather than watching more of idiot abroad.

    1. Thanks for such a great comment! I think I’ve seen those podcasts: are they the ones with the little animations? They’re great. I’ll look for more & better KP stuff then, thanks

      1. Oh definitely do! The podcasts were animated on TV which are very funny, I’m watching one now! But it’s the original podcasts from iTunes or audible (I think, not entirely sure, it’s husbands domain to download things and sync my ipod) which I’d really recommend. I must know them all by heart now and still laugh at them every time. The idiot abroad series are a real shame.

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