Ricky Gervais is a British comedian who rose to fame through shows like The Office and his numerous stints hosting awards shows. Gervais attributes much of his comedic style to his family, as they shaped his worldview and encouraged him to pursue a career as an entertainer.
“I was surrounded by funny people growing up,” he told the Hollywood Reporter in 2014. “I mean, the worst thing you could be growing up in my family was boring.” Read on to learn more about Gervais’ family, and what each of them do for a living.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lawrence Gervais Was Allegedly Drunk When He Filled Out His Son’s Birth Certificate
Gervais’ father Lawrence Raymond “Jerry” Gervais was born 1919 in Ontario. The Telegraph reports that he emigrated to the UK while he was on foreign duty during World War II, and that he worked as a hod carrier and laborer.
Gervais talked about his family’s living conditions during an episode of The Actor’s Studio in 2009. “We were sort of a typical working class family, probably a bit poorer than the average actually, we lived in a rented accommodation,” he said. “My dad was a laborer and my mum was a housewife, she used to make me clothes, which isn’t always a good thing.”
Gervais relayed an anecdote about his father during the same episode. He said that his middle name is Denny, but is spelled “Dene” on his birth certificate because his father was intoxicated and unable to spell at the time. “I was christened Ricky,” he revealed. “Ricky Dene Gervais, and Dene is spelt ‘Dene’ and my mum says my dad was drunk when he filled it out, I don’t know if that’s true, the chances are he was.'”
GENi reports that Lawrence Gervais died in 2002. He was 83.
2. Gervais’ Mother Eva Inspired a Scene In His 2009 Film ‘The Invention of Lying’
Gervais’ mother Eva Sophia Gervais was born in 1925. The comedian described her as a giving woman who would always make sure that he and his siblings were clothed and fed. “God, she was amazing. I never told her,” he explained to The Scotsman. “She’d knit me something and I’d go, ‘Oh not that color.’ She f**king knitted that, man! Making food all the time. There are chefs who make 20 million.”
Gervais also credits his mother as the inspiration for a tender scene in his 2009 comedy The Invention of Lying. The scene involves the main character telling his mother that God exists, so that she may die without fear. It was something that Gervais, a lifelong atheist, planned to do when his mother was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1999. “My mum was dying for a year, and she knew it. I planned it,” he revealed. “I thought, if she says, ‘Is there a God?’, I would say, ‘Yes, definitely.’ She never asked.”
GENi reports that Eva Gervais died in 2000. She was 74. The comedian paid tribute to her during a 2011 Q&A session, where he wrote, “[My mum] selflessly did her best for me all my life. That’s what mums do though. They do it for no other reason than love. Not for reward. Not for recognition. They create you. From nothing. Miracle? They do those every day. No big deal.”
3. Gervais’ Siblings Marsha & Larry Worked In the UK School System
Gervais has a sister named Marsha (born 1948) and two older brothers named Larry (born 1945) and Bob (born 1950). According to The Telegraph, Marsha works in a school for children with learning disabilities and Larry is a retired teacher. Neither sibling has appeared in Gervais’ films or television shows, as they prefer to keep a low profile.
Despite their low profile, Gervais does occasionally reference his siblings. In 2018, he tweeted out an incident where Marsha was babysitting and let him watch a horror film. “My sister was babysitting me once when I was 9 & let me watch a Dracula movie,” he wrote. “I didn’t sleep for 2 weeks.”
Gervais (born 1961) talked about the large age gap between him and the rest of his siblings in 2011. “I’m closer to my youngest brother’s son in age than I am to him,” he said. “I was eight when his son was born. I remember saying to my mum, when I was about 11 or 12, ‘Why are the others so much older than me?’ And she went, ‘Because you were a mistake’. I think I just laughed.”
4. Gervais & His Brother Bob Pulled a Prank During Their Mother’s Funeral
Gervais told Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs that he and his brother Bob spent most of their mother’s funeral “crying with laughter.” He said the two of them were tasked with telling the vicar about their mother and what she was like. “My brother, just winding up the vicar, said, ‘She was a keen racist.’ And the vicar said, ‘I can’t say that!’ So Bob went, ‘Oh, OK then…she liked gardening.’
Gervais said that all of his siblings met up and stood next to one another during the funeral, but that Bob had another trick up his sleeve. He targeted an unknowing Larry, who had flown in from Scotland. “Bob had played a trick on him as well, because the vicar suddenly goes, ‘Eva leaves behind four loving children: Ricky, Bob, Marsha and Barry.’ And Larry just turns round and looks at us. We were crying with laughter and the vicar thinks we’re crazy.”
Gervais defended his brother’s actions, telling Radio 4 that he would not have laughed had the funeral been for someone else’s mother. “That’s the difference,” he added. “But I don’t think there are any taboos in humor.”
The Telegraph reports that Bob Gervais works as a professional decorator and painter.
5. Gervais Said Each of His Family Members Are Uniquely Funny
Gervais has spoken at length about his family’s extreme sense of humor. During an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, he revealed that he and his siblings would often send fake letters to their mother, or pretend to kidnap her when they were around other people.
“We went to Bingo, right. It was me, my mum, my brother, sister,” he recalled. “At the end all the people were coming out and we just grabbed her and started putting her into the boot of the car and she was screaming, right, and NO ONE helped! People just looked the other way.”
Gervais told the Hollywood Reporter that each member of his family was uniquely funny. He described his mother as very honest, and thus funny “without knowing it,” and his father as quiet and sarcastic: “He would roll his eyes and leave the room and everyone would laugh.” The comedian declared his brother Bob as the one who would light up a room with his antics, the one who was the “life and soul” of the party.
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