NPR logo The Ricky Gervais Outtakes: Elmo Tickles Someone Else For Once

The Ricky Gervais Outtakes: Elmo Tickles Someone Else For Once

Every time I see Ricky Gervais appear on a talk show, awards ceremony or what-have-you these days, I always find myself thinking the same thing: "Yep, still funny."

I've watched too many once-hilarious people decay into bitterness, self-parody or irrelevance long before they ever get it into their heads to call it quits. Robin Williams is the gold standard, of course, having been reduced to manic schtick years ago, but you can also find a good example on the current season of Dancing With The Stars, where David Allen Grier spits out forced punchlines with an unbecoming desperation.

Gervais is right around the point in his career where things could easily start going south, which is why I get exceedingly nervous whenever he pops up. "This," I worry, "could be where he starts becoming Ben Stiller."

If that moment is coming, though, it's certainly not in Gervais's upcoming Sesame Street appearance, outtakes of which have been circulating this week and are in the video above.

In fact, those outtakes offer a clue as to the possible reason he's managed to avoid the fate to which so many of his comedic brothers and sisters have fallen victim: he still finds other people funny. Not himself, other people. Stephen Merchant, Jon Stewart, someone's hand covered in red carpet, whoever.

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It's the difference between disrupting the award you're presenting by wandering around aimlessly in a Joaquin Phoenix beard and cracking up because Elmo's giving as good as he's getting. Maybe as long as what makes Ricky Gervais giggle goes beyond simply "Ricky Gervais," he'll still be funny.

But I'll still worry.

After the jump, another example as Ricky Gervais visits Jon Stewart...