The Emmy, BAFTA and Golden Globe award winning co-creator of The Office and Extras is internationally renowned for his collaborative work with partner Ricky Gervais. But it’s not widely known he started his career as a stand-up comedian and radio presenter. In 2001, Merchant in fact shared a stand-up bill in a four-hander called Rubbernecker, with Gervais, Jimmy Carr and Robin Ince at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Bristol-born Merchant, along with Gervais and Karl Pilkington, features in the Guinness Book Of World Records for having the most downloaded internet show of all time, clocking up a staggering 280,000,000 downloads. Their conversations have subsequently been animated for HBO cartoon series The Ricky Gervais Show.
Their latest endeavour, An Idiot Abroad, is a live-action travelogue series starring Pilkington. The highest rated Sky One show since 2008, a second series has just been commissioned, while his film credits include Tooth Fairy with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and cameos in Hot Fuzz and Run Fat Boy Run alongside Simon Pegg. He directed his first feature film Cemetery Junction with Gervais, which was released in 2010 and he also appears in the forthcoming Hall Pass with Owen Wilson, due for UK release on March 11.
He said: “Most people don’t realise that I was a stand-up comedian before I met Ricky Gervais and his coat-tails. Life can be lonely as a TV writer so this tour is a great opportunity for me to get out there and meet my fans. And make at least one of them my wife.”
Tickets for the show, on October 4, go on sale this Friday (March 4). The Liverpool performance will be filmed for DVD release in time for Christmas. For more details, see the Empire’s website.