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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Interview with Ricky Gervais; Interview with Steve Carell and David Steinberg.
Aired March 4, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, my primetime exclusive with the most dangerous man in comedy, Ricky Gervais -- and the one thing that matters more to him than anything.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICKY GERVAIS, COMEDIAN: There's nothing I cherish more than my friends. But for that, I'm allowed to squeeze their head, annoy them 24/7, say awful things to them, torch them, send them around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Then, one of the funniest men in showbiz, Steve Carell on the price of fame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE CARELL, ACTOR: It's much, much better to be rich than famous. There's no --
MORGAN: I love that honesty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: And why he compares the GOP field to "The Three Stooges".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARELL: Actually, I was just thinking of your analogy. I was thinking Ron Paul is sort of a Shemp.
STEINBERG: He's a Shemp, there's no question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Legendary funny man Steve Carell and David Steinberg.
This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
MORGAN: Last time, Ricky Gervais was here, he had just mortally offended pretty much every big star in Hollywood at the Golden Globes last year. By a wonderful coincidence, he's back again, just after offending just about every major star in Hollywood at the Golden Globes.
Welcome back, Ricky, and congratulations on behalf of everybody in Britain.
GERVAIS: They took it better this time, though.
MORGAN: They did take it better.
GERVAIS: Well, I think they've had a year to get used to it. The first time they went, why is he saying all of these awful things? Then the second time went, oh, we get it, they're jokes.
MORGAN: But is that disappointing? Do you want them to take it better?
GERVAIS: No, I didn't want them to take it badly in the first place. Also, I don't think I said anything that bad the first time. And, you know, they are jokes. I'd rather entertain then people gasp. I cherish the gasps, they're just as good.
MORGAN: Not everybody seemed to enjoy your jokes as much as others. I mean, Sir Elton didn't seem massively enthusiastic.
GERVAIS: Yes, he had a grumpy look on his face. But I don't know -- at least he can still, you know, use expressions. Most of them are too Botox'd up. They can't -- you don't know if they're smiling or not.
So, but, yes -- no, I made a decision both years, you know, to -- you don't pander to the people in the room. There's 200 million people watching at home. So, you know, you want everyone to enjoy it. But, you know, it's not a spectator sport, an awards show. And I try to make it one.
But, yes, it was my favorite one. It was my favorite one. I really, really enjoyed it. I thought they were a lot lighter and cooler about the whole process.
MORGAN: I tweeted on the night -- I was trying to picture how joyous you would have felt the moment you first heard that Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson were making a movie called "The Beaver."
GERVAIS: Too easy, isn't it?
MORGAN: I mean --
GERVAIS: That's the comedy gods.
MORGAN: That's what they call a home run, you know?
GERVAIS: Yes, yes.
MORGAN: Knocking it out of the park.
GERVAIS: Too easy.
MORGAN: See, what do I think? I think you are singlehandedly changing the way all Americans feel about awards ceremonies. When I first used to come out here, they were the most sickening, back- slapping events imaginable. Four, five hours of people telling each other how wonderful they are.
You have pricked that balloon so spectacularly, I don't think any of them can go back to that anymore. And that's why you're this national treasure.
GERVAIS: Well, I think that it's fine if they want a mutual back-slapping session, but don't televise it, because there's nothing in it for people at home.
You know, I've got nothing against those people. I work with a lot of them. I admire a lot of them.
And also it was gentle ribbing, this wasn't me going out there trying to undermine the moral fabric of America. They were gags.
And also, it shows how badly the so-called offended stars took it. Johnny Depp is in a new, you know, series.
MORGAN: Yes, yes.
GERVAIS: They were cool about it. I think the same with everything, OK? It's always people offended on someone else's behalf. You talk to the person, they go, I was fine about it. You know?
MORGAN: Do you have a moral code yourself?
GERVAIS: Of course I do. Of course I do.
MORGAN: How would you define it?
GERVAIS: Well, you can't because it's not from a set menu, you know? Unlike religion, I don't have a set menu. You take instance --
MORGAN: How do you test yourself? What's your litmus test?
GERVAIS: Well, you can't. I have to sleep at night. That's the only way I can do it.
And this is the thing about offense, OK? It's not right or wrong. It's about feelings. And feelings are personal.
So I'll give you an example. I did a stand-up tour here, and I make jokes, ironically, I might say, I often play a character -- I come down on the wrong side about Third World famine, cancer, the Holocaust, AIDS -- these subjects.
And this is the problem with dealings taboo, some people, when they hear any taboo subject, they mistake the target of a joke with the subjects of a joke. And they don't have to be the same. You can make a joke about race without being racist.
And the reason I don't like actual racist jokes is not because they're offensive, it's because they're not funny because they're based on a falsehood. OK? So there has to be truth and honesty in comedy.
And people think, oh, he's talking about a subject, it's terrible. And I did this gig with all of those subjects and I got a letter from someone saying, I enjoyed the gig, I enjoyed it -- we were laughing all the way through, except we didn't appreciate the jokes about the Holocaust.
So they knew the jokes about famine were a joke. They knew jokes about cancer -- so that ism was too much to them. And that's the problem with personal feelings. You can't --
MORGAN: But are there some things which --
GERVAIS: --be objective.
MORGAN: Yes, but do you -- I mean, some people would say that things like the Holocaust should never be a subject for any type of humor --
MORGAN: They should be off-limits.
GERVAIS: It depends what the joke is, you know? There's nothing you shouldn't joke about, but it depends what the joke is. It's as simple as that. You can tell a right-on joke about the Holocaust like you can tell a right-on joke about anything.
It depends -- it comes from a good or a bad place. And you have to know what you're doing. And I like walking that tightrope. And I like the gasp coming first and then people realizing that it's OK.
No bad -- no bad at all can come from disgusting taboo subjects. It's where it comes from and how it's discussed. And, you know, I think that I've always done it.
And things like in "The Office," it was clear because it was a character, when David Brent went over and, you know, it's the only black guy, David went, I love Sidney Poitier. People knew that he was uncomfortable with difference as opposed to being racist.
When Gareth was talking about the disabled woman in the wheelchair, saying, there should be tests, right? You should have to stick pins to make sure they're really disabled if they're claiming stuff? They know that we're laughing at his attitudes.
But when it's under your own name, they get confused. They think, does he mean that? Clever people know. They know there's irony. They know that -- where the satire is.
And you can't legislate against stupidity. The more you dumb it down, the more you wink, you lose the satire.
MORGAN: I get it.
GERVAIS: So I don't apologize for people not getting it. If anyone gets it, it's gettable. And there's always -- as I said, there's always going to be someone that's offended by what you say.
Many people are offended because you exist, particularly -- you. Now I --
GERVAIS: Again, I've read the forums. But what are we meant to do?
MORGAN: For a very long time, you would never have imagined being in Hollywood. And now you are a bona fide superstar who comes to Hollywood, does movies and so on and so on.
What is the reality of Hollywood excess?
GERVAIS: Well, I don't know about that. You know, I'm in my pajamas by 6:00, after I've worked out and --
MORGAN: I'm going to come to this.
GERVAIS: I like a glass of wine.
But I don't really mix in those circles. The people I know in Hollywood are usually sort of writers and directors and show runners and producers. You know, I'm not -- I came to this business when I was nearly 40. You know, I'm 50 now, and I'm not --
MORGAN: Is that -- is that the trick? Is it to not be famous too early?
GERVAIS: Well, I think so. And that wasn't intentional, neither way I didn't hold back, saying, hold it, I'm going to be famous when I'm 38, hold on. And I was never trying to be famous. And I feared it. I feared it.
MORGAN: Is it a lot easier, is my point, to be older and become famous?
GERVAIS: Well, I think so. I think yes, because I think it was Oprah who said if you don't know who you are by the time you become famous, it will define you. And I think, you know, these things -- these things don't -- I mean, I'm in it for the work. I love the work.
You know, I -- everyone knows that we get paid very well. You know, nice reviews are good. Awards are great.
But it's the work. It's the I can't believe my luck that I get up in the morning, have an idea, and I can start writing that idea and it will get made at the moment, you know?
MORGAN: What I can't believe is the way you look, because we all fell in love back in Britain with fat, chubby Ricky. The guy --
GERVAIS: I wasn't that fat.
MORGAN: You were pretty fat.
MORGAN: And you drink a lot of beer.
GERVAIS: You didn't tell me then, though, did you?
MORGAN: No, I didn't.
GERVAIS: People come up to me and say, you look fantastic. You just mean I looked terrible before, but you wouldn't -- you should've said then, I'd have worked out faster.
GERVAIS: I had to find out for myself. I keep throwing these trousers away, another pair of shrunk jeans, right? And then I --
MORGAN: You were the standard-bearer for the beer-swilling, fish n' chip-eating bigger guy.
GERVAIS: Well, I still do that. But I --
MORGAN: But look at you, you --
GERVAIS: But I discovered working out.
MORGAN: How much weight have you lost?
GERVAIS: Not much at all. I think about 25 pounds. But --
MORGAN: But that's quite a lot.
GERVAIS: -- I've done it by working out. I -- I still eat too much. I still drink too much. But the next day, I punish myself in the gym. I work out like Rocky.
And then I feel great. You know, it makes you feel better, genuinely, you know, that's --
MORGAN: Even you teeth look gleaming.
GERVAIS: I haven't had them done.
MORGAN: Anything to them? Hollywood smiley?
GERVAIS: I got some free -- those things in a luxury lounge once, those -- I thought those made me gag. But I brush them.
MORGAN: What made you -
GERVAIS: I've always been clean.
MORGAN: Hold on.
GERVAIS: Suddenly, I'm fat and disgusting who didn't clean my teeth. You're re-writing history here. I had a few pounds, yes. And the beard helps. That gives an illusion of -- I wear black, I still do that.
MORGAN: What made you go on this vanity kick?
GERVAIS: It wasn't a vanity kick. It was a health kick. I'll tell you, the truth was it was Christmas. I was 48, a couple of Christmases ago. And I had 11 sausages.
And I sat there feeling ill. The number of times I've said, "Jane, I'm having a heart attack"
GERVAIS: I'm having a heart attack. And I thought, you know what? Life is good. And I don't want to blow it. I don't want to go, "Hold on. Just -- what?"
MORGAN: And, by the way, it wasn't just me, because the -- this dashing feature in "Men's Health" magazine, the feature we never thought we'd see of you, as this immaculate kickboxing Gervais --
MORGAN: -- it says, "How Ricky Gervais totally lost it," which is an encouraging headline, until I read on. "He went from barely employed chubby loser to bad-ass comedic auteur. His next act: losing the gut and gaining respect."
GERVAIS: Yes. That's good, isn't it?
GERVAIS: I -- I'm glad I lived this long to get to "comedic auteur," because otherwise, it would just be --
MORGAN: Where would you be without that?
GERVAIS: -- "The death of a fight-useless chubby loser with -- who never cleans his teeth and stinks. Ricky Gervais died today at the age of 48 through sausages. Death by sausage."
That's a prison term. What? Cut that.
MORGAN: Do get more -
MORGAN: Do you get more groupies now?
GERVAIS: I don't -- never got groupies.
GERVAIS: No. Well, I've been with my girlfriend for 30 years.
MORGAN: That doesn't stop groupies.
GERVAIS: The ones I say, "I'm having a heart attack," OK?
MORGAN: Does she prefer you as a -- as a -- what was it? A svelte comedic auteur or as a chubby loser?
GERVAIS: I think --
MORGAN: She's been with both.
GERVAIS: I think she loves me for both. Don't forget, when she met me, I wasn't a chubby loser. I was about ten stone. And also, I used to do judo, karate, boxing -- you know, every day, I was so fit. And then I hit 30 and got a job.
GERVAIS: And went to the bar afterwards. And that's what does it.
And it's so easy, it's so gradual. I just got heavier and heavier, I'd say, through my 30s and 40s, until you go, "When did that happen?" Because I used to -- you say, "Well, that'll never happen to me" when you're --
MORGAN: It's perfectly true.
GERVAIS: I know, yes. And it does, it's so easy. But it's easy to lose it, as well.
I found it remarkably -- I haven't given anything up, which I'd prefer to do. I couldn't diet. I couldn't do that. I can't give up my cheese and wine. But I can, luckily, because I'm self-employed and I've got my own gym -- I've got no excuse.
GERVAIS: I've got no excuse. I hear you've got trainers as well. Your producer just told me.
MORGAN: Yes, yes.
MORGAN: He doesn't like me advertising it, because he doesn't think that I'm --
MORGAN: -- I'm good for his brand.
MORGAN: Let's take another break, then come back and talk about Twitter, because you love Twitter as much as I do.
MORGAN: And I like your work.
GERVAIS: Thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The funniest show in the history of television.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was funny --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love this show.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't call it the funniest show in the history of television.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would. I would laugh. This show was hilarious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No doubt about it, funny show.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, hilarious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: History of television?
GERVAIS: "Seinfeld," lovely show.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, thank you. It was good. There was good, yes --
GERVAIS: I love -- oh, no, I love broad comedy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will treasure this, Ricky.
GERVAIS: I love the laugh track on it, it's to --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So happy he's here.
GERVAIS: -- remind you when to laugh.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So excited.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes.
GERVAIS: We didn't do one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Ricky Gervais on the HBO hit, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" -- a classic, classic, comedy.
GERVAIS: Highlight of my career. That's a --
MORGAN: Had to be.
GERVAIS: Honestly. I've had a few. I've been very lucky with the things I've been asked to do, from "The Simpsons" and -- but that was an absolute joy.
And it made me realize why people come and do "Extras" and "Life's Too Short" with me, because when you play a twisted version of yourself, you suddenly find out that the worse you make yourself, people go, "Well, he can't be that bad."
GERVAIS: So you really go for it, really to make it obvious. Yes.
MORGAN: Let's talk about Twitter, because you came late to the game, even later than me.
GERVAIS: At everything.
MORGAN: And you've become equally obsessive. You love Twitter, don't you?
MORGAN: Why do you like it so much?
GERVAIS: I like it for lots of reasons. I like it because it's the whole of humanity in your pocket. You know, it's the best and worst of the world on Twitter. There are some brilliant people out there, and there are some people that shouldn't be allowed sharp objects.
GERVAIS: OK? And I treasure them both.
MORGAN: Well, you -- you talking of sharp objects -- you tweeted this picture of yourself to say "On my way to Piers Morgan at CNN, I think I'll fit in well." What were you getting at?
GERVAIS: Well, you know, as a comedian --
MORGAN: And you'd better think quickly, here --
GERVAIS: Well, no, no --
MORGAN: -- what were you getting at? What do you mean --
GERVAIS: I -- I --
MORGAN: -- you'd fit in well looking like that?
GERVAIS: Well, I thought I looked intellectual there --
GERVAIS: -- and CNN is obviously the home of intellectuals. And so, I was hoping that I'd have a go. But yes --
MORGAN: You get very intense on Twitter. I mean, you get into proper battles with people.
GERVAIS: Yes. Yes, I do.
MORGAN: Why do you take it so --
GERVAIS: But -- but -- it looks like that, but at home, I'm smiling.
MORGAN: Are you? Always?
GERVAIS: Of course. Well, when someone's arguing with me that the Earth is 5,000 years old --
GERVAIS: -- yes, I'm smiling. Yes. Of course I'm smiling. The fundamentalist view of the -- the creation of the Earth is rather like an episode of "The Flintstones." So I have to laugh at those sorts of things.
MORGAN: How does your -- how does your atheism, which you're passionate about -- how does that play with your American audience, given that so many people in America are God-fearing people, and probably take exception to it?
GERVAIS: Well, but they shouldn't. We talked about this last time. Why should they take offense that I don't believe in their God or any other God? And I'd say to them, "You know, tell me the reasons why you don't believe in all the other gods, and that's the reason I don't believe in yours."
And I've got nothing against people believing in God at all, you know? In fact, if it did make you a kinder person, if you only did good things in his name, then great. But there's the rub. It's when I see some of these religious fundamentalists saying that they've told their 5-year-old children that if they turn out gay, they will burn in hell.
That to me is child abuse. That's nothing to do with religion or spirituality. That's child abuse.
So that's why I'm passionate when it comes to that.
MORGAN: What do you think of the Republican nomination race, given that some of the candidates clearly position themselves quite deliberately to say anti-gay marriage, all that kind of thing, based on their religious beliefs.
GERVAIS: Well, with this, we're back to offense, aren't we? Just because they're offended by someone being gay, it doesn't mean they're right. You know, it's a strange thing that -- that gay -- being gay is a choice. No, being gay isn't a choice, you know?
I want to go, "Look, you try it, then. If it's a choice, have a go."
GERVAIS: "See how much you like it."
MORGAN: As someone who's come to America and been the personification of the kind of classic old American Dream of -- you know, they take anybody from anywhere --
MORGAN: -- and anyone can make it big here.
MORGAN: They don't really care what else you've done anywhere else, it's like --
GERVAIS: I came fat with terrible teeth --
MORGAN: You were the chubby loser --
MORGAN: And now look at you.
GERVAIS: Bring us your huddled masses.
GERVAIS: Yes. Yes. "Look at him, he's huddled."
GERVAIS: But no, no. It -- America's fantastic. It is the land of opportunity. And there's bits of both cultures that I love and hate. And -- and the wonderful thing about being between England and America, they are both land of freedom.
And criticize them all you want, but know that you're in a place that allows you to criticize it. And that's -- and that's lucky, you know? And that's great. And that should be cherished.
And freedom of speech for me is one of the most important things that -- discovered. And I would fight for the right of it.
And even though I don't believe in God and I don't believe -- unlike most religions, I treat all religions the same. I think they're all wrong, not morally wrong, but I don't think there is or could be a God.
But if someone said "We're banning religion," I'd march to not have it banned, because it's your right to believe what you want. And it's your right to be wrong. And I'll fight for that right.
MORGAN: Let's take another break, and come back, and I want to play you what Steve Carell said about you just because it might unsettle you for the next couple of minutes.
GERVAIS: Can I have it cut? Can I have it censored if I don't like it? I'm that powerful.
MORGAN: I just want to unsettle you.
GERVAIS: I own that man.
MORGAN: He has strong views.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TARAN KILLAM AS PIERS MORGAN, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: What do you mean? I'm Piers Morgan, and do be fooled by my British accent, because it's all I've got.
KILLAM: Tonight, we examine the controversy surrounding this year's Super Bowl halftime show. Joining me first is the woman at the center of that controversy, Sri Lankan hip hop artist, MIA.
NASIM PEDRAD AS MIA, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Blam! Blam!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That was my eagerly-awaited debut on "Saturday Night Live" last week. I mean, Ricky, I don't know about you, but I just thought that accent was shocking.
GERVAIS: I'm glad he said he was doing.
MORGAN: As they said. Everyone said to me, "Well done, mate. Badge of honor that you've been humiliated on America's -- "
GERVAIS: Well, exactly.
MORGAN: " -- number one comedy."
GERVAIS: No, I know. It is -- it's very flattering, and I think you're probably fine. Because we're British, we might see the differences. But to America, that probably does sound pretty spot on.
MORGAN: He had me going, "Wit, wit, wit, wit, wit, wit, wit, wit, wit."
GERVAIS: They just do that, now.
MORGAN: I don't do that.
MORGAN: Do I do that?
GERVAIS: I don't think so. I think -- at least -- at least they took the Mickey out of things that aren't that bad.
MORGAN: Should we play you what Steve Carell said about you?
GERVAIS: Yes, please.
MORGAN: Because I rather enjoy the fact that you're slight uncomfortable, because you have no idea what he said.
GERVAIS: He's a lovely man. I can't believe he'd say anything bad about me.
MORGAN: Interesting. He didn't feel the same way.
Let's play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Could you do what Ricky does?
CARELL: Oh, not in a million years, no.
CARELL: I think I would just get too skittish. I -- I'm --
STEINBERG: But you could play a Ricky Gervais character?
CARELL: Perhaps, but to actually go in front of people and --
MORGAN: And offend them to their faces.
CARELL: I don't think I -- I necessarily -- it doesn't mean that I'm a better person, it just means that I certainly don't have that kind of guts.
He -- it's funny. He always makes fun of me, Always. And he -- he's also -- in a personal way very sweet to me. Like, before one of these awards shows, he pulled me aside and said, "Hey, I've got a few things that I wanted to go after you with, is that OK?" And I'm like, "Of course."
And so, he's -- there is a side -- there is a gentler side to him that people don't necessarily see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: So you're --
MORGAN: -- you're all heart, aren't you?
GERVAIS: That's right. No, that's lovely. He's such a lovely man, though.
MORGAN: But he thinks you're sweet because -- just to clarify -- you go up to him before an awards ceremony and say, I'm going to call you a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in a minute, just to warn you.
GERVAIS: I told him what I was going to say. You know, if I have access to them, I'd warn everyone. You know, as I said, I don't want you to have a bad day. You know, it's not --
GERVAIS: -- it's not -- I've got nothing against people, you know?
MORGAN: Do you like Steve Carell?
GERVAIS: He's great. He's fantastic. He's not only brilliant, but he's one of the loveliest people in Hollywood -- untouched by it, family man, nice, honest, hardest working guy. I mean, I don't know how he does it.
Yes, I've got nothing but good to say about him.
MORGAN: He's got -- as I said to him, he's got one of -- it's a great interview and we're going to run it very soon. But he's got one of those heads that's just funny.
GERVAIS: He's good, because you know why?
He's got -- he's nearly handsome.
GERVAIS: He's got that -- he's -- he's got --
GERVAIS: -- he's -- he's like Bob Hope. If you look at him, he's chiseled, he's great. But he's got something -- he's got beady eyes. He's good. I like him. I like --
And that was a compliment, by the way.
GERVAIS: He's very handsome. I mean, he's comedically handsome. He's not imposing. He's not -- he's not bland. He's -- why are we going on about how good-looking Steve Carell is?
GERVAIS: What -- what am I, chopped liver?
MORGAN: Let's talk about love.
GERVAIS: Go on.
MORGAN: How many times have you been properly in love in your life?
GERVAIS: What, with -- romantic love?
MORGAN: I'm assuming women.
GERVAIS: Yes. I meant as opposed to family and kittens
MORGAN: Yes. Yes. Proper romantic love.
GERVAIS: Yes, well, I'd say this one.
GERVAIS: Once. Yes. Yes.
MORGAN: And you've been with the same woman 30 years.
MORGAN: She's a lovely, smart, attractive --
GERVAIS: Here we go.
MORGAN: -- long-suffering woman.
GERVAIS: Yes. Yes.
MORGAN: Why haven't you married her yet?
GERVAIS: Well, we are, really. We are.
MORGAN: And yet you're not.
GERVAIS: Well, I mean we've -- we've -- you know, we share everything.
MORGAN: Do you think you ever will?
GERVAIS: Oh, I'd never say never. There's no reason we're not getting married other than there's no point at the moment. There might be one day, but it's not -- it's not a -- I'm not digging my heels in going, we can never get married for any reason. We just -- there's -- there's no point.
You know, we don't want our families to meet. That's the thing.
MORGAN: How do you show your romantic side?
ERVAIS: I don't know.
Should it be -- is there a definition? I think I -- I am a romantic. I think -- I think I'm very romantic.
I mean, the fact that we have been together for 30 years. We -- we're soul mates. No one knows as much about me. No one loves me as much. And that's mutual.
I -- I don't think you get more romantic than that.
And I -- I think -- I think buying someone a card once a year is irrelevant. It doesn't do it for me. That's not romance. That's -- that's a tick on a calendar.
It does -- it's nothing.
You know, we've -- we like each other's company. And we don't like anyone better.
MORGAN: You've had this amazing career path, amazing, in many ways.
If I was to have the power to relive for you one moment -- this is not personal. It would be professional, really -- a moment in your life, what would it be?
GERVAIS: There's loads of things whizzing through my head, but they're all from childhood.
MORGAN: Like what?
GERVAIS: I just remembered one. My brothers and sisters are a lot older than me by -- the next one is 11 years old, then 13, then 15. And I remember I was 12. I was eating my Corn Flakes.
And I said to my mom, I said, mom, why are all my brothers and sisters so much older than me?
She went, because you were a mistake.
GERVAIS: I just laughed. I went cheers. I love honesty growing up. There's little things like that that I sometimes just --
MORGAN: Those little magical moments.
GERVAIS: This is great, isn't it? It's so sweet. It's so sweet.
I remember when I went to do -- I went to -- I was -- I was good academically at school. I did sciences. And I went to college to do -- to do biology. And after a couple of weeks, I changed to philosophy.
And I came back that Christmas and my mom had got me a book on biology. So sweet. And I went, oh, I'm not doing biology anymore. I'm doing philosophy.
She went, what good is that?
I said, well, it doesn't matter, because I'm going to be a pop star, right?
She went, pop star is another word for junkie, right?
And I told her what the advance was and she went, Mick Jagger bought his mum a house in Wales.
MORGAN: Ricky, it's been a pleasure, as always.
You fly the flag brilliantly for my little country.
GERVAIS: Thank you.
MORGAN: And it's a great joy to watch you in action over here.
GERVAIS: Thank you. Cheers, man.
MORGAN: Thanks, man. Ricky Gervais.
There is only one Ricky Gervais.
GERVAIS: Thank God.
MORGAN: Thank God.
GERVAIS: And I'm an atheist.
MORGAN: Hollywood doesn't exactly celebrate the people behind the scenes very often with a possible exception of my guest tonight. "New York Times" called David Steinberg a comic institution who directed some of your favorite actors in "Friends," "Seinfeld", "Mad about You", "Newhart," "Weeds", and "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
Now I've got your attention, haven't I?
And he's brought a friend with him who's apparently in comedy in some vague way.
Steve, isn't it?
MORGAN: Steve. Yes. Great to see.
Anyway, but, David, let's focus primarily on you here because --
MORGAN: -- I think we all agreed, you are a comic institution as the "New York Times" said so.
MORGAN: Tell me about being a comic institution.
STEINBERG: Well, I should be an institution. I don't know if I am a comic institution but --
MORGAN: You appeared how many times on Johnny Carson?
STEINBERG: About 140 times.
MORGAN: That has to be a record, isn't it?
STEINBERG: Yes, Bob Hope was the most, and I was the second most. You know, he could call me at the last minute. People used to drop out of "The Tonight Show." And I always found it amazing that someone had something more important to do than the "Tonight Show."
MORGAN: And the great thing was, you never did.
STEINBERG: No, I --
MORGAN: So you were always available.
STEINBERG: I was there -- I was there all the time. And the other go-to person was Bob Newhart, because he could come in the last minute and talk to Johnny and it would be fine.
So one day I said to Bob, I said, you know, I'm so flattered that we got to do this so much. And he said, you know, I talked to Johnny about it and Johnny said he loved it because we bombed all the time.
STEINBERG: And he enjoyed it when we --
MORGAN: You were making him look good. Of course -- that's why I invited you both today, obviously.
CARELL: I'm done.
MORGAN: Now, look, let's get serious. You guys have collaborated on this new documentary series for Showtime about comedians.
Why did you do it? You're exec producer and you both appear in it. What was the idea?
CARELL: Well, Charlie Hartsock and Vance DeGeneres, who are my partners at Carousel, had this idea to kind of trace the -- trace comedy in terms of generations and -- and how it cross-pollinates and sort of look to people's inspirations.
And -- but it was -- it was too big an idea for a movie. So we very rapidly realized that this has to be a series.
STEINBERG: We actually shot it -- we shot a lot of it as a movie.
MORGAN: And you've got incredible names. I mean, it's like a roll call --
MORGAN: -- of superstar comedians, isn't it?
MORGAN: So is this like a definitive history of comedy? How are you -- how are you billing it?
STEINBERG: Well, I -- I don't know if it's a definitive history of comedy, but it is --
MORGAN: On what makes people laugh?
STEINBERG: It's unique in the way in which the comedians talk about what they do. It's just a -- something about it is just totally unique. There is no audience. There is no pressure. They're not on, but they're funny.
MORGAN: Let's take a little -- a little watch.
Let's have a look at a clip here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILLY CRYSTAL, COMEDIAN: I have 28 on tape different stories --
STEINBERG: That happened between you and him?
CRYSTAL: That never happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remember my mom, she literally, she would try to make me feel good about my size but always do stick. She would say, he's a large boy, it's all heart, but when he came out of me --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Weather-wise, such a cuckoo day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I mean, it's a brilliant lineup. And, you know, immediately I am laughing. So, it's obviously going to be a huge success for this thing.
But what is the definition of comedy? Is there one? Is there a stat -- when you all get together?
CARELL: It's so subjective. You know, what's funny to one person is not at all to someone else. I sort of refrain from saying that something is funny or not funny because -- just because I don't find it funny doesn't mean a multitude of people don't find it --
MORGAN: Are you -- are you a funny person by nature?
CARELL: As it evidenced by this interview? No.
CARELL: Clearly not.
No, I don't -- I don't light up a room. I'm not the type of person who can hold court. And I was never a stand-up. So, I'm not -- I'm not proficient at that at all.
But I enjoy comedy. I enjoy laughing. And --
MORGAN: Here's -- I want -- I want to play you something to embarrass you now.
CARELL: Oh, good.
MORGAN: Because I interviewed Lisa Kudrow and I -- I put a question to her. And I think that -- I hope this will embarrass you.
Let's watch this. This is -- this is her answer.
CARELL: Oh, God.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Name one person you think everybody finds funny.
LISA KUDROW, ACTRESS: Steve Carell.
MORGAN: That's true.
MORGAN: I've never heard anyone who doesn't find Steve Carell funny.
KUDROW: Yes, right.
MORGAN: That's right. That's true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: See, I -- I challenged her, thinking there wasn't an answer. And, actually, she came up with two. She said Tina Fey, as well, who pretty much --
MORGAN: -- because I think you're right.
CARELL: No, it's mostly me.
MORGAN: I don't think she is that funny.
CARELL: I think -- no. I -- no.
MORGAN: It's all about you, isn't it?
CARELL: Tina Fey? Oh, good book.
CARELL: Yes, she can actually write a book. Yes, she can executive produce her own show, but not -- not so good.
CARELL: That's really, really kind.
Again, it's -- I think it's a matter of personal taste. You know, our -- our own influences growing up, I had -- I had people like from Peter Sellers to Steve Martin to, you know, to Jack Lemmon. You know, it was sort of all over the map in terms of my --
MORGAN: But biggest comedian wasn't your great burning ambition as a kid, was it?
CARELL: No, not at all.
MORGAN: You were going to be a lawyer or whatever.
MORGAN: You had all sorts of little career paths lined up.
MORGAN: What was the moment for you when the lights came on and you thought, no, I'm going to be a comedian? Because to me, it's always seemed this --
MORGAN: -- horrible, soulless profession, having to make people laugh.
MORGAN: It must be the hardest thing in the world.
CARELL: It was when I started getting paid to do it, because I thought, oh, I'll be in -- if I can make money as an actor, if I can make a living as an actor, that was my goal.
But the fact that I just, over time, realized that I was making more money being a comedic actor than a dramatic actor. And so, that's -- that's what -- what it was for me.
MORGAN: Do you -- do you feel a pressure to always be on?
We were talking about this a little earlier. I mean, when you go out and people meet you, when they meet me, they just want to say, hey, you know, what was Steve Carell like? When they meet you, there must be this horrible pressure for you to be constantly hilarious.
CARELL: No, I constantly set the bar really low.
CARELL: But, seriously, like going on a talk show, I see some comedic actors -- comedians going on and just swinging for the fences in terms of -- of their bits and what they're doing. And I, early on, decided I'm going to be congenial, but I'm going to try to do any more than that.
And if it's funny, then, you know?
MORGAN: Let's talk a little break, gents.
When we come back, I want to talk to you about the presidential race, because I'm imagining it from a comedic point of view -- instantly you're laughing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIANNE MOORE, ACTRESS: From work, you met him at the Christmas party. The one --
CARELL: Please stop.
MOORE: The last person in the world I want to hurt is you.
CARELL: If you keep talking, I'm going to get out of the car.
MOORE: If I did, it shows how broke we are --
MOORE: Oh, my God! Help!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That was "Crazy, Stupid Love," one of the favorite comedy movies of the year for me, certainly. Starring Steve Carell, who's back with me now.
The comedy legend -- I keep calling you a legend here.
CARELL: I know.
MORGAN: David Steinberg, I like this. Well, you've written this. You must love this.
MORGAN: Let's talk about the comedic value of the presidential race and the Republican race in particular. There's been some fantastically funny moments in this.
But you do -- do you thank God every day that these things happen?
STEINBERG: Yes. This is a gift from God to comedians, the likes of which we have never seen. It's like we --
STEINBERG: You couldn't -- it's a ship of fools that is -- it's just unbelievable. You know, I used to have a theory that I took almost through all of -- all the presidencies. And it was that you're either -- it's like "The Three Stooges". You're either a Moe, who's in charge, or a Larry, who wants to be a Moe, or you're Curly, who is nuts and totally just off the page.
MORGAN: Who's been -- and if you look at those --
STEINBERG: But this is all Curlies.
MORGAN: It's a little bit like that, isn't it?
STEINBERG: There -- there is no Moe and Larry here.
MORGAN: Almost everybody has huge comic potential, I think.
CARELL: Well, actually, I was just thinking of your analogy. I was thinking Ron Paul is sort of a Shemp.
STEINBERG: He's a Shemp, there's no question.
CARELL: Yes. Yes.
STEINBERG: That's true.
CARELL: I mean physically a Shemp.
STEINBERG: Yes. That's rare.
CARELL: It was funny. When we were on "The Daily Show," when I was on "The Daily Show" with my wife, it was the same way. We were so thankful when anything that we perceived of as ridiculous would happen.
MORGAN: You watch the news and rather than most people, who just want to have information or whatever, you must be just itching for something to happen where you just start laughing your head off.
CARELL: There were researchers on "The Daily Show" that would just -- that's all they would do is watch for those little tidbits. And they'd cut them and they'd throw them in there and, you know, and -- the writers were fantastic.
STEINBERG: But when you watch the -- these debates, where they go at each other, I think the philosophy that you get from them is that character is overrated.
STEINBERG: They don't care about character in any way, shape or form.
MORGAN: That's right.
STEINBERG: So, it's gone. And I think it's been overrated through the years, you know, and -- you know, not the best, some of the best presidents, their character wasn't great.
So, the Republicans are sort of in the sweet spot of having no character. And --
CARELL: But character only matters when someone else is lacking in character.
MORGAN: Yes. Yes.
STEINBERG: Yes, that's right.
MORGAN: They can be devoid of character and you can go after them for that.
MORGAN: It will hide your own lack of character, right?
MORGAN: You've made this great series about comedy.
Who -- if I could trap you both on a desert island separately and you could have one comedian with you to make you laugh for the rest of your days, who would you take?
CARELL: I would take Alan Arkin.
CARELL: Because he makes -- one-to-one, he makes me laugh more than anyone I've ever met.
CARELL: He is -- he's so dry and so acerbic, he just -- I love being around the man.
MORGAN: Who would you take?
STEINBERG: I'd probably take Groucho. I might take Marty Short, again, non-stop funny all the time. But Groucho was so acerbic and he was fun.
MORGAN: You came to this late in terms of acclaim and everything else.
If you're honest, did you prefer life before, when you were more anonymous, or have you actually embraced the whole fame thing with great enthusiasm?
CARELL: It's much, much better to be rich and famous.
CARELL: It's -- there's no --
MORGAN: I love that honesty.
CARELL: I mean, what do you say?
I -- but my life hasn't changed that much. I certainly have more money than I did. But my home life, my family life, all of that really has stayed essentially the same.
MORGAN: I mean, you're resolutely normal is my sense of you. When I read interviews and stuff, you say you still go to the mall. You go to the movie theaters.
MORGAN: You've got two young kids. You like to just -- you don't go partying. You just do your job, you go home --
MORGAN: You're batting way above your strength with your wife.
MORGAN: Everyone is in agreement about this.
CARELL: I think -- I -- I don't dispute that in any way.
CARELL: But it -- it's interesting, because I think had -- because this all did happen later in life for me. And I think I sort of had my ducks in a row at that point. And I had figured things out, for the most part, in terms of my goals and my wants and dreams, and what was giving me happiness, ultimately.
So I think if it had happened early in life, I don't -- I don't know if it would have been the same story. I like to think it might have been, but you never know, you know?
MORGAN: It's a lot tougher to deal with, I think, if you get that kind of thing when you're younger.
Let's have another break. Let's come back and talk about "The Office," because I know Ricky Gervais very well, the monster that spawned all this. I want to know what you feel about him, about leaving the show --
STEINBERG: And "Inside Comedy" we're going to be talking about.
MORGAN: Yes. Yes. Your show, right?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARELL: You will be thin. You won't drool over pizza like an animal anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But --
CARELL: You will find love.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm pretty much OK with who I am now.
CARELL: Don't be. You should never settle for who you are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Classic Steve Carell from his "Office" farewell.
He's back with me now, along with David Steinberg.
"The Office" obviously began with Ricky Gervais in Britain. What was interesting about watching your version was that he was more empathetic, your character. And I've heard you say the reason was you wanted to create something that could run for, as it did, indeed, under you, seven series --
MORGAN: -- rather than just this sort of 12-program thing that Ricky came up with.
Tell me about that.
CARELL: He knew that the run would be limited and he could play this guy that was just insufferable and a truly terrible person.
MORGAN: No redeeming features.
CARELL: Not that we could see. Not --
MORGAN: Whereas yours did, a bit, I felt.
CARELL: Well, I --
MORGAN: I liked it.
CARELL: I did feel that, ultimately, in order for -- because television, people are -- I know it sounds like a cliche, but they are inviting them into your homes every week. They are inviting these characters into their living rooms.
And so they don't want complete jerks in their living rooms. And I thought in -- in order to make it a lot more palatable, that you had to see a bit more of the -- the human --
MORGAN: Has it been a wrench leaving?
I mean, I know -- I know you've been e-mailing your old colleagues and stuff like that.
MORGAN: They're back filming without you.
MORGAN: I mean, a weird thing when you lose the star of the show.
CARELL: It was strange. I miss -- I miss my relationships there. You know, I haven't -- I just saw everybody at the Screen Actors Guild Awards for the first time in -- in a while and it was great. You know, it was just --
MORGAN: Do you miss the character?
CARELL: No. I felt like I -- I -- it was the right time for me to leave the character.
MORGAN: What -- what do you think of the whole Ricky Gervais, Golden Globes, just coming out and offending Hollywood shtick?
Could you do what Ricky does?
CARELL: Oh, not in a million years. No.
CARELL: I think I would just get too skittish. I -- I am --
STEINBERG: But you could play a Ricky Gervais character.
CARELL: Perhaps. But to actually go in front of people and --
MORGAN: And offend them to their faces.
CARELL: I don't think I -- I necessarily -- it doesn't mean that I'm a better person. It just means that I certainly don't have that kind of guts.
He -- it's like he always makes fun of me, always. And he -- he's also, you know, per -- in a personal way, very sweet to me. Like before one of these awards shows, he pulled me aside and he said, hey, I've got a few things that I wanted to go after you with, is that OK? I'm like, of course.
And so, he's -- there is a side, there is a gentler side to him that people don't necessarily see.
MORGAN: No, but he's a gentle -- he warns you before he annihilates you.
CARELL: For me, yes. And you know what? I take it as a badge of honor.
MORGAN: You've got seven movies on the go, is that right, over the next two years?
CARELL: And I'm writing a symphony and I have a cooking show coming up.
MORGAN: But could you imagine -- let's go back 10 years.
MORGAN: Did you ever imagine here you'd be in Hollywood in your smart power suit, in the middle of a seven movie extravaganza --
CARELL: Yes, no.
MORGAN: -- earning you, potentially, a billion dollars?
CARELL: A billion dollars. I -- I wouldn't --
MORGAN: The billion dollar movie star.
CARELL: Within the year, I'll be a billionaire.
MORGAN: You must pinch yourself a bit, don't you?
CARELL: I'm always pinching myself.
CARELL: I -- I'm going to grow another arm so I can constantly pinch myself.
MORGAN: Because most of -- the other great thing here, most comedians are tormented by terrible things that happened to them.
And that brings all the comedy. And I've interviewed a few where you can tell, that's the motivation for why they go and get affirmation from the --
MORGAN: -- crowd.
But they -- there's a great quote about you that said the most wounded thing about you is that you're not wounded.
CARELL: Judd (ph) said that.
MORGAN: Yes, I loved that line.
MORGAN: I loved that line.
Do you -- do you concur with that? Do you feel like you've managed to avoid the normal comedic hell?
CARELL: Oh, you know what? I -- I don't think that is necessarily the -- I -- I don't think it's necessarily true that you have to be a wounded soul in order to --
STEINBERG: Well, for --
CARELL: -- become a --
STEINBERG: -- for stand-up comedy, if you've had a great childhood and a happy marriage and enough money, you're going to make a lousy stand-up comic.
MORGAN: Yes, it's true. It's true.
MORGAN: It's absolutely true.
MORGAN: You need to have had cigarettes burned on you for years, don't you, to be genuinely -- to make an audience laugh?
MORGAN: That's the sick society we live in.
CARELL: Well, it's that thing about us, you know?
MORGAN: We're sick people.
CARELL: I suppose. Yes.
MORGAN: Most people will laugh at other people's misfortune.
CARELL: That is true.
MORGAN: Isn't that -- I mean, that's what would seem to me the bedrock of real comedy.
CARELL: You know what, I read a quote -- I read a Woody Allen quote this morning in the paper. And that is, if it bends, it's comedy. If it breaks, it's not, which I thought was a really --
CARELL: -- interesting --
CARELL: -- way to put it.
CARELL: Because it's true, if it's -- if it's still -- if it's painful but it's still within the realm of being OK, it can be funny.
MORGAN: Tell me more about "Inside Comedy," because I love the premise of the show and the -- and the fact that you've got access to all these greats, Billy Crystal and so on.
STEINBERG: So, he talks about the Oscars. And he talks about opening for Sammy Davis, Jr.
STEINBERG: Brad Garrett talks about a hilarious story about opening for Sinatra when Sinatra is in his '80s and he's -- and Brad Garrett is like 21, 22.
And Marty Short was Jerry Lewis for the whole half hour, practically.
MORGAN: Did you enjoy making this thing together? I get the sense you've got great chemistry between you?
CARELL: It's so -- I -- you know what? I think David is the best interviewer because he puts people at ease.
MORGAN: Well, hang on a second. It's --
CARELL: In terms of --
MORGAN: Rewind there, Steve.
STEINBERG: For comedy.
MORGAN: For comedy.
CARELL: Only because, you know, you have all of these people who -- who do tend to be on a lot. But -- but he puts them in a comfort zone and -- and allows them to not only be funny, but to be themselves.
So you find -- you find out a little bit more about them in a -- in a personal way, which I think is great.
MORGAN: Chaps, it's been a great pleasure. I love -- I love the documentary. It's going to be a great -- it's a great series.
STEINBERG: Thank you.
MORGAN: I recommend everybody to watch it. Thanks for coming in.
CARELL: Thank you.
STEINBERG: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: Thanks, Steve.
Much appreciate it
Steve Carell and David Steinberg. "Inside Comedy" airs on Thursday on Showtime.