Podcast: Ricky Gervais gets the Richard Dawkins award, and the two chat for an hour

June 27, 2023 • 9:15 am

I have to tend rooftop ducks this morning, so posting may be a bit light. As always, I do my best, but ten ducklings and their mom need food and water.

Although I generally avoid watching long videos, I watched this one and highly recommend it.  The occasion was Ricky Gervais getting the 2019 Richard Dawkins Award, bestowed yearly by the Center for Inquiry. I’m not sure why it was posted four years later, but I found it on Dawkins’s Poetry of Reality Substack site along with these brief notes. (UPDATE: I just found that there is a three-year-old video that’s a tad different, with a pre-introduction introduction by CFI President Robyn Blumner. Both videos are otherwise the same.)

The inaugural episode of #ThePoetryOfReality is finally here! Join me & Ricky Gervais, actor, writer, irreverent comedian & poignant tragedian. CFI gave him the 2019 Richard Dawkins Award. Then I had an on-stage conversation with him & Richard Wiseman, psychologist, comedian & conjuror.

Lots of laughs, lots to think about. See for yourself.

Here’s what the award is given for:

The Center for Inquiry presents the Richard Dawkins Award annually to a distinguished individual from the worlds of science, scholarship, education or entertainment, who publicly proclaims the values of secularism and rationalism, upholding scientific truth wherever it may lead.

It has been awarded each year since 2003 and was originally given by the Atheist Alliance of America in coordination with Richard Dawkins and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science (RDFRS). Since 2019, the award has been given exclusively by the Center for Inquiry of which RDFRS is a part. Richard Dawkins must approve the recipient and bestows the award with a personal tribute to the awardee.

The video comprises a really good (and funny) introduction by Dawkins, and then a rousing discussion by Dawkins and Gervais, moderated by an equally lively Richard Wiseman.  Gervais is quick and adept with the impromptu humor, but there’s also some serious discussion of science and atheism. It’s a good package.

Note that Gervais has a beer to quaff during the discussion, an amenity that should be offered to more discussants. It’s a good lubricant for conversation—not that Gervais needs one!

Gervais is a hero of mine: he’s eloquent, funny, and a superb screenwriter and actor (if you haven’t seen “After Life”, do so).  And he doesn’t much care what people think of him. As someone who got that award a while back, I’m really humbled to be in his company—and the company of other recipients, many of whom are also personal heroes, like Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry.

Richard’s introduction goes from 1:33 to 11:39, and the rest of the 74-minute video is the discussion. There’s also a brief private intro and outro by Dawkins.  I was surprised at how young the audience was!

The segments (from YouTube). The links go to the right places, but I recommend watching it all.

00:00:00 Prologue
00:01:26 Introduction
00:12:13 Start of Discussion
00:08:04 The Reward Of Living A Good Life And Ricky’s Belief In Kindness
00:12:32 Ricky Gervais: Confronting Evil With Humor
00:17:07 Fear Of Eternity, Not Death
00:20:41 Analogies And Crocodiles
00:26:46 Cloning Mammoths: An Ethical Dilemma
00:31:19 Atheism Perception And Personal Boundaries
00:37:00 The Debate On The Existence Of God And The Category Mistake
00:40:16 The Importance Of Honesty And Bravery In Comedy
00:45:11 Author’s Thoughts On Their Books And Most Original Contribution
00:50:34 The Differences Between The Us And Uk Versions Of The Office

7 thoughts on “Podcast: Ricky Gervais gets the Richard Dawkins award, and the two chat for an hour

  1. Thoroughly enjoyed that. I knew I would because I’m a huge fan of both Richard Dawkins and Ricky Gervais, but this was my first exposure to Richard Wiseman and he was brilliant.

    Very much looking forward to seeing how Richard’s Substack develops.

  2. I have followed Ricky Gervais career seems like for ever and I am still a great fan. I particularly enjoyed his Netflix “talks” not for the faint hearted or the easily offended or triggered as I believe now is the normal term. He does deliver some interesting language!
    His Dawkins Award is/was well deserved.

  3. As chance would have it I’ve recently watched a few interviews / conversations from past years featuring Ricky Gervais. IMO he is a true asset to society. I look forward to watching this video.

  4. I’m a fan of Gervais, but man his last show Afterlife was inadvertently an advertisement for theism. His theistic characters were obvious buffoons and strawmen, and he just wallows in inconsolable misery for 3 seasons. It made it look like you had 2 choices in life, misery or joining a cult. I think most people would take the cult.

  5. “That’s what dogma does. People try and give ideas human rights so you leave them alone.” — Ricky Gervais

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