Here’s how the pitch for Life’s Too Short went:
Gervais: Who is the funniest person alive?
Merchant: Well, obviously you are.
Gervais: Right, and who are the funniest race of people?
Merchant: Well, I’d have to say dwarves.
Gervais: Correct again. So what do we have?
Merchant: Another version of Extras with a dwarf acting just like you?
Gervais: Comedy gold.
So, Gervais and Co. have put out a show called Life’s Too Short, a hilarious pun based on the fact that the show’s leading man is, in fact, a dwarf.
Life’s Too Short is a mockumentary on the life of Warwick Davis, star of Willow and bit player in Star Wars and Harry Potter. He is struggling to make ends meet as an actor, has a pathetic accountant and can’t get a girl. Replace the word ‘accountant’ with ‘agent’ and you have the plot of Extras.
Like Extras, this show relies fairly heavily on special guest stars to draw in the fans. Some guests give more than others. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter were fantastic, giving lots of screen time and making themselves come off as total kooks and insensitive pricks. Liam Neeson was great doing improvisational comedy with the crew. Steve Carell had about two minutes via Skype.
Davis does do a great job, I will admit. His awkward ramblings, looks to the camera and funny dancing are all wonderful. Gervais and Merchant make brief appearances in each episode, mostly looking down on other actors in a generally funny way. Steve Brody handles the roll of unbelievably bad accountant well but to me, the star of the show is Davis’ assistant, Cheryl, played by Rosamund Hanson
There were a couple of genuinely funny moments, but that’s across the entire 7 episode series. The problem is that the show is a one-joke pony. Warwick Davis is very, very short and that makes things difficult for him, and funny for us. Now I don’t really care about sensitivities. If you want to make jokes about dead babies and dying pandas, fine. I’ll be right there with you, laughing all the way. As long as they’re funny. Most of the short jokes here are nothing special at all.
Here are a few things that dwarves struggle to do:
- Look out of a peep-hole
- Climb bookshelves
- Get out of cars
- Find love
- Cuddle tall women
We get to sit back and laugh hysterically as Warwick attempts all of these to great comedic effect. Is it funny? Well, sort of, I guess. I mean, it’s funny watching bad things happen to other people. Also, anything that is too big or too small is generally amusing so I guess dwarves fit right in, along with novelty sombreros and miniature ponies.
The Office (BBC version) is without a doubt one of the greatest comedy shows around. I’ll happily put it up there alongside Fawlty Towers for uncomfortable comedy. Like Matt LeBlanc however, the sitcom magic ran out of juice and nobody has had the heart to say anything. The Office was full of absolute genius from beginning to end. Extras had some fantastic moments (Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Kate Winslet, I’m looking at you) but was fairly tedious overall. Life’s Too Short has plumbed the depths of mediocrity, and is unfortunately a little too long for my tastes.