I like Ricky Gervais …

… but the way you, Ricky, lash out against fat people, considering myself still part of that population1, is kind of a disgrace that falls back on you, mainly for the weak main point you make. You’re perfectly right that fat people2 can’t be compared with gay people. Except if you considered the genetic predisposition for both to be the defining factor. Whereas for fat people it’s considered one of many factors (but not the defining one), for gay people it is fully accepted that it is similar to being born female, male, black etc. Unless you are a born again Christian and closeted gay hater. Nevertheless I firmly think3 that you can be addicted to food. As such your comparison with drugs in the introduction to the fat people segment is spot on.

So with that out of the way your claim is that everyone knows about calories or more precisely how calorie intake and output work. Really, Ricky? Heck, most people when asked don’t even know that calorie is a unit for energy, let alone that a kilo-calorie (kcal = 1000 cal) is actually the unit used (along with kilo-Joule, kJ) to denote energy content in food and often wrongly called “a calorie”, despite the three orders of magnitude difference between one and the other. So, Ricky, given I didn’t grow up in the UK, I take it that in the UK food, its preparation and appreciation, its energy content, the concept of its energy-density (fruit low, fat and consequently chocolate high) are part of the curricula of all pupils? Is that so? That would explain why the UK has given the world such “delicacies” as deep-fried Mars bars, or in general deep-fried anything. Oh sorry, being sarcastic again. Or am I? Germans don’t have the genes for sarcasm, so it must be cynicism then or something. Well, I can tell you it wasn’t part of the curricula when I was young and grew up in the GDR and later a reunited Germany. If this isn’t the case for the UK either, perhaps it should be on the curricula along with how to handle money?! But then of course, we don’t need to learn these things, do we? They’ll be magically transferred into our minds, somehow. Surely. At least between not learning it in school4 you somehow acquire that knowledge when you grow up to be an adult, right? That’s your proposition.

See, Ricky, there is another thing. When you grow up as a kid, you are not the sole ruler in your life as you are when you become an adult. And growing up as a “chubby” kid isn’t easy, I can tell you – from first hand experience. The fact that other kids pick on you and bully you for your body shape or for your inaptitude to use your body in physical education or just because you are different, it really leads to a vicious circle. You know, Ricky, those candies, they can be really consoling when you got no real human friends. That doesn’t make them healthier or anything, but when all you need is consolation, they’ll do just fine. Occasionally people will be friendly to you, even outside the immediate family, but it’ll be hard to find real, lasting friends. I for one found this kind of friends only after 10th grade. Anything before that, I hate to remember. If I think of class reunions, I usually go:

Well, I still am in touch with the few people who weren’t ass, excuse me, using British spelling to get the point across now, arseholes, so what for do I need to meet people whose presence I never enjoyed in the first place?

Perhaps it’d be different if I was a public figure now, like you, had “made it” and could point fingers and laugh and would have the majority of the audience behind me because I’m actually funny while doing it. Just for giggles? Nah, I think I’d still prefer a Brazilian wax treatment over a class reunion.

Speaking of that vicious circle. It’s not just internal, you know. It’s all around us and in a sense, although I find your stand-up hilarious – including the parts on fat people -, you may well be part of the problem I am about to describe, Ricky. See, fat people of all ages are being made fun of. So far not too surprising or too upsetting. But now comes the ridiculous part: we are in fact being made fun of even when we’re in the process of losing weight or trying to do something about it. That’s right. It’s particularly funny to see a fat guy run, isn’t it? “Wibbly-wobbly” without the “timey wimey” part comes to mind. It’s not like that guy is trying to do something about his weight and should be encouraged or at least not discouraged. No really, it’s his civic duty or so you, Ricky, make us believe with your odd comparisons. Instead let’s ridicule the guy. Ugly, disgusting, fat guy. I mean that guy is obviously not a very aesthetic view and even more so when moving this massive body, so as a skinny or even just skinnier than fat person that clearly entitles you to make fun of that guy, right? Well, not you personally, Ricky, but your stand-up won’t really encourage a lot of fat people to do something about their weight, because they lack self-confidence in the first place, stuck in a vicious circle. Not a problem you seem to be too familiar with, obviously5 – self-confidence, I mean 😉

The problem is that most fat people don’t choose to be fat. Most people, in fact, are probably very unhappy with their state, unless of course they are member of the NAAFA or a similar organization. I for one can tell you that even just losing the first 10 kilos was a huge boost in happiness and self-confidence for me. But you need to get started. And when you start you are still fat. So how do you get started and stay motivated if everyone around you tells you that weight loss is an insurmountable task6, has no clue because they didn’t go through weight loss themselves or simply ridicules you for your current body shape? … thus keeping you “firmly in the circle” as Jack Byrnes would say? For me it was a long subconscious process until I was finally ready to make the first steps that worked. I had gone to a gym several times before, without much success. But exactly your claim that people know about calories wasn’t true for me. And I know it wasn’t and still isn’t for a lot of other people. Where would they, would we, learn it? And please don’t put up the strawman argument about labels on food packaging. Because even though this gives a guidance, you still need to know how to use this information in the first place. Not to mention that not all foods have the caloric contents outlined in that nice table and some put up obstacles such as x calories per portion of size z. Really? Give me the amount of calories per 100g and I’ll be the judge of the rest, after approving of the list of ingredients.

Discipline and will is but one aspect. One really important aspect is knowledge. Heck, I didn’t know that what sates the hunger is the amount of food, not the calories; but that calories are what makes us gain weight. I also didn’t know the concept of calorie-density. Go and eat as much lettuce as you can and you are likely still under your daily energy quota. Well, not exactly the most satisfying or healthy method7, but whatever.

On that note: you’d be surprised how often people give me the look when I really indulge in some food and enjoy it, e.g. in a restaurant. They probably think that just because I’m overweight I shouldn’t eat or something. Heck, how do you fuel the weight loss engine your body is? That’s when I usually think:

Fuck you, folks, I just swam for an hour8 and this is a well deserved steak (or two, or burger or whatever).

… whereas many of those skinny prejudiced people wouldn’t be fit enough to last for ten minutes of breast stroke swimming. Personally I agree with one of my best friends that it’s a lot better to be fat and fit than be skinny and unfit. Doctors or fashionistas may disagree with me, so what? I don’t give a flying fuck. And on another note: no, most fat people do not appreciate food. They love eating food, but they don’t care about what they stuff into their mouths. I for one came to the conclusion that, given the self-imposed calorie quota, I care about what goes into my mouth. Quality over quantity. And yes, I realize that there are fat people who fully appreciate good food, but I would hold that the majority doesn’t. The majority loves food or whatever they may call it, but there is no true appreciation for it, which can be witnessed by the amounts of processed food they consume.

But back to knowledge. Fruit juice is healthy, right? Well, yeah: the orange juice is certainly healthier than the glass of cola, but both have approximately the same calorie density and consequently contain the same amount of calories. Problem is, if you don’t know or realize that, you might end up drinking fruit juice a lot. After all, it’s healthy. Or milk, same thing. I did. But water is healthier still, and has less, i.e. no, calories. So now I drink a lot of water, unsweetened tea or tea only sweetened with proper stevia9. In fact nothing easier than to lose four to five kilos in a week – I just have to stop drinking those amounts of water10. But then, I know now, that’s just cheating myself. Knowledge, there it is again.

I get it, it’s possible that some people in your audience will go home after the show and actually do something about their weight. But still that’s a somewhat unlikely scenario. More likely they’ll feel offended and frustrated and seek consolation in that candy bar they have securely stashed in some drawer. Yay, the vicious circle has you firmly.

But then, just like I would expect religious people to take your jokes with dignity, so will I. I simply thought a few remarks … or rather a rant would be in order, because even though you have good points, your main point is a really weak one.

Peace, and keep up the good job!

// Oliver

  1. despite ongoing efforts to change that []
  2. I really hate the politically correct “obese” []
  3. no, not believe []
  4. assuming you managed to get through your youth slim []
  5. I envy you a little []
  6. hint: it’s not, but it won’t be easy – but then, it took some time to gain the weight, may take some time to lose it []
  7. yes, scientists tried an all-veggie diet on humans, no nuts or seeds either for the calories … people ended up on the toilet after a day or so and spend most of the day chewing and then getting rid of the vast amounts of uhm … not so well digested food []
  8. or two hours, did up to three hours and nineteen minutes so far []
  9. not the stuff that has maltose or similar sugars in it []
  10. but that’d be stupid because water is needed to keep the “reactor” going and drive the weight loss []
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1 Response to I like Ricky Gervais …

  1. Corrine says:

    Bravo! Excellent points throughout.

    I hadn’t heard of this “comedian” and did a quick search and see his “specialty” is cringe comedy, insult comedy, observational comedy. Personally, I don’t see how insulting others can be considered comedy but I don’t like the Three Stooges either.

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