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"I've learnt that my brain isn't as interested in stuff as I am."
Karl Pilkington
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Karl Pilkington (born 23 September 1972) is an English television personality, comedian, actor, author and former radio presenter, best known for his work with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. He appeared on The Ricky Gervais Show where he gained prominence for his unique philosophy and outlook on life. His fame increased after appearing as the presenter of An Idiot Abroad where Ricky and Steve sent him round the world, much to his own discomfort.

It was Karl himself who best summed up his worldview: "I don't like fun". He is not a fan of holidays, parties, traveling, or anything that has to be planned in advance.


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Tropes relating to Karl Pilkington:

  • Afraid of Doctors: Going to the doctor is always a last resort for Karl, with his main fear being that they'll make him go through a prostate exam.
  • Animated Adaptation: In The Ricky Gervais Show.
  • Ascended Extra: Was originally only the producer of The Ricky Gervais Show but wound up being a regular after Ricky and Steve found out that Karl's unsual worldview was a humour they had to exploit.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Karl has problems paying attention, such as his tendency to just read the headline of a story and assume the rest, even if it's a story that interests him.
  • Brutal Honesty: Karl is never one to hide his thoughts. When asked on Alan Carr: Chatty Man what his motivation for making "The Moaning Of Life" was, Karl replied "Yeah, it's a job, innit?". Karl has said he's in it for the money going back to the XFM days, and specifically said he kept doing An Idiot Abroad and The Moaning Of Life to pay for various house repairs that needed doing.
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  • Butt-Monkey: To quote Ricky Gervais: "There's nothing funnier than Karl in a corner being poked with a stick. I am that stick". On the XFM shows, Steve would regularly insult Ricky long before Karl joined, and Karl would regularly insult Steve. Ricky, however, is particularly vicious towards Karl compared to either of them.
  • Catchphrase: "Alright", which is Karl's version of hello, goodbye, how are you, etc.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Karl's bizarre worldview and stories are what drew Ricky and Steve to him in the first place.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: There have been a few times where Karl has made comments that make Ricky and Stephen either agree with him or become curious and indulged in the conversation rather than mock his ideas. When Karl was asked about what he would change in what is being taught in school, he said that he'd ask kids questions that would make them think rather than make them give an answer. Ricky did agree with him completely until Karl made a usual odd comment that contradicts his own argument or ruins his credibility in the discussion note . It has been shown multiple times that Karl is smarter than he appears but his wording is too disorganised and poorly phrased to show it.
  • The Comically Serious: Karl actually cracks jokes a fair amount, but always in a dry, complaining way.
  • The Eeyore: He can be relied upon to see the worst in just about everything. The whole appeal of An Idiot Abroad is having Karl react negatively to seeing the world's wonders and being thoroughly unimpressed; it is notable however that Ricky has a habit of inserting stipulations or activities into going to see the wonders that would likely annoy anyone, such as putting him in a terrible hotel room and so on. In "The Moaning of Life," however, he is in a much better mood overall
  • Freaky Is Cool: He's interested in 'Freaks', such as The Elephant Man.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: It's not that Ricky and Steve don't like him as such — as a matter of fact they seem to think he's the best thing since sliced bread — but they're just awful to him most of the time and quite understandably can't respect someone who's got such utter bollocks spilling from his mouth.
  • Friend to Bugs: Many of his stories from The Ricky Gervais Show involve insects and his fascination with them.
  • Genius Ditz: Depending upon how you read him. While his thoughts are very odd, his reflections are occasionally strangely insightful and intelligent.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Karl never had a full education, but he seems naturally good at a number of things. When he actually tries to be funny, he always catches Ricky off guard and makes him laugh. He's also a surprisingly good actor, and he's not half bad at singing.
    • He's noted for being good at DIY and complains if he has to hire a handyman because he'd rather do it himself. He contrasts this with Ricky's tendency to hire people because he can't be bothered. Contrary to his image of being disinterested and lazy, when a subject interests him, Karl really goes for it. "The Moaning Of Life" Series 2 has a particularly odd selection of people, who Karl visibly enjoys spending time with.
    • When Karl writes poetry, Ricky loves it unironically, thinking it's genuinely witty and clever.
      Ricky: I'm sort of mildly disappointed that they're quite good! No poet's ever written about jellyfish and kidneys! It's great! Oh God, I think you might have the market sewn up there!
    • Karl is very good at editing and audio engineering, and was able to show off his talents during his film quiz in the XFM show, where he would seamlessly insert himself into various movies and interact with the characters.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Karl doesn't have a malicious bone in his body, but sometimes Karl will completely blindside Ricky and Steve by saying something that sounds absolutely horrible. He truly means what he's saying, but it's never out of hatred. Sometimes he doesn't even realize he's saying something horrible. For example, the time he said he had a blind date with a girl, and she revealed she had a (possibly fatal) bone marrow problem. Karl broke up with her because...
    Karl: I thought "What's the point in spending time with her and spending money on her and stuff and then she's gonna die on me."
    Karl: No! No, but, seriously! No, but I'm just- See, this is what annoys me. I'm just saying what's the point in me getting upset and stuff?
    Ricky: Ah! No, it's not the- It was just the "What's the point in spending money on her if she's gonna die anyway!" You've gotta realize that's not a normal thing to say!
  • Insane Troll Logic: A lot of the show is spent with Ricky and Steve arguing with Karl on random subjects, due to a combination of his bizarre worldview, lack of understanding on the subject, inability to view things from a perspective other than his own, and general stubbornness that he's right.
  • Oop North: A native of Manchester, a veritable Cloudcuckooland the way he tells it.
  • Near-Death Experience: Karl has experienced several throughout his life, but also has a tendency to treat less severe incidents in his life as this.
    • Almost choking to death on a Mr. Freeze popsicle, where mother had to give him the Heimlich maneuver.
    • Nearly falling out of an upstairs window when he tried to sneak out to do his paper round during a blizzard after his mom locked him inside. Luckily his dad came home just in time to save him.
    • During his brother's wedding, Karl nearly walked over a cliff because he was reading a book as he was walking.
    • After he ate a bunch of somewhat spoiled cream donuts being thrown away by the bakery his mom worked at, Karl got a bad stomachache and his mother called a doctor, who sarcastically told them he didn't have long to live. Being Sarcasm-Blind, they took what he said seriously and needed Karl's dad to call the doctor to ask how long he had left, only then finding out that he was just kidding.
    • He treats the time he had a kidney stone operation as being life threatening, much to Ricky's protest, saying that if it wasn't, they wouldn't have had him sign forms dictating who would get his stuff if he died.
  • Neologizer: Karl has a tendency to misspeak and make up words on the spot, such as foodage (food), probleming (bothering), glunge (wet muck or filth) and flumpf (bad or lowbrow).
  • Resigned to the Call: His reaction to going around the world in An Idiot Abroad.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The now-infamous "Mr K. Dilkington" letter received by Karl and explained in one of his diary segments. Made particularly annoying for him as it starts off with "Dear Mr. K. Dilkington: You are one of our most valuable customers", and later crosspollenates with My Nayme Is when someone sends an e-mail addressing Karl as such. And later used mercilessly by Stephen and Ricky.
  • Technophobia: Downplayed, as Karl doesn't outright fear new technology, but has said on multiple occasions that we should stop inventing things now, since he thinks nothing useful is coming from modern inventions.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Karl doesn't always talk complete nonsense. His main problem is that he's absolutely horrible with words, and even if what he's saying is true, or at least has some truth to it, when he explains it, it'll still sound hilariously stupid.
    Karl: I sort of know what I mean anyway. When I'm saying stuff, I know that I'm not that great at explaining what I'm getting at, but deep down, there's something there.
    Ricky: Yeah, there is. He doesn't look smart, and he didn't have a full education, but he's got a spark of genius about him.
    Karl: I'm like Columbo. You know how everyone is like "He's daft." But then he gets them in the end.
  • Verbal Tic: He ends sentences and that with "and that".
  • When He Smiles: Given his normal demeanour, on the few occasions when you actually see him smile or laugh, it makes a huge difference.
    Ricky Gervais: I made Karl laugh . . .
  • With Friends Like These...: With Ricky and Steve, especially Ricky.
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