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Radio / The Ricky Gervais Show

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From left to right: Stephen, Ricky and Karl, as animated in the HBO Animated Adaptation.

Ricky Gervais basically describing the entire show.

"You'd never put yourself, say, in a position again where you have two people trying to wind you up for the sake of fun and laughter for the public on a tinpot radio station between one and three every Saturday."
Ricky Gervais describing the XFM era of the show

The Ricky Gervais Show is an online radio show starring comedians Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant (of The Office (UK) and Extras fame) and producer Karl Pilkington. The show started in 1998 as a weekly radio show on UK digital music station XFM, but has gone online since 2005. For a number of years, it held the Guinness record for most downloaded podcast. HBO aired three seasons of an Animated Adaptation of the podcast, animated In the Style of Hanna-Barbera cartoons, running from 2010 to 2012.

The show basically has the format of a Seinfeldian Conversation: Ricky, Stephen and Karl talk about life in general, the news, amusing anecdotes and sometimes even a little life philosophy. The show started with just Ricky and Stephen, but eventually, Karl was included into the show, since Ricky and Stephen realized from talking to him that Karl's bizarre worldview was a source of humor they just had to exploit. Recently, they produced a series called "The Ricky Gervais Guide to..." and focused on topics like Medicine, England, Society, the Future, and the Human Body, though the discussions rarely remained that focused.

This show provides examples of:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: When especially angry after Rockbusters or Monkey News, Ricky would vow it's the last time they're doing that feature, only for it to be brought back a few weeks later.
    • Gets pronounced to the point of a Running Gag in compilation videos, where Ricky is vehemently asserting that's the last time he's ever allowing Karl to do a particular segment less than a third of the way through the whole mess.
  • 90% of Your Brain: Karl believes this to such an extent that his film idea proposes two people surviving with half a brain and still retaining complete cognitive function.
  • Accidental Art: Karl's story of how Salvador Dalí came to think of making a lobster telephone after throwing a lobster at another artist in a restaurant and it happening to land on a nearby phone. Ricky naturally tells him that it's a load of bollocks.
  • Accidental Pervert: Karl once spotted a woman in the apartment across from him walking around naked. She noticed him looking, and Karl decided in that moment to make things even by dropping his boxer shorts. Ricky says Karl's reasoning for doing that sounds like a bad excuse given in court.
  • Accidental Pun: One of Karl's "cryptic clues" in Rockbusters was "I don't think them birds should be allowed in this area" and the band begins with "B". Ricky, Steve and the listeners all figured the answer was Boyzone, with the logic being that only boys were allowed in the area and not birds ("bird" being British slang for girl). A perfectly valid answer, but Karl's answer wasn't Boyzone, it was The Bangles, as in "ban gulls". Ricky and Steve agree that Boyzone would have been a better answer.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: For one of Karl's Rockbusters clues, he actually managed to forget what the answer was, even though he made up the clue, and he had to rely on the listeners to get it right in order to have the answer. Ricky and Steve were astonished.note 
    Ricky: He's waiting, he's biting his fingers, waiting for an email, to tell him...the answer, to the clue he made up but can't get. I love that as an experiment. As a pscyh- I mean, that would confuse psychologists, that you come up with something you can't get. It's brilliant.
    Steve: Yeah, you came up with the question, you don't know the answer.
    Ricky: And you expect them to but you can't and you made it up.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: As much as he disliked (or at least constantly ridiculed) most of Karl's features like Rockbusters, Educating Ricky, Monkey News, etc., Ricky seemed to genuinely enjoy the "Karl in a Film" segments in which Karl edited his voice into a scene from a famous movie.
  • Agent Mulder: Karl.
  • All There in the Manual: The trio refer to photos and such that are sent in, they are available here.
  • The Aloner: Karl mentions that the astronaut who remained in the Lunar Orbiter during the Apollo 15 mission (Alfred Worden) became "the loneliest man ever in the world."
  • Ambiguous Time Period: Whenever Karl is telling a story about something that supposedly happened in the past, he never gives a specific date for it, just saying it happened "ages ago".
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Steve re-tells a story he saw on TV about a tribe in Papua New Guinea. After one of their members was killed by a rival tribe, they forced the killer to pay them in livestock and then marry the widow. Karl being Karl, he interrupted the story to ask why they hadn't just gone to the police instead.
  • Angrish: Ricky at times; he uses it purposely in some of the intros to Karl's segments (Karl's diary: "Oh, he's gone and written it down, the fffnnnn... *trails off into wordless grumbling*")
  • Animated Adaptation: Originally started as a radio show, then a podcast. It basically just animates the stories the characters tell on the show, with truly hilarious results.
  • Apocalypse Anarchy: Stephen Merchant says that, if the world were ending soon, he might kill a man, just to know what it's like. Ricky responds rather seriously by saying that it would be unfair even in an end of the world situation to rob another human being of their last hours or days of life, Karl would "kick a duck up the arse."
  • Armed Farces: Some of the stories involving Karl's brother Mark. He had an affair with his commanding officer's wife and was kicked out of the army for "nipping out for some fagsnote  in a tank".
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When the trio was talking about how to cure world hunger. Ricky mocks one of Karls ideas for solving the problem, but when Karl asks what his idea is as a solution, Ricky's response is to fumble and quickly say that he doesn't know and doesn't want to pretend to know.
  • Art Evolution: Starting with the second season of the cartoon, the animation started to gain more Kricfalusi-style elements and become more expressive and lively.
  • Artifact Title: Even Ricky argues the show by this point is "Karl says something MENTAL".
  • Artistic License – Biology: Karl doesn't understand nature, and frequently speculates to fill in the gaps. For example: He was convinced that slugs eating postage stamps was a nationwide problem, and that slugs were sticky because they ate so much stamp glue that they sweated it from their pores when nervous.
    • Karl genuinely believes that leaf insects evolved as a result of a beetle and a leaf "getting it on", and in the same conversation reveals that he thinks at some point a stick evolved into a stick insect. Ricky's attempt to explain that there is no biological relation between the two is lost on him.
  • Artistic License – History: Karl is seemingly convinced that dinosaurs lived alongside prehistoric humans, ala The Flintstones or One Million Years B.C..
  • Ascended Extra: Karl. He started as producer of the show and was not on the air at all, but Ricky and Stephen then started actually talking to him and realized he was comedy gold. He's become pretty much everyone's favorite participant in the show, which isn't surprising since Ricky can become an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist in a matter of seconds and Stephen often acts as The Watson. It's reached the point where in the animated adaptation, only a few non-Karl bits (ie stories and such told exclusively by Ricky and/or Stephen with little or no interjection by Karl) have appeared.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Sometime’s it's hard to feel sorry for Steve when Karl offends him.
    • Karl finally beating Ricky on the lateral thinking puzzle note  it is one of the most satisfying moments in the show and in the history of radio.
  • Author Appeal:
    • Both of Karl's movie pitches revolve around someone having their brain (or part of their brain) transplanted into the body of another person.
    • Ricky is a self-professed fan of The Simpsons and makes frequent references to it.
  • Baby-Doll Baby: Karl Pilktington tells a story about a homeless lady who used to walk around town pushing a baby carriage. It turned out that inside was a bucket with a face painted on it.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals:
    • On an episode of the show Ricky, Steve and Karl talked about a story on the The BBC news site about an organised fight between a Lion and Cambodian Midget Fighting League (which has since been proven to be a hoax). This leads the three to discussing animal rights and Ricky explaining to Karl why he’s more concerned for the lion than the midget fighters because he believes it’s wrong to force a scared animal that doesn’t know what’s happening to have to defend itself in a fight (comparing it to bullfighting in Spain which he also condemns).
    • On another episode Steve read a story where a pair of chimpanzees at an animal sanctuary mananged to escape their enclosure, viscously mauled a visitor and were shot dead. On a rare occasion both Ricky and Karl are in agreement and are both annoyed that the chimps were shot, agreeing that shooting the chimps would have only been justifiable if they were shot to stop the attack but not if the animals were executed afterwards.
  • Better with Non-Human Company: Karl seems far more comfortable around bugs (or ghosts!) then friends or family. During a date with Suzanne, he becomes far more interested in the ladybug that lands on his arm.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: When Steve is propositioned with the idea of humanity's final day on earth, he rather calmly admits that in such a situation he might just go mad and murder an innocent stranger. The reasons he gives for this are: because he's been a reserved and docile person all his life; because everyone is doomed to die anyway; and because there wouldn't be normal repercussions and it wouldn't matter anymore. Ricky soberly calls him out on this. Karl, on the other hand, simply remarks that he's always wanted to kick a duck up the arse.
  • Bile Fascination: In-Universe: throughout the second season on XFM, Richard Anderson repeatedly tuned in solely to e-mail in comments such as, "What actually is the point of your show? Is it to confuse, irritate, depress, or what?"
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Back when the show was being broadcast on XFM, Ricky and Steve would make fun of the radio station and its listeners almost as much as they'd make fun of Karl and each other.
  • Black Bead Eyes: A majority of the characters have these, except Stephen.
  • Bleak Border Base: In one episode of the podcast Ricky, Steve and Karl learn that Ricky has been nominated to record a special message for a group of scientists who are isolated in a base in Antarctica (who they end up dedicating the episode to) and they discuss world news and events that the scientists may not have not heard. These include the death of the pope, Foot long spiders that eat chicken and Pig Olympics in China.
  • *Bleep*-dammit!: When discussing Feng Shui, Ricky started repeating the names of the three Star Gods because one of them was called "Fuk", giving him a pretext to swear on air. Karl tried to mute him but ended up muting practically all the words except Fuk.
  • Bluff the Impostor: On the XFM show, they discussed Britney Spears holding a concert at a small gay nightclub in London. However, to get tickets, the bouncers would "quiz" you to ensure you were a frequent patron. Steve and Ricky, of course, acted out this scenario.
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: Karl rarely understands metaphors and often takes them literally. He thought the saying "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" was advising people not to throw things around inside their house because they might break something expensive.
  • Brain Transplant: This is the premise for both of Karl’s pitches to movie studios which Ricky and Steve both mocked and thought we’re were ridiculous.
  • Breathless Non Sequitur: Karl makes these constantly, but it's not so much him actually setting up jokes and more of a case of him kinda losing track of what he's talking about.
  • Brick Joke: On the 21st episode of the second season, shortly after Christmas, Steve recounts a visit to an HMV in which he signs a fan's The Office DVD. Since the fan works at the store, Steve asks, "Selling well, is it?" The fan says it is, but many people have been returning it as well. Later in the show, they receive an e-mail from their "number one fan," Richard Anderson, who, as usual, has a snarky comment. Ricky then notes the previous week had been the first week without an e-mail from him in a while. Much later in the show, Steve reads another e-mail from Richard, in which he explains he was unable to tune in the previous week because he was at HMV returning the copies of The Office he received for Christmas.
    • In another episode, Ricky and Steve tell Karl two fairly detailed stories about crabs taking on information from ground up silicon chips and the baby of two bodybuilders forcing its way out of the womb. Karl is fairly impressed, until Ricky and Steve revealed they made up the stories to convince Karl he shouldn't believe everything he hears. A bit later in the broadcast, Ricky starts telling an anecdote about a card trick performed by Derren Brown that ended with the chosen card being surgically removed during an appendectomy.
  • Butt-Monkey: Part of the reason Ricky and Stephen added Karl to the show is because he's SO great at being on the receiving end of their verbal jabs. He actually takes it in pretty good stride, though. Ricky and Stephen have even hung a lampshade on it by comparing him, both physically and in attitude, to Charlie Brown.
  • Camp Gay:
    • This Segment.
    • In one Series 3 discussion about care nurses for disabled people helping said disabled person have sex - Ricky acts out a situation with two Camp Gay tetraplegic men asking Karl to help them.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: When Suzanne asks if he loves her, Karl replies "Yeah, you're all right."
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: The biggest difference between Karl and Ricky and Stephen: Ricky and Stephen CAN tell a joke. Then again, Karl doesn't need to tell any jokes, since he's naturally (and accidentally) hilarious.
  • Cargo Ship: In-Universe. Ricky and Steve suggest Karl had this relationship with a calculator from his childhood.
    • And before that, a house brick.
  • Catchphrase: Karl's "What I'm saying is..." (or "I'm just sayin' that...") or "No, but what I mean is...", Ricky's "THINK, you idiot!"
    • Gervais' exasperation has spawned a new one; "Don't. Talk. Shit."
    • Karl also uses the phrase "knocking about" a lot, even in situations where he is trying to make a serious point. Naturally this renders whatever he's saying hilarious.
    • Lampshaded by Steve at one point:
      Steve: How many times have we heard Karl use the phrase "I'm just saying that..." followed by such a stream of nonsense that it's blown our minds?
    • Ricky cutting a conversation short with "Play a record." Once he went one better and told Karl to play two records, and another time he immediately changed his mind and ordered Karl to stop the record so he could continue berating him.
      Karl: [about Derren Brown] I was talking to people at work about him, and one lad said, apparently the trick that he uses is the same thing that Hitler did.
      Ricky: Play a record.
      Then later, when Karl has been expounding on Derren's superhuman abilities:
      Steve: But what are you claiming? Because Derren Brown himself admits that it is not paranormal, it is not supernatural, it is a trick.
      Karl: [knowingly] Mmm, well.
      Ricky: But he would say that, wouldn't he? Hitler said that. Play a record.
    • When Ricky interrupts one of Karl's anecdotes or unorthodox lines of reasoning, Steve will talk over him, exclaiming, "Let him finish!" As the series wears on, his patience shortens and will often deliver a rapid fire "shut up, shut up" as Ricky tries to continue his protests.
    • "Alrigh'." Karl's usual method of acknowledgement.
    • In the early Xfm shows, when Steve and Karl often rubbed each other up the wrong way, Karl would frequently shut Steve down without even trying, prompting Ricky to exclaim, "He's done you again!"
  • Celebrity Paradox: Karl pitches an idea for a movie about a failed actor who gets his brain placed inside Tom Cruise's body. When Karl is asked who should portray the actor in his original body, Karl suggests Ted Danson. Stephen is quite perplexed about the concept of a universe where Tom Cruise is still a famous actor yet Ted Danson isn't.
  • Centipede's Dilemma: Many times Karl will be telling a story and Ricky and Stephen call him on the possibility of said scenario working. This leads to some very, VERY outlandish explanations.
  • Characterization Marches On: When Paul "The Party Animal" Parker was first mentioned in the cartoon, he was imagined as a schoolkid wearing bowling shoes and a Doctor Who scarf who was asked to plan his school's parties. From his second appearance, where he was discovered to be an adult, he was reinvented into a Ferris Bueller-esque legit party animal.
  • Chew Toy: Stephen. While Karl is the butt of the show's jokes, Steve tends to be the butt of the world's. He believes that tallness should be considered a disability because of all the insults he gets and the expensive things he has to buy because of his tallness (like he can't fit into small cars, has to buy things from expensive Big And Tall stores). His story about Carnival in Rio is epic (basically, despite the reputation of Brazil's women as being sex fiends, he couldn't get a single woman to pay attention to him, and STILL can't), along with the story about how he was not allowed in a night club because he didn't bring any women with him.
    • One woman said that she was "frightened" by a picture of him on a subway because he looked absolutely gargantuan compared to everyone else.
  • Childhood Brain Damage: In the early Xfm shows, Karl once mentioned that as a child he fell off a horse and ended up being kicked in the head by it. Ricky and Steve can't resist saying that this could explain a lot.
  • Cloudcuckooland: The Manchester estate where Karl grew up. So far, we've heard of "the lady whose mum was a witch", Shorts Man (who used short shorts to flash people), a woman who kept a horse in her house and had a son who chased cars, Jimmy the Hat (who never wore a hat), Scruffy Sandra (Exactly What It Says on the Tin), a man who tattooed himself and accordingly had terrible tattoos on his dominant arm, and Karl's uncle Alf(red) who had a mattress in the back of his van but slept in a rubber dinghy. Among many others.
    • There's also Miss Piggy - a spouse-abusing thief who tries to steal biscuits and, when accused, talks in a mirror, as well as 'Benny', a friend of Karl's father, who owned - and 'thumped' - a monkey.
    • Between this and Karl's claims of casual trips to seemingly anachronistic businesses (toffee shops, cobblers and fishmongers), Stephen has repeatedly asked if Karl actually lives in Narnia.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Karl Pilkington. His grip on reality is openly questioned by Ricky and Stephen, but they wouldn't have him any other way.
    • The Cuckoo Lander Was Right: Sometimes Karl will say something utterly preposterous that is quickly dismissed by Ricky and Steve, but actually is telling the truth, such as his claim about modern cavemen living in the South Pacific.
    • The general consensus on Karl (at least on YouTube) seems to be he's quite insightful and intelligent, but lacks the vocabulary to express what he means properly.
  • Comic Trio: Ricky is the bossy one, Karl is the idiot (albeit more contrary than the classic model), and Steve is The Smart Guy who tries to mediate but is constantly put down.
  • The Comically Serious: Karl delivers almost every single line in a flat monotone and appears to be permanently serious. This, of course, just makes his ramblings even funnier, as it gives the impression that he believes every single word he's saying, no matter how ludicrous. He does make jokes on rare occasion, which seems to delight Steve and Ricky.
    • He also seldom laughs at the jokes the other two make - although given he's the butt of much of Ricky's material, that may be understandable. As such, it's genuinely surprising when he openly laughs at a line of Ricky's, to the point where Gervais seems openly pleased about it.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Happens to Karl OH SO MUCH, due to his famous inability to understand metaphors. For example, while talking about idiomatic expressions, he said he didn't get "don't throw rocks if you live in a glass house", since he can't see why anyone would wreck their own house by throwing rocks from inside it. Ricky and Stephen were howling in laughter.
    • Karl gets asked what would his superpower be if he could have any. The first things he questions is "But why have I been picked?" Stephen immediately goes "OH, FOR GOD'S SAKES!!" Then Karl says the reason he asks is that it carries responsibility. Touche.
    • Then there's the time when Karl came up with the idea of a watch that tells you how much time you have left to live. Ricky asks him how such a watch would work. Karl's reply: "Well you just put it on your wrist..."
    • Ricky is telling Karl about a tree frog with enough poison in it to kill 1000 full-grown men. Karl being Karl takes this as meaning the frog in its lifetime will go out and murder 1000 people. They are never able to convince him otherwise, even when he mentions it in other podcasts.
    • Really, we could list half the podcast under this item, so it might be best to stop here.
  • Complaining About Shows You Don't Like: During the second season of the radio show, Richard Anderson regularly e-mailed the show solely to make fun of it.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Karl's dad is convinced that Princess Diana was killed by flower companies in order to increase their sales. Ricky and Steve dismiss it straight away, but Karl would be interested in seeing the business graphs from before her death.
  • Creepy Cross Dresser: One scene in "War Time" feature Karl's face on a woman's body and hair to match
  • Crippling Overspecialization: In discussing bodies of knowledge in connection with quiz shows, Karl suggests that there's snobbery about being an expert on something like Coronation Street and suggests a respectable "brainy" specialty would be "Latin Tattoos"
  • Crying Wolf: Occasionally becomes a problem for Karl; he spends so much time talking about stuff which is obviously ludicrous nonsense that when he actually says something that has the element of truth to it (or is indeed just entirely accurate), Steve and Ricky are automatically primed to reject it out of hand. This isn't even as rare as you'd think.
  • Deranged Animation: Occasionally devolves into this territory, such as the short sequence about Steve not appreciating Ricky's cat as it likes to "go for [his] ghoulies."
  • Does Not Like Spam: Ricky has it in for Turkey Twizzlers, every mention of them is to point out how only Fat Idiots eat them.
  • Dope Slap: Karl is CONSTANTLY in the receiving end of the verbal version of these.
  • Double Entendre: Ricky and Stephen love making them, despite (or perhaps because) of how uncomfortable it makes Karl. This is doubly true, although more legitimate, on the older XFM (radio) shows, as Karl was afraid of the repercussions of Ricky or Steve swearing on-air. Of course, the one time XFM got a complaint and Ricky and Steve were meant to be reprimanded, Karl forgot to tell them.
  • Double Standard: Ricky and Steve are allowed to say anything, pretty much literally anything, in terms of insulting Karl and his overall lack of intelligence, appearance, and attitude, but the second he says anything about them, they will act like he's being ingrateful or biting the hand that feeds. Often justified due to the complete drivel that Karl comes out with, but sometimes, it does feel like Ricky in particular crosses a line.
  • Double Take: Sometimes, the things Karl says will drive Ricky and Stephen to baffled, stupefied silence.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: During one show, Karl refers to Steve as an "invalid". What follows is a long awkward silence. Then, Ricky quickly states that they had a request to play a song. It's one of the few times where Ricky doesn't have a snarky remark. You can hear Steve's bitter remark of "I...I don't want to do this right now" in the background while the music was playing. invoked
    • Every so often, Karl's lack of political correctness about certain issues will prompt Ricky and Steve — themselves not exactly shy about playing with politically incorrect humour — to react in a "Whoa! Hold on there!" fashion.
    • Probably the best example is when Karl is talking when he went out with a girl who he later found out had a (supposedly) terminal illness. He broke up with her soon after because he didn't see the point in spending time and money on her when "she's going to die on me". Ricky literally screams "Oh God!" in disgust before calming down and saying, even though he understood what Karl meant, you still can't say something like that in public.
    • Another instance happened on the 46th episode of the second season. When they were discussing swearing, Karl says he thinks Jesus swore. When asked why he thinks this, one of the reasons he mentions is that having nails in your hands and feet has got to hurt. Ricky quickly attempts to change the subject and tells Karl he hopes he didn't offend any Christians.
  • Deus ex Machina: During the monkey news segment about the bank robbery, the Monkey in questions turns up out of nowhere, disarms the robber, steals the cash and runs off with no explanation of where he came from or what he was planning. Still, he at the very least saved the customers from being killed by the gunman.
  • Disability Superpower: Karl considers Autism to be a superpower; he also thinks it's a far better disability to have than a "cyclop".
  • Dull Surprise: In one podcast, Ricky reads Karl a fan letter telling him how awesome he is. Karl's reply is a flat "Cheers."
  • Dumbass Has a Point: On several occasions Karl has made really good points but is often unable to communicate what he means in a clear and concise way and Ricky and Steve won’t understand and will usually dismiss what he said as being rubbish. Occasionally, Karl does say something profound, even if he doesn't recognize it as such and was usually thinking of something a lot less profound (often involving a monkey) at the time. Other times, Karl would actually tell stories or recite facts that either had actual factual basis or were even just plain correct, but would get shouted down by Ricky and Steve all the same.
    • In a 2002 episode, when Karl presents a 'logic' puzzle to Ricky and Steve (nutshell: man turns on light before he goes to bed, why?). The answer is that he is a lighthouse keeper, with Ricky blasting him about the fact that the light is off at day and calling him a buffoon. When Steve (and hopefully ANYONE listening) realises that Karl is right, this leads him to cheer jubilantly on-air.
    • When talking about the "Russian Shop" with its antiques Karl wonders why somebody in Russia who went off to live in seclusion in the forest on his own was canonized as a saint and commemorated when everybody else who stayed in the city and "put up with it" (ie: the stresses of the day-to-day grind) has been forgotten and asks "Why has he got a plaque?". Why indeed?!
      • Except in that instance, the story is related to us via Karl, who doesn't even tell us the saint's name or go into real specifics about earning sainthood.
    • Ricky actively calls Karl out on several occasions for the question of "What are those things in Gremlins called?", which naturally suggests that Karl is being a complete idiot for not being able to remember the name of the monsters who actively feature in the title. However, the creatures in Gremlins are, prior to turning into the more reptilian monsters, called 'Mogwai'.
      • While Ricky admits later in the broadcast that he realizes Karl was thinking of Mogwai, it doesn't stop him from making fun of the question in future appearances.
    • When discussing how to solve world hunger, rather than constantly giving them supplies that can only last for a day at most, Karl suggests giving the impoverished the tools and education to become self-reliant instead of giving short-term solutions for life-long problems. He also suggests that companies should stop giving them non-essential equipment that they don't know how to use or have the means to use. Ricky says the agriculture idea wouldn't work because Ricky wrongly insists there's no water in Africa whatsoever.
    • Karl is known to have difficulty finding the right words to get his point across, so on the occasion where he does say something correct, he may either get important details wrong or make it sound like his usual nonsense. One example is when he says that animals who interact with humans will learn certain behaviours from them to adapt to human society; while Ricky and Stephen dismiss it, it's not only true, but it's actually the very reason why domesticated house-pets exist.
    • Karl was once asked about what he would change about schools and how lessons are being taught, Karl managed to make Ricky agree with him by saying that teachers should ask open-ended questions in order to make students think of their own answers and interpretations.
    • An odd case in which Ricky was just as wrong as Karl; the latter believed Rasputin to be a creature that lived under a bridge, only for Ricky's girlfriend to point out he's thinking of Rapunzel. Ricky then corrects her, saying that Rapunzel was the story about guessing the antagonist's name...except that was Rumplestiltskin, not Rapunzel.
    • Karl's Educating Ricky's feature involved several enticing and intriguing headlines (usually based around a bad pun like "What's Tomato With You?" or bizarre lunacy like "alien gives man a beard") that he said would get people interested and make them remember the facts better, which Ricky and Steve dismissed as nonsense. However, both were genuinely interested to find out what some of the headlines were about and usually managed to remember what they were about, proving Pilkington right.
    • Karl's opinion on gay marriage is to just let them get on with it because it's not harming anyone.
    • His views on Moral Guardians blaming Gangsta Rap and Murder Simulators for violence is that it's nonsense, because people have been killing each other for thousands of years. Ricky actually agreed with him, until Karl opened his mouth again.
      Karl: Violence has always been about, innit, like cowboys and Indians, they didn't have Playstations and Tupac then, and there was still violence.
      Ricky: What do you mean? In the wild west?
      Karl: Yeah. Do you know what I mean? So you can't blame it on stuff, it'll always happen, that's, y'know, that's the world, innit, it's made up of different types and that.
      Ricky: Again, he's right. Again, he's sort of right in a way, in his innocence, in his buffoonery-
      Steve: I didn't hear what he said.
      Ricky: He just said there's always been violence. You know what I mean?
      Karl: Even, y'know, dinosaurs, look at them. They cause a lot of trouble.
      Ricky: And then he went too far, and he made himself sound like a fool again.
    • Karl makes a point about not petting service dogs because it could follow you after showing it affection. Modern day service dogs often come with warnings to not pet them so as not to distract or otherwise inadvertently mislead them.
  • Dumb Is Good: Despite being a complete moron, Karl is all in all an innocent, good person. In An Idiot Abroad, the only sins he could come up with were reading the unforwarded mail of his flat's former tenant. He also took pride in saving flies from drowning in his pool so they could live another day, and felt sorry for a worm being eaten by a robin.
    • Meanwhile, Ricky is clearly fairly clever and comes up with terms like "metabrain" (to describe a secondary brain that influences your primary brain, when Karl is discussing whether "you control your brain or your brain controls you"). And he's also a big jerk.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first editions of Karl's features were often quite different from their usual version. For example, the first playing of Rockbusters had listeners phone in and play on air rather than email in the answers.
  • Eccentric Townsfolk: Karl's stories about his childhood feature a lot of these. His co-hosts regularly remark that he grew up in a nursery rhyme or a Roald Dahl book.
  • The Eeyore: Karl. Ricky often gets angry at him for complaining so much when, as Ricky sees it, he has close to no problems or responsibilities.
  • Emotionless Guy: The only thing that keeps Karl from drifting completely into woobie territory from his co-hosts' put-downs is his apparent lack of an emotional reaction. Despite being on the receiving end of their insults, being so detached he rarely if ever seems genuinely hurt by it.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: Ricky and Steve occasionally miss the mark when it comes to accusing Karl of saying gobbledygook. One example, used in the animated show, is the term "top brass" to refer to the police officer in charge of an operation (in this case, during an example of a hostage negotiation).
  • ET Gave Us Wifi: When talking about inventions, Karl proposes that computer chips came from the UFO that crashed in the Roswell incident.
  • Everything Is Trying to Kill You: Karl's feelings on Australia, naming several of the (many) dangerous species that live there as to why he refuses to go there. Especially camping.
  • Eye Cam: Discussed Trope; when Karl's narrating his idea for a movie where a failed actor ends up being put into the body of Tom Cruise, he spends some time specifically pointing out that when the main character is coming to "the screen does that thing that makes it look like opening eyes".
  • The Faceless: Suzanne in the animated show. Whenever they have her drawn for a story involving her, its always from behind, or her face obscured by an object, or in the fifth episode, completely enshrouded by darkness while standing in a lit doorway leading into a dark room, and later episodes just resorted to showing her with bangs. The reason why is that she's asked that her face not be in the public domain, a point which the fans have respected.
  • Fire-Breathing Diner: Ricky relates how one time he and Karl went out for Japanese food. Ricky looked away for a moment, and when he looked back, Karl was scrambling for a glass of water. Turns out he ate their side of wasabi, thinking it was a single mushy pea.
  • Flanderization: Bizarrely, a Real Life example. In the old XFM shows, Karl was more vibrant and laughed just as much, and as loud and clear, as the other two, but by the time of the podcasts that became the animated series, Karl almost always has a constant poker face, even then only breaking it when he gets frustrated. In a season 1 (2002) episode, Karl outsmarts Ricky with a riddle (see the Dumbass Has a Point entry above), and celebrates by cheering and shouting at the top of his lungs - something fans who have only seen the series couldn't even imagine Karl doing. In the entire animated series, Karl only laughs once - to which Ricky and Steve are delighted - and it's only a quiet chuckle. Either Karl is putting it on for the podcast, or being with Ricky has just broken him.
  • Flashback Cut: Done in the animated show.
  • Flat "What":
    Karl: I told you, didn't I, about my dad's mate who had a monkey and he had to thump it?
    Stephen: What.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Karl refers to Hurricane Katrina as "the bad wind."
  • Foregone Conclusion: Almost every "Monkey News" segment ends with the 'shocking' revelation that the unidentified person at the centre of the story was, in fact, some kind of primate.
  • Freudian Slip: Karl!
  • Fun with Subtitles: In the animated series, Karl writes in his diary about watching a documentary on Adolf Hitler with Suzanne. In the cartoon, the subtitles for the documentary are Hitler announcing the plans for... the Volkswagen Beetle.
    "What do the German people need? A car! A small, affordable car that is shaped like a powerful bug. Cute, colorful, and with the engine in the back! Yes, I said it. The engine in the back! No more junk in the trunk. What you going to do. Soon, I will give you the people's car. With room for two people up front."
  • Gasshole: Supposedly, Karl's Auntie Nora once broke wind for five straight minutes, with one long continuous fart. Karl believes the sheer amount of medication she's on is to blame for this. If this is all true, she would hold the world record for longest continuous fart.
  • Glasses Curiosity: Stephen Merchant mentions this being a serious pet-peeve of his, since the people trying on his glasses always react the same way: "Oh, I can't see a thing!"
  • Going Commando: One of Karl's more infamous stories involves him sitting on the floor as a kid, turning around to look at his Auntie Nora, and finding out she wasn't wearing any underwear under her caftan. He describes what he saw as looking like a ripped tennis ball.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: During the Guide to the World Cup, Ricky Gervais comments that "Goz Unlimited" sounds like the name of a dance duo.
    • Karl talks about looking through a gay magazine, describing the focus as "Just cock. Just, 100%, like, let's just talk about the knob..." Ricky comments that "100% Cock" would be a good name for a gay magazine.
    • Band names were discussed at length in the XFM show, and put to a test in which Ricky and Steve would pretend to introduce them at a big event. If the band name didn't sound right after "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage", then it wasn't a good band name.
  • Grand Theft Me: The plot twist of "The Love of Two Brains."
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: One of Stephen’s anecdote’s on the podcast was that he was once at an ATM and discovered someone had left a card behind in the machine, he returned the card but decided he would give himself a small reward of £30 for returning it which would also serve as a warning to the person that their carelessness could have cost them a lot of their money if someone less decent had discovered the card. Stephen still stands by the decision, Rick disagrees with taking any money, Karl agrees with Stephen in principal but believes he should taken a little less.
  • The Grinch: Karl doesn't enjoy Christmas. He claims it's because it's always the same every year and that he doesn't get a choice to celebrate it or not. Steve and Ricky claim it's because he's just a 'miserable bastard' who's always complaining.
  • Guinness Episode: One XFM show had Ricky and Steve force Karl to attempt world records, one for how many hamburgers he can stuff in his mouth, and the other for how many grapes he can eat in three minutes. Karl failed on both attempts. The three of them, however, did eventually manage to get into the Guinness World Records book in 2007 for having the most downloaded podcast.
  • Haven't You Seen X Before?: Ricky and Stephen are sometimes AMAZED at the things Karl is ignorant of.
    • Karl can sometimes catch them off guard with something only he seems to notice. For example, he was annoyed at the doctor talking to him about his kidney stones, because he was, as Karl puts it, one of those old doctors who is so educated he doesn't need to open his eyes. Ricky and Steve are completely dumbfounded by this observation and don't know what he's talking about, and Karl doesn't understand why they haven't seen this before.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: The Boyz magazine in the animated adaptation.
  • Historical Hilarity: Any time there's a discussion of human history, this turns up. Usually made even funnier by anything Karl says. Essentially the whole point of their "Guide to..." series.
  • Hollywood Homely: If Karl and Ricky's comments are any indication, Steve is lankier than a stick insect and has eyes the size of dinner plates. When in reality, he's not only perfectly fine to look at, but generally considered better looking than either Karl or Ricky.
  • The Hyena: Ricky, usually when Karl says something.
  • Hypocritical Humor: "Don't be ignorant." -Karl, near the end of season 1.
    • Ricky seemed genuinely astonished and bemused when Karl, without a trace of irony, said that "I think I think more than most people."
      Ricky: Yeah... Karl, I've known you for four years. And all you ever say is things like "why do we have jellyfish?"
      Karl: No, I haven't mentioned the jellyfish today.
    • Ricky himself has sometimes gotten basic facts wrong in the course of berating Karl, or claimed that even the bits of his stories that are true couldn't happen. The latter part, at least, can possibly be justified through Karl's poor and inarticulate method of telling stories, which can often make it very difficult to tell what is fact, what is fact he's exaggerated and / or somehow distorted, and what's just completely made-up. Ricky even said that Stephen Hawking could be speaking to Karl and all that would come out of Karl was "gobbledygook".
    • In "The Ricky Gervais Guide To Philosophy", Karl expressed annoyance at Rene Descartes ("I think, therefore, I am") obviously having plenty of free time on his hands. This annoyed Steve, who immediately pointed out that Karl himself is a rather lazy person who seems to have plenty of free time on his hands as well (Karl once lamented that the highlight of his week was going to the cobbler's) and has yet to produce anything from it on the same level as Descartes, so shouldn't be criticising others for having plenty of free time.
  • I Love the Dead: In a Series 3 episode, Karl discusses who should be allowed to have a child. Stephen and Ricky pretend to be a couple asking if they can adopt; when Karl asks them what their jobs are Stephen says he's a rapist and Ricky responds "she" disposes of the bodies and that Stephen often does them in the wrong order. (It doubles as Black Comedy Rape simply due to how absurd the situation is.)
    "Sometimes I dispose of a body and he's like 'I haven't raped that one yet!'"
  • Inconsistent Spelling: The now-infamous "Mr K. Dilkington" letter received by Karl and explained in one of his diary segments. Made particularly annoying for him that they suggest he's one of their most valued customers, and later cross-pollinates with My Nayme Is when someone sends an e-mail addressing Karl as such.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: In the animated adaptation, as shown in the photo on this page.
  • Innocently Insensitive: A shining example in Karl over a myriad of subjects. He has even ended up hurting Stephen's feelings a few times all while being none the wiser.
    • His comment on Vicky Lucas was especially controversial. He ended up apologizing for that one.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Karl uses this a lot. For example, he's willing to donate all of his organs except his eyes. He doesn't want to donate his eyes because he's afraid of becoming a blind ghost. Even though he is convinced that blind people will get eyes in the afterlife.
    • Another example: Karl believes that snakes and spiders like hiding under rocks. The Earth is essentially a giant rock, with Australia underneath. That's why there's so many snakes and spiders in Australia.
    • Karl thought the dodo went extinct because it tasted terrible and no-one wanted to eat it.
    • He believes that slugs move so slow because their slime is them sweating the glue they eat from stamps.
    • Ricky's response to Karl's questions about the world getting too heavy.
    Ricky: I think we've got to kill off endangered species and burn trees. That's the only way the earth can survive!
  • Insistent Terminology: Ricky hates when Karl calls his Rock Busters clues "cryptic."
  • Insult to Rocks: Karl says, "Back then I wasn't as wise then as I am now," to which Ricky asks, "What was he, some snot in a jar?" Steve promptly apologizes to any "snot-in-a-jar" listeners who may have been offended.
  • Intellectual Animal: Karl has a tendency to attribute human-like thought processes and intelligence to animals and insects. Even worms. And then gets confused why they don't act the same way he would in various situations. Needless to say, this opens him up to a lot of jokes from Ricky and Steve about how these animals, while not possessing the kind of or level of intelligence that humans do, are still much smarter than him.
  • Interspecies Romance: One of Karl's monkey news segments is a twisted take on the story of Oliver the Chimpanzee, where a zookeeper takes pity on a lonely monkey and takes it home where it seduces his wife.
  • Ironic Nickname: When discussing nicknames, Karl discusses the ones he remembered people had on the estate where he grew up. One was a man called Jimmy the Hat, who apparently had this nickname because he never wore a hat. Ricky and Steve are confused how anyone would pick up on this enough to make a nickname out of it.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: Steve thinks calling him lanky or goggle-eyed is fair enough but don't call him goofy!
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: In Karl's Monkey News story about the monkey doctor, he gives away that the doctor is a monkey by calling the doctor "it" before the reveal, not that it wasn't already obvious.
  • I Was Just Joking: Karl was worried about swearing in the XFM days. In response, Ricky and Steve told him (off-air) that the Queen Mother used to swear profusely, citing a bunch of fake quotes riddled with 'F's and 'C's. At the beginning of the next week's show, Karl said on air that "the Queen Mum used to have a right mouth on her", and Ricky and Steve had to explain that they made it up.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: A trope that Karl happens to believe as fact for real ghosts.
  • Jury Duty: A question about Karl's hair (or lack thereof) leads to an anecdote of Karl performing jury duty. Cue maniacal laughter by Ricky.
  • Kiss of Life: Steve told a story about how a kid he knew thought he could resurrect a bird that had been hit by a car just by kissing it.
  • Knights and Knaves: One episode sees Ricky and Steve present the "Heaven and Hell" version of the puzzle to Karl, who, true to form, first tries to solve the puzzle without even coming up with a question (asking if he could look through the keyholes of the doors or feel them to tell if they're equally warm). Ricky and Steve finally goad him into coming up with a question, and his brilliant idea is... to pretend to be a postal worker with a parcel that God needs to sign for. When both Ricky and Steve, playing the roles of the guards, claim that God is behind their doors, Karl seems to think that saying "Look lads, I'm just tryin' to do a job here" will cause one of them to cave. Ricky and Steve eventually explain the logical answer (although since they've added the detail that the Heaven guard always tells the truth and the Hell guard always lies, their answer is more complicated than necessarynote ), but Karl apparently either doesn't listen or doesn't understand a word of it, as he remains convinced that something about the liar's demeanour would give him away, and that you'd have to trust your instinct to know which one is which.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Karl often proves to be a particularly frustrating example of this for Ricky and Steve, as he will often misread something or only briefly skim it without fully digesting what it's saying (or — frequently — just make something up entirely) and then use this half-understanding to come up with a flawed and inaccurate impression of what's going on. And then will refuse to accept that he's wrong about it. Conversations will frequently have examples of Karl stating an inaccurate or clearly misunderstood point, Ricky or Steve correcting him, a brief pause, and then Karl saying "No, but..." and continuing on as if they hadn't spoken.
    • For example, he saw a blurb in the paper about a fly with glasses. He assumed that the fly was near-sighted and they were correcting his vision. This prompted a tirade from him about why humans are "saving everything". After laughing, Ricky has to explain to him that it's an art piece to show how awesome lasers are and that they didn't prescribe corrective lenses for a fly. They try to ask him how they would even test for near-sightedness in a fly and Karl replies, "Well, he'd be bumping into stuff". Cue maniacal laughter.
    • He even outright admits his tendency to skip over or wildly misremember information from news stories. While summarizing an average day in his house, he describes Suzanne pointing out that a news story about "worms with teeth" was something completely different.
    • Ricky finally summarizes the problem as that Karl is only willing to pay attention or retain information if he thinks its interesting, not if it's true. Since the reality of something is often more mundane than the conclusions he draws, Karl tends to just ignore any attempt to correct him and persists in his misinterpretations.
    • Ricky himself is guilty of this more than a few times; he gets hard determinism confused with chaos theory, and can't solve Karl's lighthouse riddle.
  • Lack of Empathy: Karl seems to have a mild version of this; he's certainly not sociopathic by any means (he can be fairly sympathetic to others, including bugs drowning in his pool and worms), but he seems completely unable to put himself in the shoes of the person (or animal, as the case may be) that he's discussing, to the inevitable end that he's completely unable to understand why they just don't do what he'd do in that situation (such as, for example, why people in famine and poverty-stricken nations don't just move somewhere else). This tends to lead to some of his failures of logic.
    • The aforementioned girlfriend with a terminal illness incident comes to mind, as he didn't see the point in spending time with someone who he thought was going to die soon. He was more worried about "wasting" his money and free time than he was giving someone who's presumably not in a happy stage in their life some comfort.
  • Lamarck Was Right: Karl's apparent understanding of evolution. For example, he thinks that if we hadn't invented the aeroplane, we would have evolved wings by now. Yeeeeah.
    • In Karl's world, seals are "between dogs and fish". He also doesn't understand how stick insects and leaf insects can look so much like sticks and leaves, believing them to literally be the offspring of insects and plants.
      Karl: At some point, something had it away with a leaf.
      Ricky: No! At no point did something have it away with a leaf!
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Karl's Rockbusters music quiz often resulted in this. The answers to his "cryptic" clues were often not the actual band name, but a pun that sounds vaguely like the band name, with the clue often requiring the listeners to really stretch their imagination to make it sound like the band name. Naturally, some of these made Ricky furious.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Ricky is a master of this trope when it comes to Karl's insane ramblings, which becomes particularly prominent over time during Karl's Monkey News. Ricky frequently foresees the incoming twist — granted, something which is not exactly hard given that it nearly always involves something previously suspected to be a human turning out to be a monkey — and repeatedly points out how ridiculous certain events would have to be to reach that conclusion in the hopes of making him see how absolutely unbelievable his stories are. Karl always ignores him, of course.
    Karl: (Telling a story about a gangster buying a racehorse, the jockey of which turns out to be a monkey) So anyway, this big race is coming up, and he's like, "I've got to be involved in this, because I can make a lot of money out of my horse here--"
    Ricky: Choose the jockey wisely, then.
    Karl: So he says to his, like, mate, "Look, I've got myself a horse and that, so we just need a jockey. Get someone to sort it out and what-have-you, so I can get in this race."
    Karl: So his mate's like, "Alright, I'll have a word and that, have a look 'round and that, see if there's anyone decent knocking about—"
    Ricky: (Cutting across Karl) The good thing about jockeys is that there's never going to be a shortage of jockeys, because a lot of them don't make the grade. There's always too many jockeys to go around.
    Ricky: Yeah! There's never a problem getting jockeys. (Turns back to Karl) Go on.
  • Last Note Hilarity: The Guide to the World Cup peters out as Karl forlornly lists all the diseases he had to have vaccinations against, Steve and Ricky plaintively repeat the "Come on England" chant, and at the last moment Karl says one of his shots is in case he's bitten by a dirty monkey. Cue the inevitable burst of laughter from Ricky.
  • The Last Of These Is Not Like The Others: Karl's list of movies with great stories: The Elephant Man, Kes, and Mission: Impossible II.
  • Life of the Party: Repeat contributor Paul "The Party Animal" Parker. Stephen and Ricky are convinced that it's an Informed Ability.
  • Literal Change of Heart: Played with when Karl mistakenly thinks it's possible to replace a heart with a pacemaker.
  • Literal-Minded: Most of Karl's misunderstandings and bizarre logical interpretations appear to stem from the fact that he is incredibly (and for Ricky and Steve, at least, infuriatingly at times) literal-minded and practical-minded, to the extent that he doesn't appear to understand basic analogies at all and tends to over-think even the most simple questions to the point where he's at times unable to answer them. For example, the phrase "throwing stones in glass houses" absolutely baffled him to the point where he was asking what kind of special people live in glass houses.
  • Lookalike Lovers: Karl's parents are drawn as looking exactly like him.
  • Lost Episode: The first 8 or so episodes from XFM Series 1 (2001- 2002), which featured Karl's first appearances, are missing from the XFM archives and are not in circulation anywhere. Likewise, apart from a few compilation tapes and two full episodes, most of the original 1998 series has vanished into the ether.
  • Ludd Was Right: Karl's stance on most new technology: for example, dismissing travelers who use sat-navs note  as "lazy." This does not go unchallenged by Steve and Ricky who imagine Karl giving a hard time to Columbus for using a compass or — a boat.
  • Made of Iron: Karl likes to think he is, at least. He occasionally brags to Ricky and Steve about his exceptionally high pain tolerance, as assessed by a single masseuse at a spa day. Given his constant moaning and the experiences listed under Near-Death Experience, they don't buy it.
  • Malaproper: Karl does these frequently. For example, he once said he did not want to be bungled with anyone else instead of bundled.
    • Several of these become Running Gags or in-jokes, like "foodage". Years later, Karl complained about iTunes: "They've increased the fuckerage."
    • Karl mentioned he once thought he looked like the alien from the 'Boswell alien incident.' It took almost 2 minutes of laughter to tell Karl it's Roswell, New Mexico.
    • Clive Warren!
  • Married to the Job: When Ricky and Steve attack him for not, as they see it, putting enough effort into the podcasts, Karl claims that "family is important" and that he doesn't want to end up as this as a result. Ricky and Steve then point out that this is all he has to do and that he doesn't even like his family or enjoy spending time with them anyway.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Played with. The animated series depicts Karl in a flowery apron doing the household tidying, while Susanne goes to work.
  • Missing Steps Plan: Some of Karl's feature ideas in the XFM days, since he seemed to make up a punny title and then try to create a feature around it.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Ricky and Stephen seem to be convinced Karl is at least bisexual, and will frequently make jokes about it to him. Not that he does much to defend himself, but you can tell he gets flustered when the subject comes up and will try to drop it as quickly as he can. Any time Karl mentions meeting an attractive male or a gay person, Ricky and Stephen will NOT let it go.
    • "I could eat a knob at night."
    • Karl put a suspicious amount of thought into the scenario where he's a World War II housewife/war widow.
    • When Karl talks about flipping through a gay magazine at the doctor's office, Ricky roleplays what would have happened if he had walked in on him. He also got sidetracked comparing the covers of gay and straight men's porno mags while hunting for a UFO magazine.
    • Karl has, on multiple occasions, admitted that his eyes are immediately drawn to another man's genitals if they're out and about, such as in a locker room. Even if women's genitals are also exposed, such as during the party stripping incident, when he immediately looked at the men instead.
    • Karl seems rather preoccupied with gay men's sexual habits, such as pondering what the previous owner of his apartment (who happened to be homosexual) was doing in front of his mirrored wall or if gay men would be admitted to try out a sex machine advertised for women.
  • Monkeys on a Typewriter: At one point in season 1, Karl refuses to believe that they can actually write anything.
  • Mood Whiplash: Season 3 opens with arguably the best episode the show's ever done, but shortly after the episode aired, Karl passed a kidney stone. The second episode is significantly more somber, but it does get better as they go on.
    • Karl's hilarious stories involving his brother tend to end with him mentioning him being in prison or not having seen him in years. As Ricky put it:
      "Karl's stories always start out nice and funny, and then they just leave me empty and slightly depressed."
  • Mood-Swinger: Steve and Ricky especially can wildly veer between helpless laughter and frothing rage as a result of Karl's anecdotes and personality.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: "Rockbusters" in Season 2 was an attempt to puzzle through Karl's unique logic to identify musicians by initials. Examples:
    • W. H.: She was walking through Texas, but she slipped into a puddle and got part of her leg wet. Wet Knee Houston = Whitney Houston
    • B.: "I don't want to live far from the water, I want to be right on top of it." Be On Sea = Beyoncé
    • C. D.: "If there was a Jamaican on the Titanic, he would have said this." "Christ, Da Burgh!" = Chris de Burgh
  • Ms. Fanservice: Karl's girlfriend, Suzanne is depicted in the cartoon as a curvaceous blond with a large, shapely ass.note  In season one there is a brief shot in episode 6 where she is wearing some very form-fitting jeans, in season three there's a nice background shot of her silhouetted in the shower.
    • And yet Karl somehow still finds a way to complain about this. And her "square head".
  • My New Gift Is Lame: Karl explains how he once gave Suzanne a Christmas gift of two industrial-size boxes of condoms (buy one, get one free). Upon being pressed, Karl admits that this was a "good year" for her. Ricky and Steve would routinely criticize Karl's "gifts" to Suzanne, since they were often gifts that he would also somehow benefit from, such as the condoms, or dinner/holidays that she would pay half for.
    • Poor gift-giving is a bit of a theme of the show. Karl blames his traditional lack of effort on the childhood experience of buying his mother (who's "into gnomes") a Victoria Plum figurine that she hated, and on the year he got a computer without enough memory to play any games, which caused him to throw up out of sheer anguish. He also claims that his Auntie Nora once gave him a t-shirt with her face on it, which is why he doesn't believe in the idea that when buying a gift, you should buy something a person wouldn't buy for themselves. Ricky is revealed to have bought his entire family scratch cards for Christmas and recalls the year he realized he was too old to just wrap things he'd found around the house to give to his older siblings. And the main attribute of Steve's father of which we're aware is his lack of gift-buying sensitivity: his birthday gifts to the adolescent Steve included "The Making of Thriller" and the collected wartime speeches of Winston Churchill ("Never forget, son"), and for his twentieth wedding anniversary, he passed over Steve's suggestion of a makeover/spa day and dinner for his wife in favor of a stainless-steel trowel ("Do you think I should've got it engraved?") and an industrial-size tin of coffee. Years later, Steve mentions that his father finally got his mother an appropriate Christmas gift — a gold bracelet — and then spent the entire day bragging to people about it.
  • Near-Death Experience: In the third season of podcasts, Karl tends to act as if the surgery to remove his kidney stones was one of these. Ricky tends to disagree and be less-than-impressed with his complaining on the subject as a result.
    • They once dedicated an entire segment of the radio show to Karl's stories about his "near-death experiences" as a kid. The first involved choking on a Mr. Freeze pop (which he credits with giving him a sense of a new lease on life, as a result of which he went to school for three whole days in a row); the second was a snowy day when his mother didn't think it was safe to go out, so he had to sneak out to do his paper route in time to get back and watch The Pink Panther (1963), and he got caught in an upstairs window and almost fell; and the third was during the martial-arts craze in the eighties when he tried to "kick his height," but froze at the apex of the kick to try to get his father's attention, lost his balance and hit his head on the ground. There was also the story about the time he ate too many cream cakes and had a bad stomachache. His mother called the doctor, who sarcastically said he didn't have long to live, which his mother believed until Karl's dad came home and phoned the doctor to check. Ricky tactfully suggests that in another family, they might have realized the doctor was joking.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In the animated "World Cup" episode, Karl is shown comforting an ersatz-David Beckham.
  • Non-Answer: When Karl is explaining his first film pitch.
    Karl: Why is that so weird when, that's what they do now. That's what they do now.
    Ricky: What is?
    Karl: That's what they do.
    Ricky: What?!
    Karl: They do that.
    Ricky & Steve: WHAT?!
  • Non-Indicative Name: When discussing nicknames, Karl mentions "Jimmy the Hat", a guy on his Estate who was famous for never wearing a hat. Ricky calls this out as a pointless nickname, since most people don't wear hats.
    • The 'Guide to the World Cup' begins with Karl trying to 'calm his gums down' and immediately degenerates into discussions about liver transplants, musical instruments being used in battle, Steve pretending to be Peter Crouch, Ricky using his talking iPad app, and Karl talking about getting done for swearing by his P.E. teacher. Needless to say the World Cup tournament barely gets a mention.
    • The name of the show itself. Ricky Gervais might be the host, but Karl is the main attraction, and both Ricky and Steve know this.
  • Oh, Crap!: Happens a few times when Karl realizes he said something he shouldn't have on the radio and Ricky points out Karl's sudden look of fear.
    • When Karl had a builder come to his house to work on the kitchen, the builder asked if the pub across the road was any good. Karl was rude with him and told him "That doesn't matter, you're here to do the kitchen." Ricky and Steve chastise Karl for this, since he was probably just asking about it for when his lunch break comes. They then point out that Karl has a radio in his kitchen that's tuned to XFM and that they might know it's him. Karl looks frightened and Ricky and Steve encourage the builder to steal from Karl and trash the place.
    • Karl once insulted Suzanne's haircut on air, saying she looked like Dave Hill from Slade. The following week, he talked about how she heard that and was upset, but then said she won't be listening this week and that they could chat about her fat ass. Ricky laughs and says Karl is going to be in so much trouble, to which Karl realizes that he just dug himself deeper. Sure enough, one of Suzanne's work colleagues heard him say that and told her.
  • The Olympics: One of the Monkey News segments in Season 1 claims a monkey pushed a bobsled in what would have been the 2002 Salt Lake City games.
    • One of the XFM Monkey News reports on a monkey that 'won' a gold medal at the 1908 Olympics.
  • One-Hour Work Week/The Producer Who Doesn't Do Anything: To hear Ricky and Steve tell it, Karl has a large amount of holidays and free time and does only the bare minimum required for his job. And he does that very reluctantly.
  • Organ Autonomy: Karl tends to talk about his body parts as if they are separate entities to him, including his brain, asking if the brain controls you or if you control the brain. Ricky compares Karl's understanding of human biology to The Numskulls.
  • Overly Long Gag: Ricky and Stephen, pretending to be studio executives listening to Karl's film pitch, keep interrupting him to ask their fictional secretary, Cheryl, to bring them refreshments. Karl actually gets annoyed with it.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: A lot of Karl's Monkey News stories involve people not realizing that these primates aren't human until the end, leading to Ricky constantly pointing out how unusual these hunched over, short hairy fellas with long arms are.
  • People Fall Off Chairs: Occasionally Ricky will fall out of his chair laughing.
  • Poe's Law: In the "Guide to Law and Order", Ricky reads off an online pastor's list of punishments for violating the Ten Commandments. It actually originates from The Landover Baptist Church, a Stealth Parody of fundamentalist Christianity.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Karl sums up the plot of Carrie as "She was upset for a bit, then she got over it," which kinda ignores that Carrie dies at the end.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Happened a few times, but the most notable is when Karl is talking about two monkeys who got 'married' during one of the Monkey News segments. Ricky's reaction when Karl finishes the story is mental.
    • Ricky has quite a short fuse for Karl's misunderstandings of science and history, such as in the discussion of the first chimps sent into space by NASA Ricky gets annoyed that Karl seems to think the chimps controlled parts of the spacecraft.
    • Karl's complete dismissal of the Monkeys on a Typewriter analogy to explain the nature of infinity, citing that monkeys are not intelligent enough to write Shakespeare (even though Karl's Monkey News stories, which he believes every word of, often give monkeys and apes intelligence on par with humans), causes Ricky to shout at him in genuine anger.
      Karl: I just don't think it'll happen.
      Ricky: What do you mean you don't think it'll happen!? Infinity works it out for you! By definition!
      Karl: Well what's stopping them typing the same thing again?
      Ricky: They would! In fact, the problem should be if you had an infinite amount of time that it would type the complete works of Shakespeare an infinite amount of times and everything else an infinite amount of times, but, y'know, that's just- that's not as-
      Karl: But not...not Shakespeare.
      Ricky: OH! SHUT UP, YOU IDIOT!
      Steve: Rick, do you know what he said to me? I said to him- I explained it to him, I said if you got an infinite amount of monkeys, infinite number of typewriters they will type the complete works of Shakespeare, he said "Have they read Shakespeare?"
      Ricky: (Laughs) You're an idiot! Play a record, cause I'm not having this conversation. I'm not having it cause it really really winds me up.
      Karl: But you're saying they'll do it with no spelling errors-
      Ricky: Well they'll do it an infinite number of times! And they'll do it wrong an infinite amount of times. And they'll spell the last full stop wrong an infinite amount of times. And they'll get one thing wrong in Hamlet wrong an infinite amount of times, they'll do everything an infinite amount of times!
      Karl: But are they going off a story that they've already-
      Karl: I'm just saying-
      Ricky: SHUT UP!
      Karl: Do they know the story?
      Ricky: Oh God, oh...
      Steve: They're monkeys!
  • Rapid-Fire Interrupting: Ricky to Karl during many times when Karl is expounding one of his theories. Steve often gets quite annoyed by Ricky for doing this (such as during many Monkey News bits and the 'Worry Hole' conversation) and tells him (in all seriousness) to "Shut Up!" and let Karl finish his thought.
  • Rasputinian Death: Karl's retelling of the titular monk's demise has him consume a load of poisoned cakes and then survived three gunshots before a forth finishes him off.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Many people accuse Karl of being 'a character, since no one can possibly be that weird in real life.' Ricky and Stephen have constantly denied this, stating that not only is Karl for real, but Ricky and Stephen hopelessly wished they could write something half as funny as what Karl says in all seriousness. And Stephen has said that if Karl was a character, Ricky and Stephen certainly wouldn't have wasted him on a podcast.
    • Ricky has more than once insisted a story Karl read or heard is untrue, only to receive wave after wave of e-mail confirming it as fact.
  • Really Gets Around: Karl's stories about his brother Mark certainly paint this picture.
    • When Karl was little, his brother let him ride his toy tractor in the house in exchange for keeping quiet about the party he was having, which involved a different girl in every bed of the house.
    • One of the reasons he was kicked out of the army, apart from going to the shops for cigarettes in a tank, was that he was sleeping with the sergeant's wife. Also, when he was stationed in Germany, he was told not to go out with German women because they don't like English army men, and that he'd get beaten up in a Honey Trap. With no evidence of this being true, it's likely he was just told this to prevent him from sleeping around.
    • Karl's parents apparently moved out of Manchester because they were sick of women coming around with kids they claimed were Mark's.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The very last e-mail Richard Anderson sent the show:
    Commiserations on not winning a Sony. I can't believe you didn't win. I mean, apart from your show's obvious lack of quality and effort; having a monkey for a producer; offering the biggest load of tat as competition prizes; saying 'Hairy Chinese Kid' 48 times every show; Rockbusters; not bothering to turn up for weeks on end; only having three listeners; introducing the comedy characters Camp David, Ho-Lee Fuk, Stephen Merchant; apart from insulting every race, religion, sexual orientation; bickering like schoolgirls; and despite the fact you genuinely bring misery into the lives of anyone who listens, I thought you were surefire winners. Better luck next year.
  • Recursive Reality: One of Karl's movie ideas involves a failed actor (in earlier versions a plumber, according to Ricky) called Bryan, who would be played by Ted Danson, who gets his mind put into the body of Tom Cruise when both are involved in serious accidents simultaneously, with Bryan going on to take Tom Cruise's place in a later Mission: Impossible sequel. Stephen is highly amused to point out that this would eventually result in a situation where Tom Cruise would be playing Ted Danson playing 'Bryan' playing Tom Cruise playing Ethan Hunt.
  • Refuge in Audacity: An inadvertent example, Stephen relates how he used to get out of talking to charity workers by pretending to be a foreign tourist who doesn't speak much English. He kept this up until one day, while attempting it, the worker asked him, "...are you Stephen Merchant?" He had momentarily forgotten he'd been on national television and become recognizable on the street, but rather than admit what he'd done, Steve carried on the now far less plausible lie. Apparently it worked.
  • Retraux: The Animated Adaptation, which uses a very Hanna-Barbera-esque style. Ricky supposedly emphasized that his animated self should look like Fred Flintstone.
  • The Scrooge: Steve, apparently. He went to Rio and stayed in a hostel.
    • Judging by his attitude toward things in An Idiot Abroad, this might have been part of his approach to travelling - preferring to stay in more low-key places and really see the place rather than an immaculate hotel.
    • Ricky and Karl frequently accuse Steve of being this, although Steve is quick to argue that he's actually just a lot more sensible about money than them. For instance, one of Ricky's accusations was that Steve preferred getting cheap sandwiches for lunch rather than going to a restaurant, to which Steve retorted that you only need a sandwich or something similar for lunch, and that Ricky just tended to overindulge when eating out. On another occasion, Karl accused Steve of being tight-fisted after Steve made a big deal about Karl not paying him back 50p that he was owed, which prompted Steve to point out that the actual problem was that Karl arbitrarily decided that he wasn't going to pay Steve back because it was such a small amount of money rather than letting Steve actually make the choice to waive the debt.
    • Stories of Karl's dad also make him this and arguably much worse than Steve. For example, he tried to haggle to get two pounds off a coat from a charity shop, nearly got Karl and Suzanne killed by cows while sneaking them into an event that cost only three pounds to get into, and has been shown to have no scruples when it comes to stealing.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Karl not only thinks that cyclopes were real creatures with "a disability", but repeatedly refers to a single cyclops as a "cyclop". Ricky also makes a sarcastic reference to Jason and the Argonauts being the only people scared of a "cyclop" - except neither Jason nor his Argonauts met any cyclopes on their travels.
  • Sci Fi Ghetto: Both Ricky and Steve hold The Lord of the Rings in absolute contempt, considering it "interminable" and declaring the fourteen-hour BBC radio play adaptation to be one of the worst prizes they've ever given away- and that's saying something, given the amount of times they bemoaned Karl giving out VH Ss of old Doctor Who serials.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: The main format of the show, it's just Ricky, Stephen and Karl musing about life in general, commenting on news stories or telling funny anecdotes. The intro to the show is, "For the past few years, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and Karl Pilkington have met on a regular basis for a series of pointless conversations. This is one of them".
  • Self-Deprecation: Steve finds his Rio adventure every bit as funny as the audience does. Ricky acknowledges his own weight gain and Big Eater tendencies.
    • Steve is also usually the first to make fun of his poor track record with women, as in an example where they discuss a newspaper article reporting that Steve was apparently a hit with the ladies in a nightclub until he started dancing:
    Steve: Right, I'll take issue with this, because firstly...
    Ricky: You wouldn't be attracting female attention in the first place.
    Steve: Rick, if I had been, I would have phoned the Daily Mail myself. Point A. I seem to distinctly remember talking to one of my mates the whole night and we were discussing the fact that we were too shy to talk to girls. So wrong there.
    • Steve and Ricky (although primarily the former) often make fun of the show itself. For example, when they were accused of creating Karl as a character and scripting the show, Steve's response was essentially "If I wrote this show, I'd be ashamed."
      • Even Karl made fun of the show's quality. In XFM series 2 episode 9, Ricky mentions that Karl was the only one coming up with new features and how he's the main reason people listen, so it might as well be called the Karl Pilkington Show. Cue Karl's response:
    Karl: I don't want my name to this. It's the Ricky Gervais show, yeah?
  • Separated by a Common Language: For the most part, the animated series is pretty good at catching or accounting for cultural differences between American and British English, but every once and again, the fact that it was made by Americans slips through.
    • When Karl is discussing having scampi for tea with Suzanne, the animators drew them eating spaghetti with shrimp and vegetables, which is what immediately leaps to mind whenever you say "scampi" to an American. In the UK, "scampi" refers to a very singular type of small lobster which is typically prepared very similar to shrimp, and often is substituted with shrimp. Given that they were having "scampi and chips", it's likely they were lightly fried in butter as an afternoon snack.
    • Ricky bemoans the awful state of reality TV by mentioning shows where people say, "look me fanny fell off!" In America, "fanny" means "butt", whereas in Britain, it means... rather more than just the butt. The animators drew the former scenario.
    • Whenever anyone (usually Karl) brings up "Munchies", they are invariably depicted as a snack mix, containing things like nacho chips, cheese puffs, and pretzels — which is what Munchies are in the United States. But in the United Kingdom, Munchies are a brand of chocolates with a caramel and biscuit center. Sometimes it's very obvious from context that the hosts are not talking about a snack mix; yet the animators seemingly never caught on. (Either that, or they wanted to stay consistent.)
    • An American phoned in on the XFM show to say that Ricky and Co. were a "shoe-in" for an upcoming award; cue Steve and Ricky asking what he meant since they'd never heard of the term.
  • Settling the Frontier: This was the premise for a hypothetical scenario that Ricky and Steve proposed to Karl where he was given the responsibility to select a group of people to be the world leaders of a newly colonised earth-like planet. Karl selected Patrick Moore (because he'd know the way), Jamie Oliver (to cook food), David Attenborough (to identify animals), and Paul Danan (to be a scapegoat so the others don't ask why Karl is with them), much to their bemusement.
  • Shave and a Haircut: Karl alledges the "shave and a haircut" part is broadcast into space in the hopes that aliens will respond with "two bits"; Ricky wonders if they'll move onto "oggy oggy oggy" or "knock knock".
  • Shout-Out: People are regularly compared to characters from The Simpsons for quick reference. Paul "The Party Animal" Parker is immediately assumed by Ricky to look like Milhouse, Karl describes a fellow hospital patient as Mr. Burns and Stephen believes Karl dressed as a clown would look like Krusty, among others.
    • While serving on a jury, the image of Karl being drawn by a newspaper illustrator (since photos of juries are not allowed) makes Steve think of Charlie Brown.
  • Sick Episode: For one episode of the radio show, Karl was out sick and Claire Sturgess filled in, as she usually does whenever he's on holiday. Ricky and Steve spend the majority of the show bemoaning that Karl is getting time off and believe he's faking it. They repeatedly attempt to call Karl and get him on the show, with Ricky threatening to give his phone number out on-air for people to annoy him. Near the end of the show, they finally get Karl to answer, who blames his illness on the fact that he put a pair of wet jeans on.
  • Sidetracked by the Analogy: Karl; for instance, he doesn't understand the "thousand monkeys on a thousand typewriters" probability theorem, because he imagines it's about monkeys trying to reproduce the works of Shakespeare and is convinced they would make mistakes.
    • Don't get Karl started on people living in glass houses.
    • Karl doesn't understand analogies at all. When outright asked for the definition of "analogy," he responded "A short story, told quickly." Apparently confusing it with the word "anecdote."
  • Signature Laugh: Ricky has a rather distinctive one.
  • Silly Song: During a discussion about Tic Tacs, Karl describes hearing a Tic Tac "ting-ing its way up the tube" while vacuuming, prompting Ricky and Steve to improvise a little song.
    Ricky: It's tinging its way up the tube!
    Both: It's tinging its way up the tube!
    Ricky: Ting, tong, ping, pong!
    Both: It's tinging its way up the tube! [laughter]
    Stephen: That sounds like something from Willy Wonka!
  • Sixth Ranger: Claire Sturgess, who appeared in a few episodes when Karl was either on holiday or ill.
  • Soapbox Sadie: In one episode, Steve describes seeing a young person on the Tube in London wearing a T-shirt that read "Fuck the Gap" in reference to the famous station announcements warning commuters to be aware of the gap between the train car and the platform. Steve is amused at the idea that someone is so full of outrage and hostility to the system and The Man that they feel the need to protest basic safety advice.
    Steve: Fuck looking both ways before I cross the street!
  • The Social Darwinist: Karl seems to have this sort of mindset, such as when he describes his Auntie Nora as "a weak person" who's been "allowed" to live longer than she should have. He also believes that irresponsible motorcyclists should not be made to wear crash helmets and should instead be allowed to kill themselves off because it will leave only responsible bikers who use common sense on the road.
    • This extends to his attitude towards zoology; he is convinced that were are too concerned with conservation, and believes animals must be "useful" to justify their existence. Not useful to an ecosystem, mind you, useful to him. Part of this seems to stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of "survival of the fittest".
  • Some of My Best Friends Are X: When Ricky questions if Karl's "Cheeky Freak of the Week" feature is in poor taste, Karl says it can't be since he works with Steve. Steve fires back by saying that since he works with Karl, he should be able to make fun of the mentally ill and/or mentally handicapped.
  • Sound-to-Screen Adaptation: The HBO show.
  • Special Guest: This is Subverted as Ricky and Karl were guests themselves on BBC Radio 5 Live with Richard Bacon (22/09/2011) while promoting series 2 of An Idiot Abroad (where Karl had to select things to do from a Bucket list) and they met and discussed with American actor Jessica Chastain (who is a fan of theirs and their show) an ongoing conversation about the definition of a bucket list note .
  • Spin-Off: An Idiot Abroad, a mock travelogue where Ricky and Steve send Karl around the world to see the seven wonders, and its sequel, where he does amazing and impressive things (that other people want to do, not him; but he gets to choose) to check off a bucket list.
  • Stealing from the Till: Karl admitted that as a kid he used to steal Mars bars from a newsagent he did the paper round for because a Mars bar was 45p and he was only paid 50p per day.
  • The Stoic: Karl. The most he changes facial expression is raised eyebrows. He practically always has the same blank facial expression.
    • It was a huge deal to Ricky that he actually made Karl laugh in a conversation animated for the television episode "Munchies". Ricky kept interrupting Karl, and finally Karl said, "You have to keep it-" "Erect!" and Karl finally gave in and started laughing as loud as the other two. Ricky even pointed out to the audience, "I made Karl LAUGH!"
    • He also laughed when Ricky accused him over the phone of not actually meeting gorillas like he said and just having the director in a monkey suit.
    • And Karl chuckled mildly when Monkey News included a chimp called 'Eighty Six', and Karl then introduced a Suede song as "One of Eighty-Sixes' favourites".
    • He can also become visibly annoyed when not allowed to make his point. One notable example is when he gets sick of Ricky and Steve making fun of his "problem hole" analogy to the extent that he folds his arms and pouts.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Whenever Karl's family is discussed, the animators draw them looking like Karl but wearing different outfits and hairstyles.
  • Stupid Crooks: Ricky is scammed out of a quarter-million pounds by a fraudulent bank transfer for purchasing gold. The crooks (needing to impersonate him) show up with a fake passport using a cutout of David Brent as the picture.
  • Super Gullible: Karl believes practically everything he reads on the internet, regardless of how illogical and impossible it might be. His Monkey News segments exemplify this, as some of them were sent in by fans, clearly making up stories because they knew Karl would believe them.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: While Ricky will usually challenge Karl aggressively on every single inane thing he says, Steve is often more willing to give Karl a pass or at least accept the (sort of) logic he's applying to the situation, if usually only out of some warped curiosity to see where Karl's going with it. This can lead to arguments between Ricky and Steve, with Steve usually coming to Karl's defense and yelling at Ricky to shut up and let him finish when Ricky tries to shout Karl down.
  • Take Our Word for It: Karl's descriptions of Suzanne is the prime example, especially as she is The Unseen to everybody (she wishes for her face not to be in the public domain and the fansites are respecting that wish).
  • Token Religious Teammate: Karl counts as a downplayed version of this. While he doesn't consider religion a big part of his life, he DOES believe in ghosts, Noah's Ark, an Afterlife, and many other supernatural concepts that Steve and Ricky (especially Ricky) consider ludicrous. a
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Steve's reaction to Karl's second film idea ("Bryan's Brain"). Karl's idea was that the studio would hype having a Tom Cruise lookalike in Mission Impossible 8, while Steve thought there'd be more tension of the studio coerced Bryan into maintaining the lie that Tom Cruise hadn't died in an on-set accident, à la the "Paul is dead" conspiracy.
    • Ricky and Steve (Rick particularly) often waste opportunities when Karl has comically misunderstood a minor detail in a story or anecdote to correct him and instead will patronize or mock him.
  • Troperiffic: Seriously, notice how many of these tropes are about Karl.
  • Twin Test: Inverted when Karl is asked what he would do if he had a doppelganger who looked, thought, and acted exactly like him. His response leaves Ricky flabbergasted.
    Karl Pilkington: How would I know which one I was?
  • Twin Threesome Fantasy: Karl doesn't understand it. Why would you want two of the same woman?
  • Undesirable Prize: A staple of the XFM shows, where the games and features that Karl devised featured mostly incredibly mediocre prizes, such as albums that no-one wanted or VHS copies of films that were already out on DVD or generally stuff that most people hadn't heard of (probably because they were so bad).
  • Unlucky Everydude: Steve. Karl once unwittingly touched a nerve with Steve regarding this. Steve was asking how Karl had met Suzanne as a friendly gesture. Somehow, Karl got offended and poked fun at Steve's status as a single guy. This prompted Steve to make a sarcastic remark on how he didn't want to be reminded of his loneliness on a comedy radio show. It's one of the few times that Steve is genuinely upset by what Karl said.
  • The Un-Twist: "Monkey News." Karl always tells the story as if it's a shock that the mysterious character is always a monkey. *gasp* Ricky and Steve mock and Lampshade this repeatedly. invoked
    • Some "Monkey News" bits do a have a genuine Twist Ending, like the Bank Robbery The robber wasn't a monkey, the monkey disarmed the robber and then ran off with the money and the Cycle Race "So this tricycle...".
  • Unusual Chapter Numbers: The "fourth" season was a series of holiday specials called the Podfather. When they returned to the traditional schedule, they just jumped to the fifth series.
    • Karl once bought a book that he believed was done this way intentionally, and got halfway through before he realized the pages were all out of order.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Karl once starts off a story by referring to the "bad wind" that hit America. It takes Ricky and Steve a few beats to puzzle out that he's talking about Hurricane Katrina.
  • Urban Legend: Relating to the Unusual Euphemism, Karl retells the UL about Killer Dolphins.
  • Verbal Tic: Karl says "and that" so frequently that in one episode, Steve started counting and turned "guess how many times Karl will say 'and that'" into a game.
  • The Vicar: On one of the Radio 2 specials, Karl complained about how vicars have a one day work week. Later, a vicar emailed in saying "When I'm tired of being a vicar, and 'working one day a week', maybe I'll become a DJ and do bugger-all all week!" Ricky and Steve are quite amused at the fact that Karl made a vicar swear.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: All three of them really. Especially on the XFM show where Karl gave as good as he got.
  • Wangst: Invoked In-universe — Ricky and Steve frequently accuse Karl of over-exaggerating both the effects of his kidney stones in the third season, and often generally call him out on being an all-round moaner and misery-guts. On one occasion, when a discussion about toenails leads to Karl moaning about having to carry things in general, such as bags:
    Steve: It's just an endless litany of stuff he doesn't want to do! I mean, carrying bags! Who the hell has a gripe about carrying bags?!
  • What Does She See in Him?: Karl has a long-term girlfriend, Suzanne, and Ricky and Steve are constantly wondering why she puts up with him. Karl claims it's because he helps her unwind and destress after her day at work. Ricky actually agrees that this makes sense.
  • What Were You Thinking?: Ricky echoes the viewers when he wonders aloud why film executives would ask Karl to pitch film ideas. Karl later muses that they might have done it as an excuse to go out and get lunch.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: After weeks of enduring verbal abuse from Ricky and Stephen, Karl finally snaps and kicks Stephen off his pub quiz team. The incident had a heart warmingly happy ending though: in the next episode, it is revealed that the trio has had a serious conversation about their friendship, and Karl allows Stephen back.
  • Who's on First?: During the Songs of Phrase answers for "My Auntie Had Wind For Five Minutes" Karl gives the answers for the words "for" and "five"; however, Steve thinks he means clues four and five and accuses Karl of getting his answers out of sync and therefore only giving six answers.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: Ricky and especially Steve repeatedly refer to XFM listeners as "stupid, stupid people" who "drink milk from a saucer" who are just as weird and mental as Karl.
  • Wild Card Excuse: "He's got a perfectly round head... and that's why I'm doing this podcast".
  • Wild Child: Karl states he was like this as a child, using a litterbox like a cat when younger. The animated series has a Flashback of him as a child running about naked, acting like an animal.
    • On the XFM show, Karl talked about a couple of stories he heard about kids who ran away from home, ended up living in the jungle with wolves or monkeys, and getting hairier as a result. Ricky needed to point out to Karl that living with animals does not make one grow lots of body hair.


Video Example(s):


Ricky Makes Karl Laugh

Ricky cracks a joke that manages to get even the usually stoney-faced Karl laughing. The result is absolutely heart-melting.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / WhenSheSmiles

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