As I sat in my university halls, chuckling away, I never thought I would see this day. Back then, the only thing more worn out than my video of The Office series one was the quotes we would relentlessly repeat – some of which are still part of my vocabulary today.
Yet more than a decade on here he was – the Brentmeister General, the “brilliant singer-songwriter”, in the flesh and in Bristol.
For the thousands of Ricky Gervais addicts who had snapped up tickets for his one-off Colston Hall gig in less than five minutes, it must have been surreal.
Many, if not all, would have seen Gervais in stand-up before. But for his most famous, fictional, cult character to be taking centre stage was a real treat. And for the true purists, he didn’t disappoint.
Face adorned with rock ‘n’ roll shades and that trademark bitten bottom lip, Brent opened with Ooh La La and Life on The Road.
It was not until Slough – the “factually accurate” ode to Brent’s home – that those present truly started to get involved. It was one in the eye for poet Sir John Betjeman, who slated the town and got a tongue-lashing from Brent in The Office.
Lady Gypsy, the not-so-romantic tale of how he lost his virginity, got the most laughs, preceding two previously unfinished numbers from The Office, Spaceman Came Down and Paris Nights (Goodnight my Sweet Princess).
Then the gig took a more “multi-cultural” feel, as Brent was at pains to point out. He was joined on stage by rapper-cum-comedian-cum-self-confessed-geek Doc Brown, who had done a sterling job during his 20-minute set in the second warm-up slot.
Equality Street, Lonely Cowboy and Ain’t No Trouble provided sing-along moments from around the world, peppered with comedy.
Brent’s most famous “hit”, Freelove Freeway, was saved for the encore, before he ended with an unexpected festive treat.
Don’t Cry, It’s Christmas, a cruel but infectious lullaby for a dying orphan called Timmy, was performed as “snow” fell from the Colston Hall ceiling.
For avid fans of The Ricky Gervais Show podcasts it rang a familiar bell, but for the less well-informed it was an extra surprise and its first public outing.
For those after more comedy than music, there was just enough if you take into account the warm-up stand-up sets from Romesh Ranganathan and Doc Brown.
Yes, the time Brent and his band Foregone Conclusion were on stage was little more than 45 minutes.
But don’t forget, the album-worth of tracks Gervais has created have been penned around the umpteen other projects he has been working on, filming and promoting on both sides of The Atlantic.
Although it was a return to his first love, the music is only one avenue in his entertainment empire and should not be strolled down in isolation.
There will be some knockers, but Gervais won’t care. He did what he always does better than anyone – gave the fans Brent always aimed to please what they wanted.
Their joy may be encased in rose-tinted nostalgia, but who cares? They didn’t, I don’t. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a comedy hero.