Ricky Gervais: "When haven't I been kind?"

Writer/comedian Ricky Gervais on the "CBS This Morning" set
CBS News

(CBS News) Ricky Gervais grabbed headlines in 2010 when he hosted the Golden Globe Awards and made fun of most of its attendees. He was criticized by some for being too mean-spirited because of the barbs he aimed at celebrities.

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When he visited the "CBS This Morning" studio to discuss his new HBO series, "The Ricky Gervais Show," Gayle King asked him about his reputation for speaking his mind.

"When haven't I been kind?" Gervais said. "You mean I teased some of the most privileged billionaires in the world? Some films they may have made? If it was room full of wounded soldiers then, I think that, yeah, guilty."

Gervais said he thinks comedy is a medicine - a healing process that can help people get through difficult times and understand things better.

"I think that's what it's for, in an evolutionary sense," he said. "So, you know, if you've got a good sense of humor, you're bullet-proof, I think."

Who does Gervais get his comic inspiration from?

"Laurel and Hardy," he said. "I love them because they're precarious, fall down for my pleasure, get up, dust themselves off. They set pretty much every template for modern comedy."

Gervais' newest project is an animated series based on the random conversations he has with Steven Merchant (who co-wrote and co-directed the original British "The Office") and Karl Pilkington (who began as the program's producer). The topics of discussion range from religion to science, and nature to mind/body problems.

He said he's "slightly obsessed" with co-star Pilkington, whom TV viewers will recognize at the "idiot" in Gervais' other show, "An Idiot Abroad."

"He's my best friend. Part pet, part chimp," he said.

Despite his acerbic wit, Gervais said kindness is one of the most important things.

"I think it's everything," he said. "I think it's -- I'm an atheist, but I think that's all you need is kindness. Just do unto others as you do unto yourself. It's done."

(Watch the full interview with Ricky Gervais in the video player above.)