"In any other town I'd wonder if this was a little camp?" said Gervais gesturing to his plastic crown, royal cape and the giant illuminated RICKY sign blazing behind him.

Swigging from a can of Fosters, which he occasionally rested on a six-foot golden statue of an Emmy award beside him, the reigning king of comedy seemed remarkably relaxed.

Informally dressed in black T-shirt and jeans, Gervais' style of delivery was more pub banter than relentless one liners, making us feel like mates on a night out, rather than a room full of strangers.

Although his rise to fame has been through the globally worshipped TV series The Office and Extras, he was totally at home live on stage, his supreme confidence dissolving even the smallest trace of nervous sweat from his brow.

Flirting dangerously with bad taste, he made us laugh uncomfortably at stories about teenage cancer, autism and ME.

Tackling obesity, he asked why fat people find everything tasty except salad but with trademark self-mockery criticised tabloids for calling him a "chubby funster"

and printing a photo of him jogging with the headline "I-Podge".

Following previous shows about Animals and Politics, his current sell-out tour takes a sarcastic swipe at the fickle world of Fame.

With faux irony, Gervais gave us advice on becoming famous suggesting, "Just kill some prostitutes," then adding, "I won't be telling that one in Ipswich".

He also reflected on celebrity myths linking Richard Gere with tunnelling hamsters and Marc Almond with explosive sailors but most disturbing was the dirt he dished on a vicious argument between Sharon Osbourne and Chris Tarrant.

Previous reviews indicate the show is tightly scripted and varies little from venue to venue yet Gervais presented each funny observation as though it had just struck him like a flash of comic genius, making the show edgy, refreshing and truly funny throughout.

A natural stand-up with impeccable timing and a total command of sarcasm, Gervais left us crying with laughter with a rare performance of "that dance".

  • Ricky Gervais returns to the Brighton Centre on March 26. Call 0870 900 9100.