Earlier this year I was approached to work on a project Sam Harris was making with Ricky Gervais. It was a big surprise and a huge privilege.
On the back of the mini-episodes Sam had been releasing on his podcast with Ricky, dissecting philosophical quandaries and cracking wise, I was told they were keen to develop something bigger together: A limited audiobook series, downloadable as one binge-worthy show named Absolutely Mental.
After a few rounds of development and refinement, we arrived at the visual style above. I’m really happy with where we landed. The creative director was brilliant to work with and did a lot of the final refinement work on the design and implementation.
As a long-time fan of both Ricky’s and Sam’s, I couldn’t think of a job I’ve been more excited about. (Ok, the Larry David commission was close, but this beats it.)
I used to listen to Ricky on XFM back in the early 2000s when he and Stephen Merchant first met their perfectly round-headed producer, Karl Pilkington. I’ve since been a huge fan of everything Ricky has made since; from his series The Office, Extras, An Idiot Abroad, Life’s Too Short, Derek and After Life, to his stand-up shows Animals, Politics, Fame, Science, Humanity and of course my favourite, HBO’s Talking Funny. I’m excited to see his new show SuperNature when he goes on tour this summer.
Sam Harris’ Making Sense podcast is the only podcast I subscribe to. There are so many podcasts available now (my own included) that it has just become too overwhelming to keep up. I did a big podcast audit during the pandemic and found Sam’s to be the most valuable. I attended his live conversation with Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman in New York a few years back to soak up the live version of his conversation; it was awesome.
I feel like pairing two of the world’s most vocal and articulate atheists and masterful conversationalists is the perfect recipe for a show.
Ricky holds the Guinness World Record for the most downloaded podcast ever. With the combination of Ricky’s enormous worldwide podcast audience and Sam Harris’ epic, varied worldwide podcast and app audience, this show has the potential to explode into the record books.
Sam is the perfect straight man to Ricky’s clown, a Martin & Lewis combo that just …works.
Is there a self?
Would you rather die or live on as a brain in a jar?
Will chimps evolve into humans?
Will computers eventually get depressed and throw themselves off a desk?
Is morality innate?
What are dreams for?
What noise does a monster make?
When does a baby start thinking?
Why do you think we fear death?
…These are just some of the topics they discuss — episodes are about 30–40 minutes each. The series releases today worldwide. You can purchase the whole thing for one payment of $14.99 at absolutelymental.com