Educating Ricky

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Educating Ricky was a feature introduced by Karl in Series 2 in which he attempted to teach Ricky some interesting bits of trivia. Typically, Karl would have three nuggets of information to offer, and would give each one a "teaser" headline that usually involved an overwrought pun. Though the conceit of the feature was to inform Ricky and Steve, often times the two would have to clarify or completely refute what Karl told them.

In several of the lessons, Karl relates a dubious etymology of a popular phrase. Many of these questionable etymologies appear on a webpage called "What's The Meaning of This?[1]," which could have been a source of Karl's research.

The title of the feature is a pun on the British film Educating Rita.


Below is a complete list of Karl's lessons:

12 October 2002

  • Hanging Bacon: Years ago, wealthy people would hang bacon in their kitchen. When guests came over, they would stand around and chat while eating it. This is the origin of the phrase "chewing the fat."
  • Hairy Chinese Kid: A story that lives on in RSK infamy.
  • Alien Gives Man A Beard: An American man goes missing and, when he reappears three days later, has a bushy beard and claims to have been abducted by aliens.

19 October 2002

26 October 2002

  • Stocking, Aitken & Waterman: In the 40's, people would put socks in gramophones to lower the volume, giving birth to the expression 'put a sock in it'.
  • It's Not His Volt: An electrical man was walking about in the 70's. (Bonus fact: Electric eels have 400 volts in them.)
  • Get A Lobe Of This: A deaf woman is pushed against a wall and is suddenly able to hear. (Bonus fact: Bees are deaf.)

02 November 2002

  • Don't Worry About Him, He Candle It: The phrase 'burning the candle at both ends' originated when, "years ago", workers would light their candle at both ends of the day.
  • I'm Kermit-ted To This Treatment: Doctors used to put toads in people's mouths during examinations, a practice that gave us the phrase 'frog in the throat'.
  • The Police Are Causing A Bit of A Stare: Police once arrested a man under suspicion that he was drunk, but in fact his glazed expression was the result of a glass eye.

09 November 2002

  • We'll Have A Big Fire To-marrow: In ancient times (probably during the Black Plague), the bodies of the deceased would be piled and burned to help stop the spread of disease. This is the derivation of the word 'bonfire' ("bone fire").
  • He's A Bit of A Noose-ance: In medieval times, when a particularly unpopular person was hanged, the hangman would keep the rope that he used and cut it into pieces to sell to the townspeople. The phrase 'money for old rope' refers to this practice.
  • I'll Ba-con In The Morning If You're Sick Of Having Me Here: The expression 'cold shoulder' originated when people used to give unwanted guests cold pieces of meat to convince them to leave.

16 November 2002

  • Bonus Fact: A man loses an arm whilst "messing about with a chainsaw." A doctor gives him a new arm that eventually starts to grow down to the floor.
  • Albino Buying One of Them: Ages ago, when elephants were widely used, inexperienced people would buy an Albino elephant, which is lazy and useless. The would be unable to get rid of the elephant though as they were sacred. Origin of the phrase "you bought a white elephant" [2]
  • Hippopota-nuse: A circus midget is swallowed whole by a hippo that was "waiting to do its act."[3]
  • Chi-cken You Believe It?: In 1945, a farmer cut off a chicken's head but it continued to live. He then charged people to come and see it [4].

23 November 2002

  • Is The Tip Included?: Some Turkish restaurants also perform circumcisions.
  • I Wouldn't Have Come Here In Heinz-sight: A Kenyan boy got a bean stuck in his ear. He went to a doctor to have it removed, but his dad couldn't pay for the treatment so the doctor put the bean back in the ear.
  • Armour Gonna Have To Thump Ya?: The expression "shut your face" originated in medieval times. When a knight wanted another knight to be quiet, he would tell him to close his visor.

30 November 2002

  • Get Your Kitten, We're Off Down The Butchers: The phrase "don't let the cat out of the bag" refers to 19th century butchers who would stuff cats into bags of meat to make the bags seem heavier than they were. (A listener later emailed in contesting that the phrase actually referred to the 'Cat O' Nine Tails' in the navy)
  • Wash Up With You?: A report on how various nations performed in a dish washing survey.
  • Why Don't They Just Get A Diary or Some Paper or Something?: A machine has been developed that can give people tattoos.

07 December 2002

  • Don't Rub It Too Hard, You'll Get A Rasher: The phrase "hamming it up" comes from the days when people would rub pork products on their face in lieu of makeup.
  • Enough Is Anus: A palm reader started to read the arses of people who were ashamed of their nails.
  • Wool It Like A Bloke or a Woman?: Scientists have discovered that gay rams have differently structured brains than heterosexuals ones.

21 December 2002

  • Oh, What A Cat-toe-strophe!: A woman has a cat with 28 toes.
  • Well, You'd Think It'd Be Bug-head, Wouldn't Ya?: If you attach a headless cockroach to a legless cockroach, the legless one can control the headless one.

05 July 2003

  • People are leavin' rubbish on Mount Everest an' that, and whoever owns it just said "forget it" and left it up there.
  • Mount Everest is called that because it feels like you need to 'ave a rest when you get to the top.
  • There's a thing you can do in Detroit where when you're dead (well, when you're alive but ill) you get put in a fridge.

(This instalment of Educating Ricky was poorly structured and is often not listed when discussing the segment.)

02 August 2003

  • Gallileo did a bunch of stuff that nobody cared about, he should have invented a telly.
  • A 67-year-old fella in France said women shouldn't wear trousers an' that because they never look good in them do they.
  • Leggings are bad and the woman who had a pet horse wore them and also had really big eyelids.

(This instalment of Educating Ricky was poorly structured and is often not listed when discussing the segment.)

10 January 2004

  • Well, That Nelly Died: An elephant had some dentures built for it by local villagers.
  • Well, Nob-Body Has Been That Lucky Before: A baby boy was born without a knob. The doctor then immediately found another newborn baby on the same ward born with two knobs and surgically transplanted one onto the other boy.
  • Get a Lobe of This Court Case: A jury announced that they found a defendant guilty. The judge misheard this as "not guilty" and acquitted him. The court was therefore unable to reverse his decision.

17 January 2004

  • Is That Import-ant?: An anteater can stick its tongue in and out 160 times in a minute.
  • Werther's a Will, There's a Way: They've brought out summat that means an 80 year old woman can have a kid.
  • Hook, Line, and Good Thinkers: They're making loads of fish with two heads.


A slightly altered version of the feature made a brief and quite unsuccessful re-appearance in the second series of The Ricky Gervais Show podcast. Referred to by Ricky as "Karl Educates Ricky and Steve", it involved Karl teaching Ricky and Steve about Sigmund Freud. The main differences were that Ricky and Steve told Karl in advance what they wanted to learn of and also Karl's total lack of interest in the subject matter(it was completely different to the topics Karl himself would choose). Karl only looked up some quotes about Freud which he roughly paraphrased and as a result sounded nothing like one of Freud's teachings.