Ricky Gervais thinks ''getting fat and old and ugly'' has helped his comedy.

The 57-year-old comic didn't find fame until his late 30s and is glad he didn't as he would have been ''awful'' and had nothing to talk about if he'd started his stand-up career in his 20s.

He said: ''No, I wasn't [doing it in my 20s]. God, I would have been awful. I didn't know anything. I can't think what I would have talked about.

''Before I could do it, I had to learn to relate. Getting fat and old and ugly helped with that.

''I don't know if you've heard of Simon Amstell. He's a British comedian. He once said something about young, handsome people doing comedy, like, 'People are already looking at you; why do you need this?' ''

The 'After Life' creator is a prolific Twitter user and admitted he finds the microblogging website very useful when it comes to finding inspiration for new material.

He explained in an interview with the New York Times newspaper: ''If I'm doing a warm-up show and I'm about five minutes short of material, I'll search Twitter for provocative things.

''You find those dark corners. That's a good thing about Twitter: I used to have to meet these maniacs, like Agent Clarice Starling meeting Hannibal Lecter. Now I can find the dregs from the safety of my Hampstead mansion.

''I can see a cross section of society a thousand times faster than I could've otherwise. I've got 13 million followers. That's the world, really. I'll tweet, 'What's a subject you should never joke about?' Some people fall for the trap and say something like, 'Psoriasis'. Then I can come up with 10 minutes on that.''