David always had a sense of humor; remember that this is the man who wrote “The Laughing Gnome.” But for most of his career the image he chose to project was that of Serious Artiste, and it worked out very well for him.

In later years he started to let his inner imp out more, and in 2006 — shortly before disappearing from the public eye for the better part of a decade — he made a now-legendary appearance on Ricky Gervais’s HBO show Extras. I’ve seen it a thousand times but I never get tired of it. Bowie is fantastic of course, but you have to remember to watch Gervais putting on a brave face as he dies inside, publicly humiliated by his idol. For the connoisseur of the Comedy of Cruelty, it doesn’t get any better than this.