Stephen Merchant steps out from the shadow of Ricky Gervais to star in his own HBO comedy, Hello Ladies (Sunday, 11:30 p.m., HBO). And it's as uncomfortably funny as you might expect.Merchant has been a writer, producer and sometimes actor in "The Office," "Extras," "The Ricky Gervais Show" and "Life's Too Short" - and there is a definite echo of those shows in "Hello Ladies."Merchant stars as Stuart, an obliviously geeky British Web designer who's sort of a warped optimist. He doesn't have any actual luck with the ladies, but he's living in Los Angeles so he genuinely believes there's a chance he might end up hooking up with a movie star.This is unbelievably unlikely, given that he's a giant dweeb who is pretty much entirely lacking in social skills. The word "pathetic" comes to mind.If you like this kind of stuff, "Hello Ladies" will make you laugh. It will also make you squirm.