Gervais’s new Netflix special has been met with condemnation online over a series of jokes targeting the trans community.
Viewers have described the star’s show, SuperNature, as “toxic” and “transphobic” following its release on Tuesday (24 May). Read quotes from the show here.
As fans and critics discuss SuperNature, many have shared a clip from Acaster’s set in which he mocks Gervais for his tendancy to defend “free speech” and hit out at so-called “cancel culture”.
One viral tweet in the aftermath of the show’s release stated: “Nothing to say about Ricky Gervais that James Acaster hasn’t already said.”
The user @ruth_walshe shared a clip from Acaster’s 2019 Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999 tour, in which the comedian takes aim at comics who spend large chunks of their sets “slagging off transgender people”.
In the footage, he can be heard saying: “They say whatever they like, edgy comedians. No one tells them what they can and can’t say. They walk straight on stage, top of their specials sometimes, and do 10 solid minutes just slagging off transgender people.
“People on the internet get upset about it… the comedian’s always like, ‘Bad luck, that’s my job, I’m a stand-up comedian, I’m there to challenge people. If you don’t like being challenged, don’t watch my show. What’s the matter guys, too challenging for you?’”
— ruth (@ruth_walshe) May 24, 2022
Acaster continues: “Yeah, cause you know who’s been long overdue a challenge? The trans community. They’ve had their guard down for too long, if you ask me. They’ll all be checking their privilege on the way home, thanks to you, you brave little cis boy.
“I used to name one of the comedians that was about, in that routine, but it always got really awkward in the room because apparently it’s 2019 most people are still more than happy to laugh at trans people but they’re not comfortable laughing at Ricky Gervais yet. That’s the line.”
The Independent has contacted Gervais’s representative for comment.
In a two-star review for The Independent, Nick Hilton wrote of SuperNature: “As is all too frequent these days, the longest riff is reserved for the humiliation of trans people. ‘Full disclosure,’ [Gervais] reveals towards the end of the show, ‘in real life, of course I support trans rights.’
“At this point there are a few stray cheers from the naïve few in the audience who think the irony is real, but that’s nothing compared to the roar of laughter and applause when the punchline – a crass joke about gender affirmation surgery – arrives.”
Last week, Gervais discussed why he believes people find his jokes offensive.
“People get offended when they mistake the subject of the joke with the actual target and smart people know you can deal with anything, particularly when dealing with something like irony,” The Office creator told Stephen Colbert.
Netflix has previously faced criticism for its decision to run content described by critics as transphobic, most notably in the case of comedian Dave Chappelle.
Chappelle’s specials for the streaming service were also criticised for jokes targeting trans people. Netflix employees staged a walkout last year in protest, with the employee who first criticised the company eventually resigning over the incident.