Ricky Gervais Defends 'Taboo' Comedy Following Backlash Over 'Dangerous' Jokes About Trans People In Netflix Special

·4 min read

Ricky Gervais has attempted to defend his style of comedy after he faced a backlash over jokes he makes about the trans community in his new Netflix special

The After Life creator’s newest show SuperNature began streaming earlier this week, and was quickly condemned over the material in his stand-up set, which also includes jokes about AIDS and female comedians.

SuperNature opens with Gervais telling the audience that his jokes are intended to be “ironic”.

He then goes on to refer to cisgender women as “old-fashioned women… the ones with wombs, those fucking dinosaurs”, before making disparaging comments about trans women.

The set then includes an imagined conversation between a cis woman objecting to sharing a toilet with trans women, including a joke about rape.

Ricky Gervais (Photo: Vera Anderson via Getty Images)
Ricky Gervais (Photo: Vera Anderson via Getty Images)

Ricky Gervais (Photo: Vera Anderson via Getty Images)

During an appearance on The One Show, the comic defended making jokes about “taboo subjects”.

“I think that’s what comedy is for, really - to get us through stuff, and I deal in taboo subjects because I want to take the audience to a place it hasn’t been before, even for a split second,” he said.

“Most offence comes from when people mistake the subject of a joke with the actual target.”

He continued: “It starts and they go, what’s he going to say? I tell the joke. Phew, they laugh.

“It’s like a parachute jump - it’s scary, but then you land and it’s all OK.

“I think that’s what comedy is for - getting us over taboo subjects so they’re not scary any more. So I deal with everything. And I think we second guess the audience too much.”

However, US LGBT rights group Glaad labelled the show “dangerous”, “anti-gay” and “anti trans” after its release on Tuesday.

“We watched the Ricky Gervais ‘comedy’ special on Netflix so you don’t have to,” they said. “It’s full of graphic, dangerous, anti-trans rants masquerading as jokes. He also spouts anti-gay rhetoric and spreads inaccurate information about HIV.

“Netflix has a policy that content ‘designed to incite hate or violence’ is not allowed on their platform, but we all know that anti-LGBTQ content does exactly that. While Netflix is home to some groundbreaking LGBTQ shows, it refuses to enforce its own policy in comedy.

“The LGBTQ community and our allies have made it very clear that so-called comedians who spew hate in place of humor, and the media companies who give them a platform, will be held accountable. Meanwhile, there are PLENTY of funny LGBTQ comedians to support.”

Gervais’ remarks have also been heavily criticised on social media, including by many comedians on Twitter.

Many also took the opportunity to repost an old set from British comic James Acaster, lampooning established comedians for taking aim at the trans community.

Netflix previously came under fire over comments featured in Dave Chappelle’s stand-up special towards the end of last year.

During his show The Closer, he argued that “gender is a fact” and said he was “team TERF”, an acronym for trans-exclutionary radical feminist.

HuffPost UK has contacted representatives for Ricky Gervais and Netflix for comment.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.


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