Ricky Gervais Finds Himself in the Midst of Fresh Controversy

The British comedian responds to the petition calling for the removal of a joke from his upcoming Netflix special "Armageddon"
Ricky Gervais Armageddon

The British comedian responds to the petition calling for the removal of a joke from his upcoming Netflix special Armageddon

In a recent uproar, Ricky Gervais has clapped back at detractors of his new special’s material, which notably includes calling young cancer patients “baldy” and using a derogatory term for disabilities. He dismisses the criticism in an interview, labeling the offended as mere “hecklers” putting on an act of being upset.

Armageddon, the latest work from the Emmy and BAFTA laureate, set to debut on Christmas Day, offers a glimpse into his satirical narrative on his engagements with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He shares his irreverent method of interacting with young cancer patients who have sought him out.

His words, “I’ve been doing video messages recently for terminally ill children — and only if they request it, obviously. I didn’t burst into hospitals and go, ‘Wake up, baldy!’ Watch me twerking on TikTok,” reveal a darkly comedic side. He praises the foundation’s work but then sharply veers into a controversial joke, swiftly assuring it’s all in jest and that he’s never used the R-word outside the realm of his comedy.

Drawing parallels between his craft and the art of acting, Gervais argues that just as one wouldn’t accuse Sir Anthony Hopkins of being a cannibal for his role in “Silence of the Lambs,” he too is merely donning a persona for his performances.

Amid the release of his contentious show, Gervais preemptively issued a warning via Twitter, advising potential viewers of the wide array of provocative topics tackled in his special and suggesting those easily offended might want to pass.

Despite his warning, a clip from the show released three weeks prior has ignited a storm of controversy, culminating in a petition with over 12,000 signatures calling for Netflix to ax the offending segment. The petition, initiated by a distressed parent of a child battling cancer, vehemently criticizes Gervais’s insensitivity and demands action.

In a conversation on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Headliners podcast, Gervais reflects on the nature of offense, suggesting it’s more of an emotional reaction than a rational one. He notes the amplified outcry that often accompanies content once it migrates from a live audience to a broader platform like Netflix, where nuances and context may be lost.

Yet, Gervais remains steadfast, asserting that while individuals are entitled to their feelings, it won’t deter him from pursuing his passion for comedy. He delves into the philosophy of humor, arguing that a joke is not an admission of personal belief but rather an act of playfulness and artistic expression.

In closing, Gervais addresses the inherent diversity of what offends people and the futility of trying to please everyone. He stands firm in his conviction that he can justify any joke he makes, signaling a desire to move beyond the need for constant explanation and to embrace the freedom of comedic expression.

Ricky Gervais: Armageddon will be released on December 25, 2023, which was Christmas Day, on Netflix


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Ricky Gervais Armageddon

Ricky Gervais: Armageddon (2023) | Transcript

Ricky Gervais: Armageddon is packed with Gervais’ signature brand of sharp, often controversial humor, tackling topics like artificial intelligence, political correctness, family weddings, funerals, and, as the title suggests, the end of humanity.

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