Amid Backlash, Gervais Defends 'Taboo' Jokes

Comedy helps 'get us through stuff,' he says after criticism of trans jokes in Netflix special
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2022 12:00 PM CDT
Ricky Gervais Defends 'Taboo' Trans Jokes
Ricky Gervais is drawing a lot of backlash.   (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – Ricky Gervais is making no apologies amid a backlash over trans jokes in his new Netflix special. But he tells the BBC that the point of comedy is to help people deal with dicey topics. "I think that's what comedy is for, really—to get us through stuff," he tells The One Show. "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." Gervais insists he's not anti-trans. However, his critics are piling on after he reeled off a series of jokes about trans people just four minutes into his SuperNature special.

"We watched the Ricky Gervais 'comedy' special on Netflix so you don’t have to," begins a tweet from the advocacy group GLAAD. "It’s full of graphic, dangerous, anti-trans rants masquerading as jokes. He also spouts anti-gay rhetoric & spreads inaccurate information about HIV." In his BBC interview, Gervais says he ran into similar criticism over his dark comedy After Life. People can handle what he's dishing, he says. "Real life is much worse. These are just jokes. They don't mean anything. They're just for you to laugh for an hour or so. So that's why I deal in taboo subjects." (Read more Ricky Gervais stories.)

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