Ricky Gervais Slammed For 'Dangerous' Jokes About Transgender People In Netflix Special

The streaming giant was previously met with a backlash over comments made by Dave Chappelle in his comedy special.
Ricky Gervais on stage during his new comedy show SuperNature
Ricky Gervais on stage during his new comedy show SuperNature

Ricky Gervais has been heavily criticised over jokes about transgender people in his latest Netflix stand-up special.

The After Life creator’s newest show SuperNature began streaming earlier this week, and was quickly condemned over jokes about the trans community featured throughout his set.

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

“That’s when I say something I don’t really mean, for comic effect, and you, as an audience, you laugh at the wrong thing because you know what the right thing is,” he explains. “It’s a way of satirising attitudes.”

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 at the NTAs in 2020
Ricky Gervais at the NTAs in 2020
Dave J Hogan via Getty Images

Later in his show, Gervais also discusses developments in the treatment of HIV, commenting: “That’s not as good as it was, AIDS… in its heyday, it was fucking amazing, wasn’t it, AIDS?”

Gervais’ show has already been condemned by the leading US LGBTQ organisation GLAAD, who have said that jokes like those featured in SuperNature are “dangerous”.

“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.

After Chappelle’s special sparked protests and even walk-outs from staff members, Netflix made an update to its corporate culture guidelines, which now includes a section stating that employees may “need to work on titles you perceive to be harmful”, urging them “Netflix may not be the best place for you” if they disagree with this.

The streaming giant’s chief executive Ted Sarandos also defended Chappelle, insisting that The Closer did not “cross the line on hate”.

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

Help and support:

  • The Gender Trust supports anyone affected by gender identity | 01527 894 838
  • Mermaids offers information, support, friendship and shared experiences for young people with gender identity issues | 0208 1234819
  • LGBT Youth Scotland is the largest youth and community-based organisation for LGBT people in Scotland. Text 07786 202 370
  • Gires provides information for trans people, their families and professionals who care for them | 01372 801554
  • Depend provides support, advice and information for anyone who knows, or is related to, a transsexual person in the UK

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