Ricky Gervais Reacts To Controversy Surrounding 1 Part Of His New Netflix Special

The comedian's latest offering for Netflix is released on Christmas Day – and has already come under fire.
Ricky Gervais pictured on stage during his Armageddon special
Ricky Gervais pictured on stage during his Armageddon special

Ricky Gervais has spoken out about the controversy surrounding his new Netflix comedy special.

The divisive comic is about to unveil his third recorded stand-up special for the streaming platform, Armageddon, which is released on Christmas Day.

However, while the special isn’t actually streaming yet, it’s already come under fire over an ableist slur featured in one part of Ricky’s routine.

In a preview video that was posted online ahead of the release, the After Life creator jokes about having recorded video messages for terminally ill children via the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“I always start the video the same way,” he tells the audience. “I go, ‘why didn’t you wish to get better?’ What, are you fucking r*****ed as well?”

The clip quickly sparked a widespread backlash over Ricky’s use of the slur, with the disability equality charity Scope publicly calling out the comedian.

Asked about the criticism, Ricky told BBC Radio 5 Live: “In the actual skit, I say ’I’ve been doing a lot of video messages lately for terminally ill children. Only if they request it. I don’t burst into hospitals and say, ‘wake up baldy’. I’m literally saying in the joke that I don’t do that. But people have a reaction.

“They don’t analyse it. They feel something – that’s what offence is. It’s a feeling. That’s why ‘I’m offended’ is quite meaningless. What do you want me to change?”

Referring to a petition that has already accrued thousands of signatories calling for Netflix to remove the joke from the special, Ricky responded: “Good luck. That’s what I say to them. Good luck. I’ll even retweet it.”

“Ninety-nine percent of it is faux offence,” he said, speaking more generally about past criticisms of his comedy. “They’re not really offended. They just want to be heard. I’ll explain ‘no, you’ve mistaken the subject of the joke with the actual target’.

“Of all the millions of people that watched it and loved it, only a few don’t like it. If I give them special attention and try and placate them, I’ve annoyed the other millions of people that got the joke. They go ‘no, you’ve ruined it for us!’ So, I’ve got a duty to the people that like it and get it.

“I wouldn’t sit down with a heckler, would I? If I’m playing to twenty thousand people, I wouldn’t stop the show and explain to them. I ignore them.”

Ricky Gervais at the National Television Awards in 2022
Ricky Gervais at the National Television Awards in 2022
Gareth Cattermole via Getty Images

He added: “Particularly with irony and satire, I’m often playing a character. But some people get confused and think that a joke is a window to the comedian’s true soul. It’s just not true. It’s a joke.

“No one does this with puns, do they? Two blokes didn’t really walk into a pub.”

Last year, Ricky was met with yet another backlash over his second Netflix special SuperNature, over jokes made about the transgender community during his set.

Defending his jokes, Ricky later said: “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. Most offence comes from when people mistake the subject of a joke with the actual target.”

He added: “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.”


What's Hot