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Ricky Gervais Defends His Transphobic Jokes: “That’s What Comedy Is For”

The comedian addresses the backlash he's received for his new Netflix special SuperNature

ricky gervais taboo jokes supernature netflix special interview transphobia
Ricky Gervais, photo via BBC
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    Ricky Gervais evidently hasn’t learned any lessons from Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle about behaving himself onstage. Despite the backlash he’s received for the blatant transphobia in his new Netflix special SuperNature, the Office (UK) star defended his decision to crack jokes about “taboo subjects,” saying he thinks “that’s what comedy is for.”

    “I think that’s what comedy is for, really — to get us through stuff,” Gervais said during a recent appearance on BBC’s The One Show. “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 offense comes from when people mistake the subject of a joke with the actual target.”

    Following SuperNature‘s release, LGBTQ+ organization GLAAD took to Twitter to share their frustration: “It’s full of graphic, dangerous, anti-trans rants masquerading as jokes,” they wrote, arguing that Gervais “also spouts anti-gay rhetoric and spreads inaccurate information about HIV.”

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    Gervais went on: “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.”

    For some context: Near the beginning of SuperNature, Gervais not only mocks transgender people, but he also brings sexual assault into the mix: “I love the new women,” he says. “The ones with beards and cocks. They’re as good as gold, I love them. And now the old-fashioned ones say, ‘Oh, they want to use our toilets.’ ‘Why shouldn’t they use your toilets?’ ‘For ladies!’ ‘They are ladies — look at their pronouns! What about this person isn’t a lady?’ ‘Well, his penis.’ ‘Her penis, you fucking bigot!’ ‘What if he rapes me?’ ‘What if she rapes you, you fucking TERF whore?’”

    At the end of SuperNature, however, Gervais does offer a half-assed attempt to soften the blow: “In real life, of course I support trans rights. I support all human rights, and trans rights are human rights. Live your best life. Use your preferred pronouns. Be the gender that you feel you are. But meet me halfway, ladies. Lose the cock. That’s all I’m saying.” Watch the clip from The One Show below.

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    Gervais isn’t the only funnyman to come under fire for trying to poke fun at transgender people recently. Just earlier this month, Chappelle’s stand-up set at Netflix Is a Joke fest was interrupted when an audience member tackled him onstage; the assailant later said he was “triggered” by Chappelle’s jokes about the LGBTQ+ community.

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