Ricky Gervais is an atheist, stand up comedian, and actor. He made a pretty funny film with an interesting premise called The Invention of Lying that I reviewed favorably back in 2010. More recently, though, he has joined with those comedians who are ticked off with audiences who do not find humor aimed at marginalized groups to be funny. They claim that they are being silenced for their edgy humor by those who can’t take a joke.
He has a new stand up comedy show Humanity on Netflix that I started watching. After a fairly funny opening bit about dogs, he goes into a routine complaining about the sensitivity of audiences and how he got complaints after his hosting of the Golden Globes award show a few years back. He then went on a riff that he must have thought was clever. He said that before he hosted that show, his partner said she hoped he would not say anything that would upset people too much. He said that he tried to get her riled up by pretending to her that he was going to tell some jokes that he knew would offend. He then told the audience the jokes that he said he had told her, even though he had decided they should not be told.
He then said that he had got grief from the transgender community because during the show he had told a joke about Caitlyn Jenner and had mentioned her former name, something that is known as ‘dead naming’. He said that he had not heard the term before or that it was considered not appropriate. He then said that there must have been a time when Jenner was known by his former name and he imagined a conversation that Jenner might have had with her then doctor and used that conversation device to have the doctor, in every sentence, call Jenner by her former name because that would have been what she was called then. He kept reminding the audience that he was not calling Jenner by her former name but that the doctor at that time would have had to have used it
While doing this unfunny routine, he was smirking at the audience. It was clear that he was preening about his own cleverness, that he was telling offensive jokes and dead naming Jenner under the guise of merely describing jokes that he said were offensive and that he would not tell. It is like children using racial slurs while pretending that what they are doing is talking about racial slurs and how bad they are. It is what children might think of a clever escape hatch.
It was utterly insufferable and after a few minutes of listening to this tedious routine, I turned him off.
Which raises the question: What is the matter with these comedians? The world is an infinite source of material that one can make fun of. Are they so bereft of imagination that they cannot find humor in all the other areas of life that they have to target marginalized groups? Are they such delicate flowers that any criticism of any of their humor makes them want to get their own back in such a childish way?