Ricky Gervais defends “taboo” jokes following backlash to Netflix special

He said comedy is for “getting us over taboo subjects so they’re not scary any more”

Ricky Gervais has defended making jokes about “taboo subjects” following the backlash to his Netflix special SuperNature.

The comedian has faced criticism over “transphobic” jokes in the special that was released on Tuesday (May 24), with LGBT rights organisation GLAAD describing the show as “full of graphic, dangerous, anti-trans rants masquerading as jokes”.

Speaking on BBC’s The One Show following SuperNature’s release, Gervais echoed his comments from a recent appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.


“I think that’s what comedy is for, really – to get us through stuff, 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 said.

“Most offence comes from when people mistake the subject of a joke with the actual target.”

Speaking about the audience’s reaction when hearing a controversial joke, Gervais added: “It starts and they go, what’s he going to say? I tell the joke. Phew, they laugh.

“It’s like a parachute jump – it’s scary, but then you land and it’s all OK.

“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.”


At the end of the Netflix special, Gervais provides some context to the controversial jokes, saying: “Full disclosure: 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.”

Last year, Dave Chappelle faced criticism over jokes that were deemed “transphobic” in his Netflix special The Closer. Some Netflix employees staged a virtual walkout in protest over his comments.

Netflix boss Ted Sarandos initially defended Chappelle, though later admitted he “screwed up” in his response to the situation.

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