Ricky Gervais says “smart people” aren’t offended by jokes

“I think people get offended when they mistake the subject of a joke with the actual target”

Ricky Gervais has explained why he tackles taboo subjects in his stand-up shows.

During an appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Tuesday (May 17) to promote his Netflix special SuperNature, Gervais discussed why he tackles topics such as “famine, AIDS, cancer, Hitler” in his shows.

“I deal with taboo subjects because I want to take the audience to a place it hasn’t been before,” Gervais said. “There is a tension.


“I think people get offended when they mistake the subject of a joke with the actual target and smart people know you can deal with anything. Particularly when you’re dealing with something like irony.”

The comedian said he explains the concept of irony as a joke at the start of his new show, “just to warn them and they get it”.

He added: “Humour gets us over bad stuff. That’s why I laugh about terrifying bad things. That’s why comedians are obsessed with death… it’s an inoculation to the real things that are going to happen.”

Gervais tackled the subject of death and grief in his Netflix series After Life, which concluded its third and final season earlier this year.


In a four-star review of After Life season three, NME wrote: “Gervais’ show is resolutely human. There is, after all, little as problematic as people. If you don’t like that, then the frivolity of Emily In Paris is just the click of a button away.

“Either way, it’s unlikely that Gervais especially cares. Like we say, they don’t make shows like After Life all that much anymore. And they don’t make them all that much like Gervais either.”