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Joe Lycett Shares His Take On ‘Disappointing’ Ricky Gervais

Joe Lycett Shares His Take On ‘Disappointing’ Ricky Gervais

Joe Lycett has spoken out about some of the controversy surrounding fellow comedian Ricky Gervais’ recent material.

Last week, Joe was a guest on the News Agents podcast, where the comic and occasional social commentator shared his take on the state of comedy in 2024.

“Somebody literally said to me a few months ago, ‘it must be so hard being a comedian, don’t you miss being racist and homophobic?’,” he began.

“Those were the actual words. And I was like, ‘funnily enough, I don’t miss that, weirdly’. I think it’s just that we’ve got more interesting as an industry, and started doing more interesting things.”

As the conversation continued, the After Life creator’s name was mentioned, after his most recent Netflix special was met with a backlash due to comments about the trans community and its inclusion of ableist slurs.

Joe insisted he would “never say that Gervais shouldn’t do what he does”, noting he can “say whatever he wants” in “a free society”.

Ricky Gervais
Ricky Gervais

Mike Marsland via Getty Images

“What I think is perhaps disappointing about Gervais and the people like him, that are doing this sort of, ‘I just say it how it is’, this sort of… I mean, the last show he did, the real tragedy for me was that it was comedically weak,” Joe continued.

“It wasn’t strong… if you removed the Gervais-ness of it and you just gave it to a new stand-up, they would struggle in a club with the material he had.”

The former Great British Sewing Bee host noted: “The thing about Gervais and people like him who are doing material which is attacking trans people, and is attacking ‘wokeness’, however they see it, is that they are very skilled – Gervais has done amazing work, and what a waste of that skill to attack minorities, that’s how I feel about it.

“I’m not going to say he shouldn’t do it, do whatever he wants, I don’t want to get involved in his creative process, but I would much prefer to see him use that skill and that wit to attack people who possibly need to be attacked, more than the trans community.”

Towards the end of last year, Ricky dismissed some of the criticisms levelled at his latest comedy special, remarking: “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 previously claimed: “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.”

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