Comedian Ricky Gervais has a new show on Netflix called, “After Life,” in which the main character, played by Gervais, decides to begin telling the absolute truth and living without fear of consequence rather than committing suicide following the death of his beloved wife.
In a podcast interview with The Economist, Gervais explains why the subject of truth telling (which he’s examined before) is so important to him.
“With this new thing of, you have to agree with everything someone ever believed in or they’re canceled, ya know? It’s ludicrous,” Gervais said. “Most recently, John Wayne was canceled for a slightly un-PC interview he did 48 years ago. So he had to try and think what people in 48 years will think of his views…All I can promise is you won’t like everything I say, but I’m going to keep saying it.”
In other parts of the interview, Gervais talks about why he refused to be silenced following his now infamous turns as host of The Golden Globes, where he managed to upset Mel Gibson, Robert Downey Jr., and Caitlyn Jenner. He said, simply, that free speech is a privilege and it’s incumbent upon people who know that to push back when they see the speech police at work.
And as for free speech in comedy, Gervais notes that modern audiences seem to conflate the subject of a joke with the target of the joke, which leads to the almost constant offense people take today for jokes that are milder than some stand up routines of the past. And, what’s more, this umbrage is defeating the purpose of comedy.
“Humor is to get us over the bad stuff,” Gervais says.