Ricky Gervais is back from a seven-year holiday in blazing style with his new show: Humanity. Sadly for the seeding comedian, that title is far too ironic for comfort.
In strong style, Gervais’ opening segment contains much dry but all-round humour. His imagining of dogs being handed out jobs (and the Rhodesian Ridgeback’s shock in being assigned to lion hunting) is a great piece of comedy. It has the ability to merge several styles of humour into a joke capable of engaging most people.
From there however, he delves into what is effectively a tirade. Gervais decides that humanity is all about feelings, and that hurting people’s feelings is something akin to sport. With such a bullish mentality, one would have thought that he would be able to maintain his thick skin when the attacks are directed his way. Sadly, the majority of the show proves exactly the opposite. His petty gripes with virtually anonymous Tweeters and easy target groups have obviously affected him enough that he feels the need to moan about these spats to an audience.
A particularly long rant is devoted to the public outcry following his transphobia during the 2016 Golden Globes. During this, he attempted to make a joke about Caitlyn Jenner “not doing much for women drivers”. This was set up by referring to the transgender reality star by her old male name. This is an act known as “deadnaming”, and is seen as highly disrespectful to trans people.
Somehow, he managed to dig into a deeper hole in Humanity. Immediately following his apology for deadnaming Jenner, he continues to (repeatedly) use her previous name and referring to her as “he”.
But I had to say her old name, because that gets me into the joke.
Gervais in Humanity, explaining how he could not target Jenner any other way.
During this sketch he envisions male-to-female genital reassignment, describing it as “Your c*ck and balls ripped off and a hole gouged out”. Sadly this is as medically incorrect as it usually is coming from a man obsessed with his own penis yet still insisting he is straight. Diving deeper into his pit of humour-masked ignorance, the comedian played the joke to himself, likening gender transition to species transition. More specifically, he appears to compare trans people to chimpanzees. He even requested we call him Bobo the Chimp, which may or may not happen.
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Sadly, Gervais seems to either be unaware or uncaring that jokes like this put real people in danger. It’s obvious to everyone watching that this sketch is mere vitriol, designed to stir up the “gender-warriors” of the internet. In fact, all it does is highlight the limits of the comedian: if it wasn’t for his platform he’d just be another person commonly referred to online as a “troll”.
After the 2018 Golden Globes (hosted this time by Seth Myers) Gervais was asked during an interview with The Late Show if he was wearing all black in solidarity with the #metoo movement that swept the ceremony this year. In response he scoffed. “No, ’cause it’s slimming. That’s all it is.”
Ricky Gervais has become almost a British Trumpian icon. His self-victimising righteousness, Twitter sparring and attacks on women and minorities show this. He is not afraid to brag about his wealth, nor ashamed of the privilege that comes with it.
It keeps popping up! ‘He’s out of touch, he’s so famous, he’s rich…’ I am!
Gervais, in Humanity.
Claiming to speak for equality yet driving against anything outside his bubble for the sake of a mere titter is the essence of someone who should have retired with dignity years ago. With fortune, Humanity shall soon get the last laugh.