Ricky Gervais fury: How After Life star blasted ‘virtue signallers’ in heated PC rant
Mr Gervais hit out at “virtue signalling” opposition to some comedy in an interview with GQ as he released the first series of his hit-show ‘After Life last year’. When asked by Editor-In-Chief of GQ Dylan Jones why he enjoys the “big issues”, Mr Gervais says he can’t “justify every joke” and claims offence usually comes when people think they are a target of a joke. He said: “I discuss Aids, famine and the Holocaust. I can’t say it enough: it’s a slippery slope to second-guess people and water things down.
“I want to be able to justify everything I do. I’m not one of these comedians that says, ‘Oh, comedy is your conscience. Take a day off.’
“My conscience doesn’t take a day off. I can justify every joke I’ve ever done. As I’ve often said, I think there’s a difference between not caring about offending and being willing to explain why you don’t think people should be offended.
“I want to be able to justify every joke and I think it comes by making sure that the target is fair. I think most offence comes when people mistake the subject of a joke with the actual target.”
Mr Jones claimed that if you make a joke that offends just one person, it can be dismissed as “invalid” or even lead to mass criticism.
Mr Gervais referenced celebrities such as Kevin Hart and John Wayne – claiming that society no longer allows high profile figures a chance to redeem themselves after mistakes in the public eye.
He accused critics in this instance of “virtue signalling”.
The comedian added: “The problem is I try to make my jokes bulletproof for now, but the real problem is we’ve got to start making them bulletproof for ten years’ time, because we’ve seen John Wayne getting cancelled 40 years after his death for something he said 48 years ago, when, you know, he wasn’t ‘woke’ enough.
“What can we do about it? He’s dead. Why are you doing this? Well, you’re virtue signalling.
“At some point we’ve got to say, ‘Well, he’s not like that any more.’”
The writer of After Life went on to defend freedom of speech, saying it is “important for human rights”.
He said, despite being a “champagne lefty”, he gets criticism online for defending free speech, and has even been dubbed “alt right”.
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Mr Gervais continued: “I think freedom of speech is so important for human rights.
“I did a tweet recently where I said, “I’m your typical old-fashioned, lefty Champagne socialist, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-sexist type of snowflake.
“But if I ever stand up for freedom of speech, I’m suddenly alt-right.”
On whether the ‘After Life’ – a show about a grieving husband whose wife has died of cancer – is too dark for some people, Mr Gervais said he aims to satisfy himself with his writing first.
He added: “It’s not that I’m confident – or I think everything I do will be accepted and lauded.
“Because I can’t second guess anyone, all you can do is please yourself.”
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