Ricky Gervais has had his share of controversies, primarily because of his dark comedy, which a lot of people found offensive and insensitive. Through his latest special on Netflix titled Ricky Gervais: Armageddon, the performer seeks to answer all those who get offended by his words and his dark humor, and he also explains to his viewers why he always unabashedly does what he wants, even when he knows that it might land him in trouble.
The first very interesting point that Gervais made is that he noticed that over a period of time, the meaning of many specific words changed, and it was because of that reason that he fell into trouble so many times and that people perceived him as an insensitive and offensive person. It was hilarious when he pointed out that he just cannot keep up to date with the constantly changing meaning of words like “woke, fascist, and handicap.” He told the audience that there was a time when you could call a person handicapped, and it was not considered disrespectful, but if he does that now, people will call him insensitive.
Talking about why he felt that humanity was doomed and why his Netflix special was titled Armageddon, Ricky told his audience that the day he found out that “Flower Arranging” was a course taught in educational institutions, he knew that the end of the human race was near. I won’t deny that Ricky’s jokes have the potential to trigger somebody, but one has to listen to him with an open mind and try to understand his motive and why he said things in the way that he did. I say that because, between the lines, he took a dig at India, and it was hard for me to not get offended by it. Chinese people were Ricky’s new target throughout the show, and he made sure that he held up the stereotypes and made jokes around them at the cost of offending people.
It felt like this time, Ricky Gervais was in a mood to touch upon every controversial topic just to check how much his audience and the viewers could take. There were times he realized that maybe he went a bit further than what the audience could take, but then he said that the people could choose not to agree with him, but to tell him not to speak his mind was also not right. Ricky talked about cultural appropriation and how, at times, he felt that the entire concept was so absurd. Throughout his performance, Ricky pointed out how, in our quest to spread awareness about racial prejudice and discrimination, we have lost our way, and somewhere, we have become the vice that we had waged a war against. He pointed out how illogical everything looked from his perspective, which was why he couldn’t help but have a humorous take on it.
You can’t help but relate to his perspective when he talked about a website named “Does the Dog Die” and then used it as a yardstick to show how fragile we have become as a society and how we get irked at the smallest of things. The website is meant to give trigger warnings, where you can choose a film and ask if it has any specific kinds of triggers that you wouldn’t want to watch. Now Ricky said that he found it hilarious when somebody asked if there were any animals harmed on Schindler’s List. I believe Ricky never wanted to disregard any sentiment, but he wanted to show how times have changed and that earlier generations could have never imagined that people in the future would get triggered or offended by something that was the least of their concerns.
The best punch of his entire performance was when he told the audience to imagine the conversation God would have had when he was creating humans. He said that it is so interesting that when God made humans, he made sure that they had the best minds and could use them to their advantage to survive on planet Earth. Ricky said that it amused him how humans have survived wars and famines but how they are so scared of words these days. He said that, in his opinion, one has to make fun of dark things because that is how you get through them. He said that, unlike what a lot of critics thought of him, he always believed that he was a woke person. He said that if being awake means that he cannot give his honest opinions, then he couldn’t be that.
It hit hard when Ricky Gervais said that, strangely, humans consume the meat of all birds apart from parrots, and he speculated that it was possibly because the parrot was the only bird that could speak. He said that, at times, speaking up helps, and one must not stop themselves from expressing their views. I personally liked the fact that the entire performance was aimed at making the people understand how important it is to accept that no two people can be alike and they are bound to have different or conflicting views, and that does not mean that for one to be right, the other has to be wrong. The best thing was that Ricky Gervais was thoroughly enjoying his performance, and even when the jokes didn’t land the way he would have intended to, he made sure that they didn’t break his rhythm. Ricky knew that he was playing in risky territory, and one could very easily misunderstand his motives and get offended, but still, he made sure that he kept his point without compromising on his beliefs. At the end of Armageddon, Ricky appealed to his audience that in a world where egos have become so fragile, people get irked by the smallest of things, and words are misconstrued on a daily basis, one must not take everything so seriously and have fun while they are at it.