Chris O'Dowd says people are 'more sensitive' to offensive comedy now 'for good reason'

·Contributor
·3-min read
Chris O'Dowd believes it's a good thing that comedy is changing to become more sensitive. (David M. Benett/Getty Images)
Chris O'Dowd believes it's a good thing that comedy is changing to become more sensitive. (David M. Benett/Getty Images)

Chris O'Dowd said audiences and creators are "more sensitive" to offensive comedy now — but that's a good thing.

The 42-year-old actor and comedian told Metro that people have "been too insensitive" in the past with comedy and that the approach is now being corrected.

Famous comic voices, including John Cleese, have spoken out against "cancel culture", with the Monty Python star set to front a documentary series about the phenomenon.

Read more: Ricky Gervais sets "cancel culture" comments about The Office were a joke

O'Dowd said: "I think people are definitely more sensitive to controversy than they have been, for good reason.

"We’ve probably been too insensitive before. This is, I suppose, for us to be mindful of each other, that’s what you have to do."

Watch: Dan Aykroyd wants hurtful comedy to be criticised

O'Dowd made his comments in relation to renewed debate around a particular episode of Channel 4 sitcom The IT Crowd — in which he played tech support worker Roy — aired in 2008 and pulled from the broadcaster's streaming service in 2020.

In the episode, entitled The Speech, Matt Berry's character is shown in a relationship with his dream woman, only to become disgusted when he learns she is transgender.

Read more: Rowan Atkinson compares cancel culture to "medieval mob"

O'Dowd added: "You have to remember before streamers and everything, it felt like you made something, people watched it and then it went away. 

"It was much more of a disposable culture in terms of the output on TV, and not only does it go away, it’s for one region. Now you make a show and it goes around the world."

Chris O'Dowd (right) starred alongside Richard Ayoade and Katherine Parkinson in 'The IT Crowd'. (Channel 4)
Chris O'Dowd (right) starred alongside Richard Ayoade and Katherine Parkinson in 'The IT Crowd'. (Channel 4)

Berry himself recently spoke about the episode in an interview with Vulture, calling it a "ridiculous and dated" piece of television.

He added that "I don’t share any views that the writer has", in reference to the anti-trans opinions of The IT Crowd creator Graham Linehan.

Read more: Jimmy Carr says he has already told joke that will end his career

Linehan was banned from Twitter in 2020 as a result of what the social network called "repeated violations of our rules against hateful conduct and platform manipulation".

He vowed never to work with Channel 4 again, unless the IT Crowd episode was reinstated on its streaming service.

Chris O'Dowd as IT support worker Roy in 'The IT Crowd'. (Channel 4)
Chris O'Dowd as IT support worker Roy in 'The IT Crowd'. (Channel 4)

O'Dowd said he still has fond memories of The IT Crowd, and particularly the staying power of his character's catchphrase: "Have you tried turning it off and on again?"

Despite the final episode of the show airing way back in 2013, O'Dowd cannot escape reminders of the famous one-liner.

Read more: Netflix removes offensive scene from Peep Show

He said: "I love all the memes and the stuff, every time Facebook goes down and suddenly there are memes about Roy going around again. 

"It was fun making that show, so it feels nice that’s still circulating in the maelstrom."

Watch: Melissa McCarthy and Chris O'Dowd on The Starling

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