Stand-up comic Frankie Boyle has challenged comics like Ricky Gervais who rely on cheap transphobia in place of jokes.
Boyle, who is far from a stranger to offensive comedy, has suggested the former Office star’s over-reliance on gags about trans people is “very lazy”.
In lieu of telling funny jokes in his 2018 Netflix special Humanity, Gervais opted to dedicate a 15-minute segment to repeating Caitlyn Jenner’s birth name over and over for laughs, before likening trans people to himself “self-identifying as a chimpanzee” – reheating the same tired gag that right-wing comics have leaned on for the best part of a decade.
Gervais has repeatedly doubled down over the issue since, and appeared to align himself with ‘gender critical’ activists on Twitter in 2019 with a rant in which he suggested trans equality would “erode” the rights of women.
Frankie Boyle: ‘Ricky Gervais is not a stand-up comedian’
Boyle picked on Gervais’ chimpanzee diatribe in his own recent TV special Excited for You to See and Hate This, quipping: “My genuine reaction was, it’s not that much weirder than Ricky Gervais saying that he’s a stand-up comedian.
“I mean, look, we know Ricky Gervais, he’s a brilliant actor, he’s a brilliant writer, he’s not a f**king stand-up comedian! Just ‘cos Ricky Gervais self-identifies as a stand-up comedian, am I supposed to say that he is one? It’s f**king political correctness gone mad!”
Asked about the comments this week in an interview with documentary maker Louis Theroux, Boyle elaborated: “[He’s not a stand-up], he sort of went into that after The Office. So if you’re a stand-up watching him, you feel like, oh, this is someone doing a version of this thing we do.
“Really, it’s more that I saw his routine about trans people, and I thought it was very lazy.”
Noting that Gervais is a vocal supporter of animal rights charity PETA, Boyle added: “I would like him to have the same respect for trans people that he seems to have for animals. I think that’s not a lot to ask.”
He joked: “Going on about loving animals? Suspect.”
Frankie Boyle says controversies about ‘cancel culture’ are misrepresented
In the interview for podcast series Grounded with Louis Theroux, Boyle also challenged narratives about “cancel culture” in comedy and reflected on his changing views about punching-down styles of comedy.
He said: “I don’t feel culture is too woke. I don’t feel comedy is too woke, I think a lot of that pressure comes from the right, and a lot of it comes from the mass media, largely as a way of generating column inches.”
Noting TV shows with blackface being removed from streaming services, Boyle said: “I think part of the difficulty is we lump all of this stuff together. Some if it has some kind of justification, and some of it is obviously just things that shouldn’t happen.”
Referring to satirical cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, he added: “As I’ve got older, I now think, we have think about the effects there.
“When you hear people laughing about that subject, you’re going to get an instinctive reaction of, ‘This is an attack on me.’ A lot of Muslim people are pretty heavily oppressed in Western countries, and when you see things like us discussing whether it’s OK to draw Mohammed, you don’t think, ‘Well there’s two guys really interested in these intellectual issues,’ you think, ‘Well, there’s just that thing again.'”
He added: “I think a lot of people that talk about free speech on the far-right aren’t really interested in it. No one talks about the Reich like that, do they? ‘Say what you like about Reich, but you could say what you wanted!'”