Ricky Gervais defends ‘offensive jokes’ after controversial dead baby quip

Emma Powell
Controversial: Ricky Gervais was criticised for one of his jokes: Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty

Ricky Gervais has defended “offensive jokes” after a grieving couple walked out of his gig over a controversial joke about a dead baby.

Suzi Gourley and her husband Ryan went to Gervais’ gig in Belfast on Tuesday for the first night out they had had since their son Eli was stillborn last July.

But they were stunned at the joke about a baby dying which was said as part of Gervais’ Humanity show. Mrs Gourley said: “I know people take things differently and I know our emotions are raw, but why joke about a baby being dead? It’s just wrong.

“Some people might read this and think we’re over sensitive and maybe we are - but it’s just not funny.”

Stand-up: Ricky Gervais on stage (Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Gervais, 55, defended himself on Twitter, writing: “’Is there any subject you shouldn't joke about?’ is no less ridiculous a question than ‘Is there any subject you shouldn't talk about?’

“Offence often occurs when people mistake the subject of a joke with the actual target. They're not always the same.”

Gervais said that a joke about a “bad” subject doesn't mean that it was supportive of that subject.

He continued: “Jokes about ‘bad things’ don't have to necessarily be pro those bad things. Surely, a joke that's anti bad things is a good thing, no?

“Basically, offence is about feelings, and feelings are personal. People simply don't like being reminded of bad things.

“All jokes should be banned in case anyone is offended. Discuss.”

He finished by adding a warning for anyone who has booked to see his stand-up, but fears they may get offended: “Warning: My stand up mentions AIDS, cancer, Paedophilia, famine, race, terrorism, rape, murder, drugs, death and even food allergies.”

Mrs Gourley said Gervais should “consider” his audience before making such jokes.

“I would tell him: ‘Please, please consider your audience’,” she told Belfast Live.

“Bereaved parents are one in four. There’s no way I was the only one sitting there last night that that it didn’t strike a nerve with.”

Gervais will play a string of dates across the UK as part of his Humanity tour.

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