Ricky Gervais: Elon Musk defends comedian over controversial new Netflix special

Elon Musk has waded in on the debate around Ricky Gervaisnew stand-up special.

Last week, The Office creator released his new special SuperNature, which faced criticism for jokes targeting transgender people. It was then condemned as “dangerous, anti-trans rants masquerading as jokes” by LGBTQ+ advocacy organisation GLAAD.

On Sunday, The Atlantic staff writer Conor Friedersdorf tweeted a screenshot from review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes highlighting the disparity between SuperNature’s critic and audience scores. The special has a 14 per cent overall rating with critics, but 92 per cent with audiences.

“The decoupling of critic and audience scores for standup specials is a thing to behold,” Friedersdorf tweeted.

Replying to the tweet, Tesla CEO Musk wrote: “The ‘critics’ seek not to critique, but rather to virtue signal. They are out of touch with the people and so lose their credibility with the people.”

In his two-star review of SuperNature forThe Independent, critic Nick Hilton wrote: “As is all too frequent these days, the longest riff is reserved for the humiliation of trans people. ‘Full disclosure,’ [Gervais] reveals towards the end of the show, ‘in real life, of course I support trans rights.’

“At this point there are a few stray cheers from the naïve few in the audience who think the irony is real, but that’s nothing compared to the roar of laughter and applause when the punchline – a crass joke about gender affirmation surgery – arrives.”

Gervais recently defended his use of “taboo” jokes while appearing on The One Show to promote his special.

“I think that’s what comedy is for really, to get us through stuff and ideally taboo subjects, because I want to take the audience to a place it hasn’t been before, even for a split second,” he said.

“It’s like a parachute jump. It’s scary, but then you land and it’s all OK. And I think that’s what comedy is for, getting us over taboo subjects. They’re not scary anymore. So I deal with everything.”

In the wake of the release of SuperNature, a clip resurfaced online from stand up James Acaster’s 2019 special Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999, in which he takes aim at comics who spend large chunks of their sets “slagging off transgender people”.

“I used to name one of the comedians that was about, in that routine, but it always got really awkward in the room because apparently in 2019 most people are still more than happy to laugh at trans people but they’re not comfortable laughing at Ricky Gervais yet. That’s the line,” he quips.

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