Comedian Ricky Gervais opened up in an honest and philosophical interview promoting his tour of 120 cities called “Humanity” in the United States. He’s also launching his “Deadly Sirius” show on SiriusXM Tuesday, with longform interviews with everyone from philosophers to musicians to political commentators.
“You know that thing about how comedy is tragedy plus time?” he told The Daily Beast. “That doesn’t stop you from thinking of the joke during the tragedy.”
It’s Gervais’ first stand-up tour in seven years and he admitted he knew the world seems to be in the “epicenter of the storm” but he’s already thinking about how we’ll ultimately be laughing about this one day “and we won’t be dead.”
His goal of the tour is to expose the audience’s’ own prejudices and privileges. He’s been quick to slam President Donald Trump over the last year, yet the tour won’t focus on politics or news. Instead, he talks about famine, AIDS, cancer and Hitler.
“I let them know that the fact that they think I’m rich and famous is nothing compared to the fact that I’m going to die first,” he said. “You can never be above the audience. You can never lecture the audience. I think that’s one reason Trump got elected. People were tired of being lectured by authoritarian liberals.”
He thinks the politically correct culture created the problem.
“Why was there the rise of the alt-right? Why were there Nazis suddenly?” he asked. “Why were people believing the most opulent billionaire on the planet when he said the problem was the liberal elite in Hollywood? I’m thinking, why are they falling for this? Why are they falling for drain the swamp? He is the swamp. Why are they falling for build the wall? We should be building bridges. I thought how could I joke about this? How could I spoof this man? The guy off The Apprentice is now the president. It’s like a joke out of a ‘90s movie.”
Gervais said that the fallout from Harvey Weinstein and how man like him perpetuated the cycle of complacency by not coming forward. He brought up Mel Gibson’s use of the phrase “sugar t*ts” when speaking to a police officer. In the video, Gibson then turns to his ex to tell her that she deserves to be raped. He noted it hasn’t even been a decade since it happened. He’s knocked Gibson during the Golden Globes in the past, with shocked gasps from the audience. He said that it illustrates the hypocrisy of the film industry.
“Am I surprised about the hypocrisy of Hollywood? No,” he said. “Some people make mistakes and they’re not bringing home the money, and some people make mistakes and they are bringing home the money. They’re more quickly forgiven.”
The first time Gervais did the Golden Globes he said that he could feel the audience wondering “Why is he saying awful things about these exceedingly rich, handsome, privileged people?” He told The Beast that he wanted to tell them to “get a grip,” in part, because he see’s a comedian’s job as the boy in the crowd pointing at the king and telling him he’s naked. He wanted to make it a spectator sport.
People say that there are always things you can’t say or shouldn’t joke about, but Gervais said that as long as it is accurate and fair, no subject should be off limits. Hollywood is no different than the presidency or banks selling gold. He did admit that he waited a bit before going after Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitism.
“I did that the next time. It was gentle ribbing,” he said. “I did a joke about the film Spotlight, the one about the pedophile priests. I said “Spotlight: loads of acclaim, including Roman Polanksi called it the perfect date movie.” I could tell from the gasps. He joked about Roman Polanski! Why not? I’m not having a go at his directing. One person said to me how dare you go after Mel Gibson? Mel Gibson is the director of Braveheart. No, I love that film. Wasn’t having a go at his directing.”