One of the classic headlines from The Onion says: “Marilyn Manson is now going door to door trying to shock people.” » The satirical article, published in 2001, was a devastating blow for a musician whose career consisted of dressing like a madman and shouting profane lyrics. Once you make light of it, the shtick quickly becomes embarrassing.
This title came to mind while reading a Tweeter Ricky Gervais posted a few days before the release of his new Netflix special, “Armageddon”: “In this show I talk about sex, death, pedophilia, race, religion, disability, free speech, of global warming, the holocaust and Elton John. . If you don’t approve of jokes about any of these things, then don’t watch them. You won’t like it and you’ll get upset.
Hoping to spark online debate and make his “woke” enemies — real or imagined — shake in their boots, “Armageddon,” released on Christmas Day, begins with Gervais vaguely explaining that he can’t be stopped. People get angry at his jokes? Hard shit – he had the #1 comedy special on Netflix last year. This is the latest example of a comedian with a huge platform who says what he wants while complaining that he can no longer say anything.
From there, the “Armageddon” theme is loosely related to how Gervais believes humanity will end, with brief thoughts on topics like climate change and robots. It’s some of the best material, but it turns into a culture war snoozefest so quickly that it demands an editor.
Ten years ago, it would have been impossible to mention Gervais in the same way as conservative hasbe like Rob Schneider and Roseanne Barr, but middle age seems to be the great equalizer of modern comedy. Is there NOTHING more interesting to talk about than people disagreeing with you on Twitter, or how hard it is to use the right labels for LGBTQ people? Don’t worry: Gervias even delivers an excerpt from the critical race theory that the authors of “Gutfeld!” » would moan. Although he constantly says “damn” and “asshole,” that doesn’t hide the fact that his jokes are as edgy as a drunken uncle stiltedly paraphrasing quotes from Newsmax during Christmas dinner. Thankfully, he’s curbing the anti-trans rhetoric he uttered in his latest special, dropping some relatively subtle, but still snarky, thoughts on the subject, seeming to want to avoid that press cycle again.
Aside from repetitive culture war grievances, here are some of the hot topics that Gervais is SURE will shock and delight audiences:
*Universities teach classes about Taylor Swift, isn’t that stupid?
*A punchline about the 1998 film “Armageddon”
*Jokes about Michael Jackson’s alleged pedophilia
*A joke about Chinese eating dogs
*Casting controversy for 2014 film “The Theory of Everything”
*A piece by Peter Dinklage / “Seven Dwarfs”
Comedians from the Catskills to local schoolyards would all agree that these tracks are beyond piracy. To add to the headache, just before the 20 minute mark, Gervais talks incessantly about his popularity, the size of his house, his charity, his wealth and his talent in comedy. I’m not laughing? It’s just jokes, he’s playing a role, and You are the problem. In fact, almost every “edgy” passage ends with a disclaimer that it’s just a joke.
That said, during the special, Gervais (thankfully) self-censors a racist slur and impression, the latter allegedly at the behest of his longtime partner, Jane Fallon. Ideally, he allows himself to draw lines in the sand, but anyone who disagrees with him is a fake snowflake.
Beyond the lack of fresh material, Gervais’ performance is as dull as his staging and his entirely black outfit: there is no style, no spice, no cadence in his humor.
Compare this slope to a modern master of stand-up like Anthony Jeselnik, who uses dark comedy to push the audience to the edge of their comfort zone, but the goal is always to achieve a satisfying and unique punchline.
Ultimately, it’s depressing to see such a keen comedic mind turn to mushy pulp. His “Extras” series is one of the smartest, most biting satires of all time, but it feels like 2023 Gervais would bully the 2005 version of himself for daring to rewrite material for the make it more modeling. Isn’t there someone in his camp who can tell him these jokes are half-baked? Maybe his old “Office” collaborator Stephen Merchant could give him some tough love?
This article will inevitably inspire dozens of emails and tweets with variations of “You don’t understand,” “You’re such a snowflake,” and “These are just jokes.” Even more disappointing, Netflix is set to toss another lump of holiday coal into our chimneys with another Dave Chappelle special peaking on December 31st. This will certainly underline all the tired points Gervais made a week ago. Hopefully, in 2024, these top artists will find something new to say.
Gn En enter