Ricky Gervais: My Golden Globes mission | EW.com


Ricky Gervais: My Golden Globes mission

As host of the 2011 ceremony, he left no celebrity unburned. Now Gervais, who'll return as Globes emcee on Sunday, Jan. 15, explains why ruffling feathers is a comedian's moral obligation

Several of my jokes at last year’s Golden Globes were deemed offensive by some. That’s fine. Everyone has the right to be offended. And I have the right to offend. The simple fact is, offense is taken, not given. It’s up to you if you’re offended or not. And remember, just because you’re offended, it doesn’t mean you’re right. Some people are offended by equality, mixed marriage, and homosexuality, for example. Who cares?

In comedy, particularly satire, the problem comes when people mistake the subject of a joke with the actual target. This happens to me all the time, as I tend to explore contentious and taboo subjects. Everyone has their own particular taboo, of course, and there is no real consensus on what is acceptable. Personally, I think no harm can come from exploring taboos, and fear of them is their very propagation. I often deal with these subjects because I like to take the audience to places it hasn’t gone before. Comedy is about surprise, and I think the job of a comedian is not just to make people laugh but also to make them think.

Comedy is an intellectual pursuit — and there is the problem. Offense is about feelings. And feelings aren’t right or wrong, they are personal. Press descriptions of my act ranged from ”ruffled a few feathers” to ”nasty.” The first one may be true, but then some feathers need to be ruffled now and again. But ”nasty”? Really? Not everyone will like my jokes, but if they are to get offended, they at least have to understand them. I shouldn’t have to explain myself, but it might be fun — and EW has a lot of space to fill. Let’s go through some of the most controversial gags from last year’s Golden Globes. (We don’t need to worry about many of them. No one worried about me suggesting that Bruce Willis was Ashton Kutcher’s dad, or that Charlie Sheen likes to party, or that Sly Stallone has a penchant for playing boxers and rogue Green Berets.)