Ricky Gervais’ new stand up special Humanity, currently on Netflix, is a provocatively hilarious and thoughtful show about offensive comedy.
After spending the last 7 years producing, writing, directing and starring in his projects, Gervais makes his comeback to stand up for Netflix with Humanity.Those of you who already know Gervais’ material will not be surprised that transgender issues, rape and religion are not off limits for this comedian. Though the term “liberal-baiting” is often used to label Gervais, this new stand up special really takes a look into whether his critics were correct to label him so.
Humanity is by far Gervais’ most personal set so far, he talks us through the stories of his wig wearing Uncle Reg, brother Bob who hilariously pranked their own mother’s funeral, and his childhood experiences growing up in Reading. A side not often shown by Gervais, this special definitely humanises him, adding a new dimension to the provocative comedian.
The most controversial material in Humanity is his revisiting of the now infamous joke directed towards Caitlyn Jenner at the 2016 Golden Globes. Like a surgeon with a scalpel, he carefully attempts to remove the criticisms and backlash directed towards him. Gervais goes into a savage skit about “species reassignment” surgery to become a chimp, and argues that the same arguments and criticisms would sound silly if applied to his theoretically post operation chimp self “Bobo”. He uses the phrase “If I say I’m a chimp, I am a chimp.”
This segment has been seen by reviewers as been transphobic and insensitive (see here and here), but also serves to comment on Gervais' overall style as a comedian and his own understanding of an ever changing world.Humanity does feel a lot more like a lecture with all the footnotes that he peppers along the way but is a must see for fans of provocative comedy. Ricky Gervais is as objectionable and combatively hilarious as ever.
Hero image: Ray Burmiston/Netflix