Devil The inside
RICKY Gervais is one of the biggest comedians in the world and one of the most divisive.
When he’s not in trouble for hurling acid- tongued barbs at Hollywood celebrities at the Golden Globes, he’s upsetting disability advocates by referring to singer Susan Boyle as a ‘‘ mong’’, or for apparently exploiting dwarfs for cheap laughs in his new sitcom Life’s
‘‘ It’s always someone complaining on somebody else’s behalf,’’ the 50- year- old comedian moans on the phone from his London home.
‘‘ They assume someone will be offended. It’s just like at the Golden Globes: ‘ It’s outrageous he insulted someone’. Well, I’ve spoken to these people I told jokes about and they weren’t offended.’’ Gervais giggles. ‘‘ Who are these morally outraged people?’’
A year ago Gervais was at the centre of a worldwide media storm over the Globes.
The organisers ‘‘ banned’’ him from hosting again because his hilarious, celebrity ego- skewering gags had ‘‘ crossed the line’’ – a ban later revoked when they realised the publicity and buzz were worth it.
Although he told any journalist who’d listen that he ‘‘ didn’t care’’, Gervais seemed eager to set the record straight at last month’s Globes.
The first celebrity he wheeled out was Johnny Depp, who reportedly had been the most mortified. Depp also appeared on
Life’s Too Short, sending up his fury with a tirade of insults at Gervais.
‘‘ It was fun writing jokes about myself to give him to insult me,’’ Gervais says. ‘‘ So that’s how outraged Johnny Depp is.’’
Depp might not have been outraged, but plenty of moral guardians huffed and puffed about Gervais’s use of a dwarf as a figure of fun in Life’s Too Short.
In the show, that’s screening now on HBO in the US, Warwick Davis ( Willow ) plays himself as the Gervais- like manager of a talent agency for dwarfs.
‘‘ Some people didn’t get it,’’ Gervais says. ‘‘ They said, ‘ It’s exploitative, you’re laughing at a dwarf falling over’.
‘‘ Well, yeah. He’s a great physical comedian. Are you saying that little people aren’t allowed to do slapstick?’’
ABOVE: Ricky Gervais as David Brent in The Office. RIGHT: Ashley Jensen, Samuel L. Jackson and Gervais in Extras.