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Ricky Gervais explains why Netflix didn’t promote divisive stand-up comedy show

Comedian’s special has become a blockbuster hit anyway

Jacob Stolworthy
Monday 01 January 2024 13:13 GMT
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Ricky Gervais calls terminally ill children 'ableist slur' during Netflix stand-up special

Ricky Gervais has explained why Netflix didn’t bother promoting his new stand-up special.

The British comedian’s controversial stand-up show, titled Armageddon, was made available to stream on Christmas Day without much fanfare from the streaming service – and, despite being mauled by the critics, it has since become a huge hit.

However, Gervais addressed Netflix’s lack of promotion in a post shared the week before release, suggesting that Netflix had refrained from placing posters of the film in public.

The comedian told his followers on X/Twitter: “Netflix aren’t doing any posters because they can’t be arsed.” When one of his fans asked why the service wasn;t “advertising” the show, Gervais replied: “They think it’s going to be huge whatever.”

The stand-up special did an effective job promoting itself thanks to the furore surrounding a controversial jokethat inspired a petition calling for its removal.

A teaser for the show previewed a section about his work with theMake-a-Wish Foundation, in which he jokes about how he approaches messages for terminally ill children who ask for him. He also uses an ableist slur against them.

Appearing on BBC Radio 5 Live, Gervais hit back at those who expressed their upset over the joke, questioning whether people were actually “offended” by it.

“I’m literally saying in the joke that I don’t do that. But people have a reaction. They don’t analyse it,” he said. “They feel something – that’s what offence is. It’s a feeling. That’s why ‘I’m offended’ is quite meaningless. What do you want me to change?”

Gervais suggested he finds it easy to ignore backlash against his jokes, adding: “I’ve got a duty to the people that like it and get it. I wouldn’t sit down with a heckler would I? If I’m playing to 20,000 people, I wouldn’t stop the show and explain to them. I ignore them.”

The comedian tweeted a content warning about the material in Armageddon days before release, writing: “In this show, I talk about sex, death, paedophilia [sic], race, religion, disability, free speech, global warming, the holocaust, and Elton John,” he said.

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Ricky Gervais shares reason Netflix didn’t ‘promote’ new stand-up special (Netflix)

“If you don’t approve of jokes about any of these things, then please don’t watch. You won’t enjoy it and you’ll get upset.”

Earlier this month, disability charity Scope warned that “language like this has consequences” and that “the people this kind of language impacts are real”.

“Language like this has consequences. The stage is real. Netflix is real. The people this kind of language impacts are real,” their message read. “‘Joking’ about this kind of language trivialises it. It risks normalising the abuse that many disabled people face on a day-to-day basis.”

The charity later said that it had been forced to turn off comments on its X/Twitter account due to the abuse they had been receiving in response.

Armageddon is available to stream on Netflix now.

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