Ricky Gervais returned to host this year’s 77th annual Golden Globes ceremony for the fifth time. The comedian, who’s been criticized by some for being mean-spirited while hosting, has admitted that he’s never “understood the controversy” surrounding his past hosting jobs, but he won't apologize for his jokes. In fact, the Golden Globes host recently explained why that's not something he does anymore.
Ricky Gervais, who’s being replaced as Golden Globes host by Tiny Fey and Amy Poehler in 2021, is a comedian in an era where comedians are facing heightened scrutiny surrounding the things they say or have said in the past. Take, for example, Saturday Night Live’s firing of comedian Shane Gillis, who saw past jokes land him in hot water.
However, when it comes to comedy, Ricky Gervais believes that it’s more of a “sliding scale” rather than a window to a comedian’s soul. On whether he’s ever tempted to apologize, Gervais had this to say:
You mustn’t, because that’s the end. The end of satire and the erosion of freedom of speech based on people’s feelings will have a catastrophic effect. It’s not just that comedians will be a bit grumpy or won’t be able to say things. It’s not the same as not allowing Bernard Manning to say the N-word on TV. It’s something much, much darker and more Orwellian. It really is.
That’s not to say that Ricky Gervais doesn’t regret any of his jokes. He’s said as much, most recently admitting his regret over the Golden Globes joke he made about Tim Allen. In an interview with The Spectator, the comedian mentioned there are “a lot of things I say I don’t believe” but that work as a joke, also noting that comedians “can’t please everyone.” While Gervais doesn’t think his fellow comedians should apologize, either, he feels that it is up to each individual comedian to decide how best to handle feedback. (He in fact also mentioned he's deleted jokes on Twitter before.) Per Gervais:
I don’t think they should have to apologise, but it’s up to them. I’ve seen actors say terrible things and then say sorry because they’ve got a film coming out the next day. If you want to do that, that’s fine. I don’t do it on principle. I don’t mean I never apologise; that would make me a psychopath. I mean I don’t back down and I don’t try to change history. I evolve. I’m sure I’ve told jokes ten years ago that I wouldn’t tell now because they wouldn’t fly.
Comedy is about growth, after all. As it were, Ricky Gervais didn’t seem to set off any major alarms when hosting the Golden Globes on January 5, though there were quite a few awkward jokes made during his opening monologue. If you're feeling up for more comedy, be sure to check out our list of funniest comedy specials on Netflix.