Ricky Gervais has defended his jokes after a bad taste gag about dead babies at a show in Northern Ireland on Tuesday (28Mar17) prompted parents to walk out.
The controversial funnyman upset Suzi and Ryan Gourley, whose son Eli was stillborn last year (16), during the gig in Belfast, and they stood up and left the venue.
The Gourleys have since attacked Gervais for his humour in the Irish media, with Suzi telling Belfast Live, “I know people take things differently and I know our emotions are raw, but why joke about a baby being dead? It’s just wrong.”
But defiant Gervais has defended his joke, stating, “‘Is there any subject you shouldn’t joke about?’ is no less ridiculous a question than, ‘Is there any subject you shouldn’t talk about?’
“I see offence as the collateral damage of free speech. I hate the thought of a person’s ideas being modified or even hushed because someone somewhere might not like to hear them.
“Outside actually breaking the law or causing someone physical harm, ‘hurting someone’s feelings’ is almost impossible to objectively quantify. Jokes about ‘bad things’ don’t have to necessarily be pro those bad things. Surely, a joke that’s anti bad things is a good thing, no?”
“Basically, offence is about feelings, and feelings are personal,” he continued. “People simply don’t like being reminded of bad things.”
Ironically, after the show in Belfast, Gervais tweeted: “Still buzzing from last night’s amazingly warm and unshockable Belfast crowd. Can’t wait to do it all again tonight.”
Officials at the Stillbirth And Neonatal Death Support charity in Northern Ireland posted a warning about the show on Facebook on Wednesday (29Mar17), cautioning bereaved parents.
It read: “We have just had a message from a bereaved couple who were at the Ricky Gervais show in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast… They have asked us to make any bereaved parents attending the show tonight (aware) that there is a joke in the show about dead babies which upset this couple so much that they had to leave the show.
“If you are going to the Waterfront Hall tonight please be aware of this part of the show as it may be upsetting.”
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