Ricky Gervais responds to critics of Netflix show who filed a petition
(Credit: Netflix)

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Ricky Gervais responds to critics of Netflix show who filed a petition

Comedian and writer Ricky Gervais has responded to the controversy that’s raining around his new Netflix special, which has seen a petition to have certain jokes removed, even though it hasn’t yet been released.

In the teaser for Armageddon released by Gervais, he jokes about children with terminal illnesses, calling them “baldies” and the R-word. Over 12,000 people have signed a petition demanding that Netflix remove the joke from the special.

“I can play to a million people; I won’t get a complaint,” Gervais recently said on the Headliners podcast. “As soon as it goes on Netflix or as soon as someone writes up a joke that says this is offensive, people go, ‘Oh, that’s offensive.’ They haven’t even heard the joke. 

“They weren’t there. Ignore them,” he added. “They don’t count. They have no effect on me. They don’t count. They’re hecklers.”

The Change.org petition has been set up by Anna Villa, who claims to be a parent to a child who battled cancer.

“The recent skit by Ricky Gervais on Netflix, where he refers to terminally ill children as ‘baldy,’ is not just disrespectful but also deeply hurtful,” Villa wrote in the petition. “It mocks the courage and resilience of these young fighters who face their illness with grace and beauty despite their baldness.”

“Our children are not a punchline, their lives aren’t a joke,” she added. “This is why we demand that Netflix remove this offensive skit from its platform immediately. We believe that comedy should never come at the expense of someone else’s pain or suffering — especially when it involves innocent children battling life-threatening illnesses.”

Gervais noted, “They just want a reaction … being ignored has the same psychological effect as being slapped in the face. So I really, really enjoy ignoring people. They’re allowed to hate it. They’re allowed to not come to the show, but it’s not going to stop me doing what I love, and I’m not going to stop it at the expense of all the other people who love it. No one has to watch this.”