- Saturday 31st August 2019, 11:29am
- 4,103 posts
Ricky Gervais is under fire today in an article in The Independent.
Apparently, Ash Attallah has suggested at the Edinburgh Festival that Ricky might be "obsessed" with disabled people.
I think most BCG members will have heard Ricky make comedic references to Ash's disability and his subsequent use of a wheelchair. It seems Ash was not altogether happy about those jokes and now regrets his complicity in them.
The article also cites Ricky's jokes about Warwick Davis in Life's Too Short and about Ricky's creation of the character Derek in the sitcom of the same name.
Not mentioned in the article but certainly memorable (if I remember correctly) is the occasion upon which in The Office, a woman in a wheelchair was left abandoned in a stairwell during a fire drill as it was too much trouble to actually get her out of the building.
What is undoubtedly true is that Ricky is not a comedian who ignores disability: indeed he has often used it unashamedly for comedic purposes.
Over the years, some critics have suggested that such use is unacceptable - even deplorable.
On the other hand, however, it might be argued that Ricky's references to disability in his comedy serve more to include the disabled in the "normal" world rather than to exclude them.
Around 15% of the world's population suffer from some form of disability: clearly, it would be outrageous if comedians were to make a mockery of these people but is it essentially wrong for comedians to acknowledge these people's very existence? Is it not possible for a comedian to reference disability in a funny yet inoffensive manner?
It's a thorny question and one to which I suspect there is no ready answer.