In Ricky Gervais’ new Netflix special ‘SuperNature’, the comedian tests the limits of offensive humour while commenting on its subjectivity.
As expected of Ricky Gervais, this comedy special matches his past performances in controversial themes, mainly composed of jokes around abortion, transgenders, racism and paedophilia.
Non-offensive topics include cats, stress and disappointing diseases. During a self-aware bit on offensive humour, Gervais mentions the backlash Kevin Hart and Liam Neeson faced over homophobic and racist comments as examples.
SuperNature is named so due to Gervais’ desire to debunk the supernatural by challenging common religious beliefs and because according to him, nature is ”super enough’.
SuperNature starts off with a few references native to Gervais’ own country which might leave other viewers searching for the joke. However, the show soon piques the audience’s interest with a return to reading out tweets, a tool commonly found in Gervais’ performances.
The comedian uses illustrative actions and movements around the stage to guide the audience’s imagination when adding to the joke. His well-delivered jokes are told through believable anecdotes and hilarious impressions of hypothetical religious situations.
Gervais presents a realistic comparison between ghosthunting shows and wildlife shows to illustrate the absurdity of the former when the main subject in concern is missing from the content, making it seem purposeless.
Gervais succeeds in establishing links between the topics to maintain a good flow but there are a few moments during the show when gaps in this appreciable flow can be observed.
Among the subjects touched upon, is one that comedians often fall back on, ‘the disparity between cats and dogs’. With novel jokes, Gervais adds freshness to this overused topic.
A feature that makes Ricky Gervais’ comedy stand out from others’ is the ‘irony’ of offensive humour, as he calls it. There is an evident contrast between the objectionable jokes sprinkled throughout the show and the special’s self-awareness of how humour can offend people. This placement enhances the jokes’ impact on the audience.
Despite carrying the audience’s attention for a major part of the show, breaks in this well-maintained flow can be seen between certain segments that seem to jump to a completely different subject.
Ricky Gervais is well-known for diving deep into dark comedy and this special is no different. He does not shy away from bringing up controversial topics like transgenders, racism and religion which has caused him to be targeted by the internet, funnily enough in a manner similar to what he poked fun at.
As asserted by Gervais himself, the part considering the supposed situation in which he was a transgender lesbian was unnecessarily drawn out with an unsatisfactory punchline.
Those who have been following Gervais’ performances would find the jokes about Gervais’ wealth familiar as his own affluence is a subject recurrent in the comedian’s acts. In addition to this, the special features overused jokes on obesity, doctors and rectal exams stealing away some of the audience’s interest.
Dabbling in sensitive topics, SuperNature is not for those who are thin-skinned. However, seldom dull, it is an enjoyable watch and those who relish dark humour are sure to let out a chuckle at Gervais’ impressions.