Fifteen minutes into the show, I stop watching “Supernature”, Ricky Gervais’ special for Netflix. It’s not possible. There’s something wrong there, I say to myself and to Catota, who’s been absent from the chronicles, but she’s still here beside me, judging me with huge blue eyes. I insist. Ten minutes pass. Why am I not squirming with laughter at these politically incorrect jokes?, I ask the feline, who yawns at my ridiculously human question.
The answer may lie in my own question. On “Supernature,” the jokes sound politically incorrect as if out of obligation. And from them, an equally obligatory laugh is expected, as if the viewer all the time had to prove to himself that he is not on the side of the insanity of Identitarianism & other contemporary fashions.
For little more one hour, it’s as if we’re facing yet another comedian wanting to pose as a hero of freedom of expression. Yet another uncancelable martyr to cancel culture. Yet another rebel wanting to shock the audience with his iconoclastic boldness. Maybe I’m getting old or Gervais caught me on a bad day. The fact is, when the show ended, I felt that laughter had become a duty.
A duty? Yes, a duty. It’s as if laughing at a trans joke immediately underscores my conservative values, even if the joke is weak. Ricky Gervais, I suspect, seems to have sensed that there is a demand – irony of ironies! – identity on the part of those who are not defined by sexual orientation, race or ideological axis. And what he does is take advantage of that, throwing the drooling viewer juicy bones of politically incorrect irreverence.
The curious thing is that Gervais himself kind of assumes the farcical character of the farce (!) even before of taking the stage, by having himself announced as “the man who didn’t need any of that”. There are two options for the viewer: to see the comedian as a selfless defender of freedom of expression, a protossanto who left the comfort of his home to show how important it is to make humor about anything ; or see him as an artist who is making those oh-so-heavy jokes in exchange for a caraminguá that he won’t even miss.
The most disappointing thing is that, at the end of “Supernature ”, Gervais clarifies this issue. He confesses himself willing to exhibit enormous moral laxity in the name of jokes and laughter. Which, in effect, means that he uses this moral laxity to gain even more fame, money, and relevance in public debate. Laughter, if any, is toast. And the “honor of comedy”, the “anarchic character of humor” and the “fight for freedom” are just idle justifications, of the many that we give for our mistakes, from the most insignificant to the most abominable.
All in all, I could laugh with sincerity just at the joke with “Ling Ling”. And the cat jokes are good too. Although the ones from Whindersson Nunes are infinitely better.