Ricky Gervais has doubled down on coming after privileged celebrities, after Tom Hanks’s reaction to the comedian’s Golden Globes speech aimed at the elite went viral earlier this year.
The After Life star issued a scorchingly hilarious take-down of the ‘virtue signalling’ elite who still fly around in their private jets, with a no holds barred routine directed at the faces in the room in January.
Much to the shock of those present, and the entertainment of us watching on at home, the star took to the stage for a seven-minute-long monologue which took aim at the stars and their privilege, their housekeepers who had the night off, and the fact they’ve ‘gone to school less than Greta Thunberg’, which caused many a meme – mainly from Castaway star Tom, whose expression was our chosen Twitter reaction gif for a good few weeks.
Now Ricky has reflected on his monologue as well as the idea behind celebrity, insisting that the word ’embarrasses’ him as he feels it’s ‘charged with something else’ – while also accurately wondering why on Earth actors who pretend to save lives are paid so much more than actual doctors and nurses who do.
Speaking on the Stuff Of Legends with Christian O’Connell podcast this week, Ricky said: ‘This year, in particular, people were really tired of virtue signalling people telling them how to live when they were still flying around the world in private jets and never done a day’s work in their lives.
‘One of the early jokes was people in the room, they’re woke, so it’s a bit ironic this is the only three hours your poorly paid house staff will get to sleep this week. Straight away I laid out the wares and it built up a crescendo to “you are in no position to lecture the public about anything, you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.”
‘They’re still jokes but it’s disguised as a rant and I think people reacted to it.’
Reflecting on the tension in the room during such a monologue, Ricky said it ‘comes in waves’ – one being that no one wants to laugh at a joke and lose out on jobs because they’ve angered some executive, while others can’t truly relax out of fear they’re next on Ricky’s monologue hit list.
He went on: ‘No one wants to be the butt of the joke; nothing I say is that bad. I only go after their public behaviour. I still say it’s a gentle roast. I could honestly say a lot worse things about them, but I don’t want it to get really nasty and for no reason, they still have to be jokes.’
As The Office creator laughed at the main applause coming from around the room, ‘where the agents and lawyers’ were sitting, he zoned in on Tom becoming the viral moment of the night.
Ricky added: ‘The big meme was Tom Hanks going: “Why is he saying that?” And people are going, “Oh look he’s on his high horse”. But when Leo DiCaprio laughed, people loved him for it.
‘I think people who laugh at a joke, they get a round of applause; people go, “Oh that’s good, they can take it.” I think it’s in us that we don’t want people to be above it. If we think people are talking down to us. We even let people be privileged as long as they say, “I know I’m privileged but I’m nothing really,” we don’t like people to go “Yeah I deserve it, how dare you talk to me like that”.
‘And if we sense that, if we really think these people start believing their own hype, we want to bring them down a peg or two.’
He went on: ‘I think that’s totally natural. It’s luck that actors get paid hundreds of thousands of times the wages a nurse. That’s just luck, that’s crazy, really, isn’t it? Why do we pay someone who pretends to save lives more than someone who actually saves lives?’
Ricky believes people are fine with stars having money if they entertain, but it’s when they start lecturing the public it turns fans off.
In that way, he insists he’ll remain separate from the world of celebrity in order to call it out in his routines.
He said: ‘I have to be an outsider to remain a good comic voice. I have to not be beholden to them, I mustn’t be scared of anyone in particular because they give me a job, which I’m not because I create my own labour.
‘So on paper I’m a pretty good guy to be in the room with the richest, most privileged people in the world.’
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