Ricky Gervais has needed to rest his case about pretty much everything for quite some time now. It seems like hosting the Golden Globes and being an atheist — two things that generally do not completely derail people, as far as I know — have completely torn down any semblance of being ON the rails that he ever had. Ugh. RICKY! Remember when you made Extras? That was a good show! And it the best thing about it was that it was on the rails! CAN’T YOU GET BACK ON THE RAILS? Recently he has taken his runaway atheismgoldenglobes train to Twitter, where he’s calling everyone a “mong.” “LOL.” From The Sun:

Comic Ricky Gervais was rapped by disability groups last night for a string of “mong” jokes. He uses the word on Twitter in phrases like “Good monging” and “Two mongs don’t make a right”. He posts snaps of himself in what he calls “monged-up” poses, with captions like: “My favourite drink is toilet.” And he once referred to singer Susan Boyle as “looking like a mong”. Mongol is an offensive and dated reference to people with Down’s Syndrome.

“My favourite drink is toilet.” WHAT! This is all terrible and he’s a jerk and I hate him so much, but I still believe he could’ve thought of a better joke caption than “My favourite drink is toilet.” Ricky’s defense in this has been that he doesn’t believe mong is a term that refers to people with Down’s Syndrome anymore, rather it now means “complete idiot” – he continues to cite that “gay” used to mean “happy” AND NOW LOOK — and that people who are getting upset just aren’t getting the joke. Of course. “Classic.” But when you say that people aren’t understanding your joke, you generally have to offer a different way of understanding it. Right now it seems pretty clear that the joke is that he’s using the term “mong” in the exact way those who are upset with him are perceiving it. And THE PHOTOS OF HIMSELF? The photos of himself doing cartoony imitations of people with Down’s Syndrome? Great joke, I totally get it. I totally get it and the joke has nothing to do with Down’s Syndrome, but I AM going to keep it under my hat. Figure it out for yourselves! Ricky Gervais has responded on his blog:

Now I understand that you can’t please everyone with the things you say and nor should you try… but surely they have to report what I say accurately before they start to damn it?

Again that’s the good thing about Twitter. It’s documented.

I should just say a thank you for the overwhelming support too. Means a lot.

And that’s another thing. All these people saying it’s “disgusting” and “ban him from the telly”… They never liked me anyway. They couldn’t have or they would understand.

Still mustn’t grumble.

FALSE, RICKY GERVAIS! We all used to like you, but the thing is that you are just oddly horrible now. Just a bad person? And not even a funny bad person. Unless you’ve always been terrible, which I absolutely believe could be the case, and you’re just letting it out now because you feel like you’ve done enough that people will still have faith in your comedic talent even when you are the worst. Ugh. Ricky. You are disgusting! BAN YOU FROM THE TELLY! (Thanks for the tip, Michael.)

Comments (94)
  1. You know, I think I’m in the minority, but I still think David Brent isn’t as funny as Mongol Scott.

  2. Ricky Gervais created one of the funniest TV shows ever.

    However! Evidence that he’s an asshole: the Ricky Gervais Podcast. Evidence that he is a solipsistic pedant of the highest order: The Invention of Lying. The clues were there all along!

    • I don’t understand what you mean by “solipsistic pedant.” As I recall, that theme of that movie didn’t have anything to do with solipsism.

        • Your Zardoz avatar and username are the best. I just thought you should know.

          • Hey, thanks man. I haven’t even seen Zardoz which is an inside joke I have with myself. Now you know the inside joke, too. Unless you never return to this thread. My real name is Graham, which is the inspiration for my username…. All right, going to stop talking now.

          • You should watch it, if not for the delightfully gross feeling you get at the end, half of you wishing you had the last 2 hours of your life back, a quarter of you wishing you hadn’t just damaged your brain, 12.5% of you wondering what kind of person would make this sort of thing, 6.75% of you has decided on your halloween costume, and the rest of it is the damaged part of your brain, forget about it, it’s Zardoztown.

      • I just meant that the Invention of Lying was not a cute look for him & made him seem both tween girlishly navel-gazey AND overbearingly superior.

  3. At least he didn’t went all Janet-Jackson-photo-homage on our asses this time.

  4. I actually like him as a comic actor, but as a stand-up comedian I just don’t think he’s very funny. I think deep down he knows that and is trying to distract people who aren’t dullards from noticing by being offensive and odd.

    When he came on stage to stall for ten minutes at the Concert For Diana when the next act wasn’t ready, it was an awkward train wreck. What comedian doesn’t have 10 decent minutes of jokes in his back pocket to whip out when needed?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35M8l7nf9mg

    • I was easily least impressed by him in Talking Funny. He just seemed pedantic and pretentious, unable to laugh at any sort of low humor without sneering irony.

      • I agree. He really came across as if he was out of his league in that company and that he knew it and was trying to keep up but couldn’t.

      • I don’t disagree with you, but I thought Seinfeld came off like a way bigger jerk — super duper entitled and very unfunny. I was wondering if they added him so they’d all look better. But the project, while fascinating, is incredibly self-indulgent so the only way anyone could not look bad is if they were Louis CK or Chris Rock.

  5. Is he having a laugh?

  6. Are you ‘avin a laff? Is he ‘avin a laff..?

  7. All comedians on twitter become awful and tedious. Ricky, as ever, is just ahead of the curve.

  8. He should stick to writing TV shows. He’s no stand up comic, and his movies are just bad. I really really loved Extras. Does he think he’s too good to write TV shows now? He’s wrong.

  9. The Office (UK) is one of the greatest television shows of all time and I enjoyed Extras. But he’s totally insufferable now. It sunk in for me when I watched his horrible episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. I don’t know what happened to the man but I wish it could be undone.

    I’m not getting rid of his record though:

  10. Yes, thanks for the tip, Michael.


    That’s what she said.

  11. The genius of a comic is always their undoing in the end.

  12. He should totally make this his blog theme song:

    http://youtu.be/GZDl_R8Zp2E

  13. his music video on the last episode of the office was priceless

  14. Gum fact:

    “Mongol” refers to a citizen of the Mongol Empire, which conquered a vast swath of the known world, kicked some serious ass, and kind of started globalization. (They invented the passport. They were awesome. Brutal motherfuckers if you messed with -which is to say did not surrender to- them, but awesome). China, India, and Korea more or less have the borders that were established for them by the Khans.

    “Mongoloid” is an absurdly racist and offensive term that harkens back to…you know how people with Down syndrome kind of look different? Well, people of “learning” in the 18th or 19th century basically thought that this was the inferior traits of the Mongol conquerors expressing themselves generations later.

    http://www.amazon.com/Genghis-Khan-Making-Modern-World/dp/0609610627

    The Gum You Know.

    • The guy who first named it “Mongolian idiocy” in the mid-1800s was John Langdon Down, for whom Down’s syndrome is now named.

      Also:
      In the early 1900s, Dr. Henry H. Goddard proposed a classification system for mental retardation based on the Binet-Simon concept of mental age. Individuals with the lowest mental age level (less than three years) were identified as idiots; imbeciles had a mental age of three to seven years, and morons had a mental age of seven to ten years.

      • Honestly not trolling, but why can we not say “mong” (which is a word I never heard before), but idiot, imbecile, and moron are all OK?

        • “Mong” has racial implications that the other words do not. Although I’m sure the degree to which calling someone a “mong” or “mongoloid” is ok versus calling someone an idiot or moron or even “a retard” varies from person to person.

          I had a friend whose sister was mentally… see, now, I don’t even know what word we’re all using these days.. and she would always refer to people and actions as “SO RETARDED!” But I can’t, because I feel like it just makes people cringe too much to pay attention to whatever it was I was talking about. (Ice cream, probably. Or Katherine Chloe Cahoon.)

        • Interesting question…I’d say it’s different because “mong” is specifically a racial term used to denote mental defect, whereas idiot, imbecile, and moron are all terms specifically coined to do the same, without attaching the negative association to something like an ethnic group.

      • It’s ‘Down Syndrome’, no ‘apostrophe s’ involved. Down Syndrome.

    • Also, a huge number of Mongol soldiers settled in what is Hungary after rampaging across many lands. Some people of Hungarian ancestry have vaguely Asian features and this is why… according to my AP European History book that I kind of think was a terrible book.

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    • You must be new here.

      Some of us remember that Gabe working this blog alone was the anomaly, and additionally: Kelly is great.

      • Sorry duders I guess the humor is a bit off. I can find myself disagreeing with Gabe but still laughing and accepting his opinion but posts like this? Gag me.

        • Nice apology, dick. I suppose I shouldn’t even be replying to this, as you’ll never see it, but MAN. Something being on the internet DOESN’T MEAN IT HAS NO REPERCUSSIONS (#goodgrammargum?). YOU KNOW WHO WRITES WHAT’S ON THE INTERNET? PEOPLE. AND PEOPLE HAVE FEELINGS. I doubt that Kelly gives a crap about this, but seriously. If you couldn’t tell from the brilliant amount of downvotes that you got, STOP BEING A JERK.

  16. He does have a point, though; words do change over time. I used to have a completely different idea of what “Ricky Gervais” meant to me than I do now.

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    • The term ‘Politically Correct’ is depressing me. It is used only to shut down debate, and by tarring a viewpoint, generally a wellmeaning, compassionate one, as ‘so uncool and unfun, guys. You aren’t uncool and unfun, right?’.

  18. Well now that he’s outed himself as an asshole I think I can air my grievances with the Ricky Gervais Show, didn’t it seem like half the time he was just unfairly shitting on Karl Pilkington? Sure most of what that guy said was misinformed nonsense but sometimes he did have a good point to make and just couldn’t articulate it very well and Ricky would just call him a fucking moron and move on. Also naming the show after himself when it was primarily about him talking to his two friends seemed pretentious.

    • The naming of the show was likely just the appropriate business decision due to name recognition. I think that show is great, and although Karl is absolutely the key element, the show needs the contrasting demeanors of both Ricky and Steve. They know how to ask Karl the right questions, and Steve’s genial, inquisitive personality tempers Ricky’s condescension, though I agree it can still be a little much at times.

    • My feelings on how he treats Karl are sort of wrapped up in the way I feel about Ricky himself (It’s Complicated: TM Facebook). He’s an asshole who does funny stuff, although sometimes he’s just an asshole. At least Stephen is there some of the time to sort of back Karl up a bit, although it’s mostly a game of good cop/bad cop to try and get Karl to say stupid things. Related to this post, it’s a bit of a icky area to because, I think at some point it was established that Karl actually has a low IQ (not sure if that was them picking on him, a true fact, or both). The idea of basically getting someone who is mentally deficient, and prodding him with a stick so that he performs for comedy is a bit weird. I enjoy Idiot Abroad for the most part, but the Ricky parts are often cringe worthy. It’s one thing when say, Larry David is horrible to someone on his show, as someone pointed out, but seeing Ricky be horrible to Karl ussually makes me just feel bad for Karl. Especially as, while someone like David Brent is a bit oblivious, Ricky is completely aware he’s being an asshole and laughing his fucking tits off about it. I keep seeing these adds for the show with Warwick Davis, which seems like it should be funny, but the ads are just horrible, as it’s mostly just Ricky being excited that he gets to toy with Warwick, by either using him to scare Karl, or make him do ridiculous things, etc. I would hope that there is at least some sort of self awareness on Ricky’s part, that he ‘lives his gimmick’, so to speak, and that he’s not nearly as much of an insufferable asshole, but plays it up as a persona ala Andy Kaufman.

  19. I know he’s been taking photos of himself like that for a really long time. I’m not sure whether the potentially offensive slang was always a part of that, but I guess it’s possible or likely. I also don’t know whether “mong” in the UK is roughly equivalent to saying “retarded” in the US, but it also seems likely to me. It’s a tricky issue and I tend to agree with both sides: Ricky, along with Trey Parker and Matt Stone, has a valid point about use and meaning, but in the end I think the position of those affected by disability should be given more weight, though that’s not to say they will all agree with the PC position…Sorry to go on…the “off the rails” thing is kind of hyperbolic.

  20. As much as I agree that what he said isn’t that funny, I really hate how every day it seems like a new comedian is being chastised or held hostage by special interest groups for the language they use. Comics are supposed to poke fun at the extreme aspects of our society and comment on their absurdity. They shouldn’t have to apologize every time they use the word retard, nigger or faggot in their act, because that is precisely what it is, an act. They are performing. It’s odd that someone such as the writers of South Park can make a cartoon character say offensive things about homosexuals or minorities and people call it biting satire, but if a comedian goes up on stage and does the same thing, the special interest groups come out in full force. Aren’t they only trying to make comedy of the same ideas?

    • I’m honestly not sure how I feel about Ricky at all, other than that he has kind of gone off the rails. But permit me to rebut you, using Tracy Morgan as an example, who I will happily chastise and hold hostage for the rest of my damn life:

      That motherfucker was not portraying a character onstage who is so hideous and stupid that he would actually stab his son in the heart if he acted “unmanfully.”

      He is that character. He IS the guy who said that. He might not literally do it, but there was an honest feeling there, and the joke was “you’re not supposed to say this shit, but we’re all thinking it, right?!” Otherwise he wouldn’t now be saying that he “doesn’t understand what he said that got gay people all upset.”

      I was chastised by a friend once for using the word “pussy” as a derogatory. I thought she was being totally prudish and unfair – I mean come on, I know vaginas are amazing. I’m completely impressed by and respect them…so I was forced to ultimately come to the conclusion that using a slang term for them as an insult that implies weakness is wrong. It just is. And if anything, I’m much, much funnier than when I used to whip out “pussy” in a semi-ironic “I’m gay so I can talk like an idiot bro” sort of way.

      We are what we say. It creates our world. That said, I think comics should push the envelope, every time. And they should have the pussy to take some heat for it if the core of that joke is ugly and mean-spirited.

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        • Nobody’s talking about banning anyone or anything, and GLAAD didn’t force Tracy Morgan to do a damn thing. Who’s talking about protecting or coddling anyone?

          As a matter of fact, I said on this very website that I *love it* when someone reveals themselves to be a disgusting bigot. I want them to have a bigger platform, a bigger microphone. I want my enemies visible, audible, and recognizable for the haters they are.

          I came to the conclusion that using the word “pussy” to denote weakness was literally wrong – it was incorrect and stupid and completely antithetical to my whole value system.

          Ain’t NO babies comin’ out of my penis. We do NOT have the strength.

        • I need you to clarify something… if you express your opinion that a woman is a bitch or a person of color is an n-word or a person of Middle Eastern descent is a sand n-word or some other awful phrase, etc etc. AT WORK instead of just calling them an asshole, you don’t understand why that would be offensive?

          Because odds are you’re just pissed at the person. Calling them the derogatory phrase for a stereotype you just put them in makes it sound like you hate them first for whatever it is that makes them different from you THEN that they’re an asshole. And recognizing that words do, in fact, have power is not a PC thing. It’s a humanist thing.

          Christ, don’t be such an asshole.

          • “sand n-word”

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          • Actually words like that have power because people in traditional positions of power have used those very words to devalue others.

          • One saying I learned here, on Videogum, from a commenter that said he/she learned it from a history teacher (some fact there might be wrong).

            Words and actions have consequences.

            One more time:

            Words and actions have consequences.

            So you can say and do all sorts of things, and comedians can stand up and spout hateful diatribes, but none of us should be surprised when there is a consequence to those words and actions.

            /thanks Videogum commenter who’s name I don’t remember – I think about that quote all the time.

        • I don’t want to get caught up in this 3 month old debate, but I’m with you Sadparadise – Comedians don’t have an “out” because they’re comedians. But they have the freedom to use language as a means to make a point, and the audience they make that point to is free to throw tomaters.

          I hate the Tracy Morgan example, because it’s a stupid example, because it was a stand-up routine meant for a closed audience, and it was brought outside that audience, out of context, and it’s unfair to Tracy because people who didn’t pay tickets to go see him were/still are making judgements based on paraphrasing and hearsay.

          The audience present was free to throw tomaters. They are free to judge that act all they like. We are not, because we were not there. We’re not buying tickets. We’re not funding his salary.

          Ricky’s mistake is a public one however – clearly this is meant for his twitter audience. So public chastising is totes appropriate.

          • I think it’s a slim and unimportant distinction. Tracy wasn’t performing for people in his living room. Comics don’t have some kind of confessional seal on what goes on in a comedy club, and I have never heard anyone say that a comic has a reasonable expectation that excerpts of his act not be repeated lest people draw harsh conclusions about him.

            Maybe the act was meant for a closed audience because it was full of nasty bullshit that a wider audience would react to very sharply.

            But anyway, back to the matter at hand, you shouldn’t call people “mongs.” Mongs are amazing. Half the people in the world have them. They give birth to us.

            Wait. Shit.

          • I respect that opinion, but I still disagree with it – I wasn’t at that show, so I’m not going to judge. I try not to judge anyone based on second-hand quotes, especially when it comes to comedians. They are comedians. There are way more important people saying way more offensive things that I just think the whole “Celebrities need to be held accountable” stance is a massive distraction. There are people out there who profess they are speaking “the truth” where “the truth” is 100 times more frightening than what Tracy Morgan or Ricky Gervais are saying. Leave the clowns alone. Stop buying tickets to their shows, and stop watching their TV shows. FOR SURE! I completely support that stance. But asking that they publicly apologize and wishing ill one them…I’m just not for that.

          • I totally agree with you there. I have Facebook arguments about the OWS protests I need to get back to!

          • Shoot, there are OWS protest facebook arguments happening without me?!

        • Freedom of speech means the government can’t use laws (i.e. the police and/or army) to prevent you from saying something. Outside of that, peope are as free to say stupid offensive shit as they are to tell the companies that hire those people to fire them. Or to tell those people that they should apologize. No one is forcing anyone to do anything, unless there is a proverbial gun to their head. Its calculation. It is more economically feasible for Tracy to apologize than it is to stick to his guns. In some cases, someone will get fired because the money you will lose by getting rid of them is less than the sponsors that would leave if you didn’t fire that person. As the supreme court put it … money is speach. And if the audience, or the sponsors talk enough, it may be louder than one person. In terms of “no one will watch him” … that is basically what ‘trying to get someone fired’ is. They just happen to mention to the persons boss, that they won’t be watching him anymore.

          And ultimately, freedom of speech doesn’t mean that someone who has the megaphone, or the mike, has a right to it. Being put on national TV, or on stage, is not a right, it’s a priviledge. No one can stop people (in free countries) from expressing themselves, but they can stop giving them a venue and platform to easily reach tons of people. Otherwise, it’s just as ‘wrong’ to not give someone their own TV show for being a horrible racist homophobic garbage monster than it is to fire them from a TV show for the same reason.

      • If you use the word “pussy” to call someone scared, then it has nothing to do with vaginas. It has to do with cats. “Pussy” and “puss” originally meant “cat”. So, when you call someone a pussy, you’re saying that they’re scared like a cat. Not scared like a vagina, because what?

    • One of the great things about comedy, to me and maybe to no one else, is that it uses humor to start a dialogue. I mean, yes, some things are just funny and that’s it. But comedy also often gets people (and The Media, trademark symbol) talking about and thinking about WHY certain things are considered offensive or impolite or taboo.

      I think there’s also an important difference between a joke that is, for example, racist and a joke that is about racism. Both can be funny, yes, and it’s totally possible to be offended and entertained at the same time, but it’s nice to be able to sit back and think to oneself “Why did that joke bother me?” or “Why am I laughing at this?”

      Plus, I think that a joke, even a funny joke, can lose its impact when it appears that a comedian is trying to be offensive in order to simply offend, without providing any additional insight or commentary or point of view.

    • But most of the times South Park and similar shows are trying to take the power away from the word by using satire to poke fun of the way it is used and why. Think of the first episode in which SP swore or the one where they tried to change the term fag to mean annoying bikers and pretty much any episode in which Randy Marsh is given a lot of attention. The Chris Rock Show also did this and did it quite well. Sunny does it or gets around it by making new swear words that get past the censors… but the Sunny characters are clearly sociopaths and if they do something it’s meant as part of the anti-hero characterization.

      Whereas overtly using it in a derogatory manner is different in a routine, even if it is part of an act. I have seen it work, but it has to be done in a very specific way and very intelligently. Aziz Azari’s character RANDY can do things that Aziz Azari cannot. Larry David on TV can do things that Larry David in real life could not. And even if the lines are blurred between characterization and actual person, the use of the terms is still contingent upon the acts of the person saying things. Margaret Cho and Kathy Griffin can get away with homosexual jokes with little to no scorn that other people couldn’t touch because they are very vocal and active in the community in a generally positive way… whether or not those jokes are funny is a whole other issue.

      But even if the lines ARE clear, it’s very possible that what is obviously satire is misinterpreted and repeated out of context and becomes awful… really really awful. Think of the people who are probably quoting Gervais right now because they can’t overtly say ‘tard or the like. (I’ve definitely seen it done by white people quoting Chris Rock’s bit on who counts as an n-word.) It isn’t the same thing because you can’t repeat a show or a line on the show and have it make sense without the full context of the show and why it was done. Look at how a joke on How I Met Your Mother or Happy Endings on gender dynamics can be funny but if it’s done on Whitney it’s fucking unbearable. Context is everything.

      If you haven’t watched the HBO doc that was mentioned earlier in the thread, Talking Funny, it’s very interesting to see Chris Rock and Louis CK talk with Seinfeld and Gervais over which words they feel comfortable using and why.

      And now I’m off my pedestal… I believe my shift is starting at the glasses repair shop.

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  22. “I should just say a thank you for the overwhelming support too. Means a lot.”

    haha. hahahaha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    I can just see it now; “hey guys, have you seen the way everyone is getting on RG’s case? Man, when will that guy ever catch a break? SOLIDARITY! Something something something today, we are all Ricky Gervais *drinks from toilet*”

    Ricky-”I am so overwhelmed”

    Man, human empathy sure is stupidly misguided! Lulz!

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    • if i am offended by any of this, it’s how fucking lazy it is.

    • Humor at the expense of those with severe mental disabilities is one of the few things that can actually upset me. Still, I’m not offended by his jokes. If you want a good example of a terrible, offensive movie, watch The Ringer. What Gervais did here was just not funny. There’s no punchline. You’re right, I don’t really “get” his humor in this situation. I’m proud of myself for that.

  24. They use this phrase in Syria too (except it’s pronounced Mogholi) … my Arabic teacher used it in class to chastise us in what she thought was a perfectly harmless way and we were all like “did you just say what I think you said or is my Arabic worse than I thought it was?” and she went on to matter-of-factly explain the phrase, just all the gory details of how people with mental disabilities are supposedly similar to Mongolians, and we just stared at her like “no, we got it, thanks.” In summation, the best rebuttal to the “why-are-we-all-so-sensitive-and-PC” argument is to go somewhere where people are ACTUALLY not at all sensitive about this kind of thing. Yikes.

  25. But we still like Karl Pilkington, right?

  26. And you just know he’s thinking, ha yeah, everyone got all upset just LIKE I KNEW THEY WOULD. OMG SOOOO PREDICTABLE, the parochial proles.

  27. For what it’s worth, the main reason I tipped this story is because of the picture of Gervais making the “mong” face, which irritates me almost as much as his atheist press photos, but also is sort of hilariously bad? I think?

    Gervais combines the subtlety of Jeff Dunham with the arrogance of Christopher Hitchens. It is a joy to behold.

  28. Well, damn it, Ricky. I like him overall, but yeah, he should write TV shows and close his twitter account and speaking to the press account.

  29. I don’t know. These mong jokes seem like they might be a bit ironic.

    That being said, he strikes me as smug and far too proud of himself. I still can’t get over how much he and many bland Golden Globes viewers celebrated the “rebelliousness” of his relatively tame, tired jokes while hosting.\

    It’s like, the less funny he gets, the more egotistical he gets, which actually makes sense from a psychological standpoint.

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