I can take a trans joke, but I can’t take really, really bad comedy

Apparently, my knickers ought to be in a knot these days.

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patti dawn swansson

After all, that mean and nasty Ricky Gervais unholstered his acerbic wit and aimed his boozy-breathed humor at transgender people during the Golden Globe gala on Sunday night in Tinseltown.

The nerve.

I mean, did Gervais not receive the memo from the politically correct police? Thou shalt not poke fun at trans individuals, fictional or otherwise, and thou shalt never, ever, ever, ever—under any circumstances—take the name Caitlyn Jenner in vain. She is transgender deity, don’t you know. The High Priestess in the Cult of Cait.

So where does Gervais get off going off on Jenner?

“I’ve changed,” the British comedian said at the outset of his opening monologue as host of the annual trinket-giveaway that salutes the best of both the big and small screens in the entertainment galaxy. “Not as much as Bruce Jenner, obviously. Now Caitlyn Jenner, of course. What a year she’s had. She became a role model for trans people everywhere, showing great bravery in breaking down barriers and destroying stereotypes. She didn’t do a lot for women drivers, but you can’t have everything, can you?”

For this, a mighty squawk has arisen and all manner of scorn has been heaped upon Gervais. He’s been branded a bigot and, of course, transphobic.

But wait.

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Ricky Gervais

It wasn’t transphobic at all. If anything, it was sexist. It leaned on wearisome, dog-eared stereotyping that women are complete klutzes when in command of an automobile. It was also extremely insensitive, in that it referenced the fatal traffic accident that the still-Bruce Jenner caused on the Pacific Coast Highway. The joke fell flatter than day-old beer not because it was aimed at trans diva Jenner, but, rather, because fatal traffic accidents aren’t funny.

Gervais’ next knee-slapper targeted Jeffrey Tambor, who plays patriarch-cum-matriarch Maura Pfefferman on the TV show Transparent.

“What an actor, what a role,” mocked Gervais. “Every day, he has to put on all that women’s clothes and the hair and makeup and let people film it. That takes balls. So, I don’t know how he does it. I really don’t. I’ve seen his balls. They are huge and long. I don’t know how he tucked them in the bra, that thing push them out the back and let them hang out, like a bulldog. No one knows.”

Yup, another real side-splitter. Totally unfunny. But, again, not transphobic. Just remarkably juvenile, sophomoric and frat-boy feable from a highly decorated comic now looking for lazy laughs.

Gervais’ final foray into the transgender mine field was his introduction of Eddie Redmayne.

“Our next presenter,” he said, “is an actress both beautiful and talented. Born in England, she came to America and has taken Hollywood by storm. The star of the nominated movie, The Danish Girl—it’s a dude.”

Gervais then stared awkwardly at Redmayne, who is very much male and plays the role of real-life transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl.

Referring to anyone as “it” is hopelessly distasteful and, in this instance, decidedly transphobic and utterly unfunny.

But most of what Gervais delivered at the Globes gala was unfunny. Seriously. He’s cracking wise about pedophilic priests? That isn’t funny because child molestation isn’t funny. And using Roman Polanski as a punch line is as outdated as the women-can’t-drive schtick.

Clearly, Gervais needs new material, but if I’m going to get my knickers in a knot over a boozed-up Brit’s lame attempts at lazy laughs, it’ll be for the right reasons, and I’m not about to permit the politically correct police to dictate what offends me.

Do I enjoy someone having sport with the T-troop? Not if it’s mean-spirited and said with malice, because I live the everyday hardships, challenges, ridicule and put-downs. But the “it” word aside, I found nothing that Gervais said wince-worthy vis-a-vis the transgender community. It was just stupid. Like much of the fierce fallout on the internet.

So you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t join the braying transgender chorus that would have Gervais tarred, feathered and disemboweled. I can take a joke, and from my perch his only real crime was being a really, really bad comedian.


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