“Comedy is not being nice! » Rowan Atkinson fans the flames of Cancel Culture Row | Celebrity News | Showbiz and television
The veteran comedian has revealed he now fears telling jokes will become a thing of the past. Promoting his new Netflix comedy Man Vs Bee, he said: “There are definitely those who would seek to contain what you should be joking about in order to make society kinder, more accommodating and more inclusive. But while being nicer to everyone is an admirable goal, comedy doesn’t work that way, it’s not about being nice.
“If your main goal as a comedian is to be nice, you’re not going to produce comedy of any kind. You can produce comedy but it won’t be remembered for very long.”
Atkinson, 67, famous for his roles in Blackadder, Not The Nine O’Clock News and Mr Bean, added: “Every joke has a victim – that’s what a joke is – whether it’s of a group, of a company, of a company, of individuals, of a fictional and non-fictional.
“You’re always going to offend someone – it’s unavoidable. But it’s contrary to what some people believe, it’s contrary to some people’s belief that victimization is always wrong. Well, it depends, that’s what I would say to that.
“Comedy is in a strange place and telling jokes is certainly something threatened from some quarters.”
Comedian Ricky Gervais made a similar point following backlash to his Netflix show Super Nature in which he discussed transgender issues. He explained to The One Show, “I think that’s what comedy is for, really — to get us through stuff.
“I deal with taboo subjects because I want to take the public to a place where they have never been.
“Most offense comes from people mistaking the subject of a joke for the target.”
Jimmy Carr also caused an uproar this year by making a joke about Nazis and the traveling community on Netflix.
Atkinson says his latest creation, Trevor, the hapless housekeeper, is one of the “nicest people I’ve played with”.
He said: “I like it and I enjoyed playing it, so it might reappear one day. Never say never.”
Like many of his characters, Atkinson said, Trevor has an “obsessive quality”. “It’s something you could say he has in common with Mr Bean, and sometimes my facial expression can remind people of that.
“Trevor’s obsession takes him to a pretty dark and difficult place, where he behaves extremely badly.
“But at the end of the day, he’s a regular, sweet guy, which isn’t how I would describe most other characters I’ve played.”
ManVs Bee: Netflix from Friday