Armageddon review: New Ricky Gervais special is deeply problematic | Hollywood


Ricky Gervais‘ latest Netflix stand-up special, Armageddon, is a masterclass in the art of stagnation. It’s a comedic exploration of the end of the world, and one can’t help but feel that perhaps the real apocalypse is the lack of evolution in Gervais’s comedy.

Ricky Gervais brings a difficult-to-digest new standup act.
Ricky Gervais brings a difficult-to-digest new standup act.

What sort of works

Let’s start with the positives, because we wouldn’t want Ricky to think we’re fragile and scared of words. His delivery is as relaxed as ever, almost as if he’s delivering the same jokes he did a decade ago with a slightly different backdrop. The jokes in Armageddon feel less forced than in his previous special, SuperNature, but that’s like saying a lukewarm cup of coffee is better than a cold one. It’s still not exactly what you were hoping for.

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Gervais’s political commentary is embedded in his sarcastic stories, a subtlety as nuanced as a sledgehammer. He boldly tackles the evolving meanings of words, questioning whether we need to keep up with the changing definitions. It’s a profound exploration up until it gets overshadowed by his desperate attempts at shock humour.

What definitely doesn’t

Now, let’s address the cons. Gervais’s comedy hasn’t evolved much over time. It’s like he’s stuck in a time loop, recycling the same formula, hoping the audience won’t notice. Unfortunately, we do. The material feels tired, and it’s hard to shake off the feeling that we’ve heard these jokes before, perhaps in a different guise.

There are moments of humour in Armageddon, but they are sporadic, like finding a few edible crumbs in a stale loaf of bread. Gervais touches on intriguing ideas about humanity’s readiness to adapt to a changing planet, only to derail himself with unnecessary and offensive scenarios. It’s almost as if he’s trying to justify his own provocations before anyone has a chance to criticise.

Tired, offensive jokes

But perhaps the biggest problem with Armageddon is Gervais’s reliance on tired stereotypes and offensive humour. His jokes targeting illegal immigrants, homeless people, and trans individuals are not revolutionary; they are regressive. In a world where comedy has the power to challenge societal norms, Gervais opts for the low-hanging fruit, reinforcing stereotypes instead of dismantling them. Gervais seems convinced that being politically incorrect is a rebellious pose, but in reality, it’s just a refusal to adapt and grow.

In the end, Armageddon is a disappointing addition to Gervais’s repertoire. He plays it safe, despite the potential for religious fervour in a show with such a title. The potential for thought-provoking comedy is overshadowed by juvenile rants and recycled punchlines. The world may be ending, but Gervais seems more concerned with recycling old material than taking risks making it feel like a missed opportunity to challenge his own comedic boundaries.

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