Ricky Gervais: Humanity provides plenty of big laughs (4 stars)

Ricky Gervais: Humanity

Schoolboy teasing taken to a higher level by the cackling comedian

You often hear people claim, 'oh I don't like jokes about...' filling in the blank with whichever taboo subject is their particular gripe. Ricky Gervais unsurprisingly doesn't shy away from any of those topics: 'everyone's got an offence', he notes. But the key, as he qualifies at the beginning and returns to in more depth towards the end of Humanity, is that just because a topic is the joke's subject doesn't mean it's necessarily the butt of it.

Gervais claims not to know why he named his first tour in seven years Humanity, as he's not a fan of us humans: in truth it's clear he does care. His reputation for schoolboy teasing is intact here, punctuating many a punchline with that familiar cheeky laugh and getting into trouble for comments taken out of context by the press or the wrong way by Twitter users. But he frequently steps back to draw a clear moral line, returning to the point that joking about a topic in no way condones it. Plus towards the close of the show he gives a tantalising glimpse of how that humour developed alongside his older brother as they grew up on a Reading council estate.

Gervais fearlessly manoeuvres through paedophilia, drops in cancer and AIDS a few times, while death features a lot. As do apparently effortlessly handled, deft punchlines which provide plenty of big laughs. He also touches briefly on the current, worrying trend for populist, fact-ignoring views, brushing by Brexit and Trump but pulling back, claiming he doesn't want to get too political. But frankly it would be good to hear his views: we could do with some common sense backed up with actual facts right now.

Ricky Gervais: Humanity is on tour until Thu 19 Oct; seen at Manchester Apollo.

Ricky Gervais: Humanity

The latest stand up tour from the award-winning actor and comedian.

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