Comedian Ricky Gervais is refusing to say sorry to a bereaved couple who were offended by a joke about a dead baby.
Ryan and Suzi Gourley, whose son Eli was stillborn last year, stormed out of Ricky’s Belfast gig.
The couple were on their first night out since the loss of their son.
The joke was part of a routine in which Ricky reportedly made references to cot death and even said that the death of an adopted child “wouldn’t matter as much” as the death of a biological child.
I wish I had a pound for every time I offended someone. Wait, I do.
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) March 30, 2017
He has been taking the criticism in his stride. “I wish I had a pound for every time I offended someone,” he wrote on Twitter. “Wait, I do.”
Fans were quick to support Ricky, saying that the issue had been blown out of proportion.
Ricky retweeted a fan who wrote: “Making a joke about an issue is not the same as making the issue a joke.”
Another added: “If a comedian had to run every joke past the audience in case it offended we would never have a show. I feel sorry for @rickygervais #PCBrigade.”
Ricky also explained that the joke was “one of the milder routines in my
#humanity set. I just hope no paedophiles with food allergies have bought tickets.”
He also said that his routine includes jokes about “AIDS, cancer, famine”.
Another fan said he hoped Ricky would return to Belfast. “Hoping Gervais doesn’t let a few folk take from the fantastic reception he got in Belfast,” he wrote. “#ComeBackSoon.”
Ricky replied: “Of course not. 2 people offended out of thousands having an amazing time. (Including me) Can’t wait to return to your brilliant city!”
Suzi Gourley told Belfast Live why they were upset. “We went and hoped to have a bit of a laugh. I’d heard of this comedian but I’d never seen him,” she said.
“I didn’t know what his jokes were like but I wouldn’t have expected that in a million years from anybody.
“I know people take things differently and I know our emotions are raw, but why joke about a baby being dead? It’s just wrong.”
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The couple also complained to the non-profit group Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support, who then posted a warning about the show.
“Going out after a loss can be a difficult thing to do — there are feelings of doubt, thoughts that you shouldn’t be enjoying yourself as it’s somehow disrespectful to your child’s memory,” they wrote.