Ricky Gervais – Making Sense with Sam Harris

Check out the Sam Harris Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • “Reputation is what strangers think of you and character is what your friends know you are”
  • “You can make a joke about race without being racist”
  • “A camel is a horse designed by a committee”
    • In other words, too many opinions will result in a bad outcome
  • Comedians say bad things that they don’t mean and get in trouble while world leaders say bad things they do mean and get away with it
    • More often than not, a comedian’s joke isn’t his real opinion and is very often an exaggeration of a belief
  • “People don’t like their beliefs being made fun of so they try to give their beliefs humans rights”
    • The freedom to express ideas is more important than the freedom of not being offended by speech
  • Media is supported by ads, ads want clicks, clicks come from outrage, so therefore – the media’s goal has shifted to create as much outrage as possible
  • Just as journalists should be able to write about anything they want, comedians should be able to do the same and tell jokes about anything they please
  • Whenever you need to put things into perspective, remember – YOU ARE GOING TO DIE
    • Our time here is finite, spend it wisely

Intro

  • Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) is an English stand-up comedian, actor, director, screenwriter, and singer

On Being Famous

  • In his early 20s, Ricky would describe himself as a failed musician who had a get an office job to survive 
    • He later used that experience to write the hit sitcom – The Office (which first aired in 2001)
      • By the time “The Office” grew a large following and Ricky became famous, he was nearly 40 years old
        • Although Ricky never really sought out fame he feared the rumors/lies that would come with the territory
  • A quote to ponder:
    • “Reputation is what strangers think of you and character is what your friends know you are”
  • There is a point of fame where it becomes difficult to function as a normal human being (fortunately, Ricky says he hasn’t reached that level quite yet)
  • Originally, comedians were low-status individuals that made fun of kings and the elite, but today, many comedians are themselves part of the high-status group
    • To stay humble, Ricky takes people behind the scenes of his life and shows how even the rich and famous don’t live perfect lives
      • He also shares his personal problems with people: being fat, bald, etc.
  • Although being famous does come with its fair share of people who won’t like you, Ricky maintains a large social media following which he uses to promote his shows
    • “My gigs are pure profit because I don’t have to spend anything on advertising… It would be crazy to shut it down because of a couple of idiots”
    • Ricky also uses his social media following as market research (AKA a tool for getting feedback on jokes)
      • No joke will be liked by everyone – if 10,000 people like a joke and one person doesn’t, it’s madness to throw it out 
        • “You can make a joke about race without being racist”

Thoughts On Comedy

  • Today comedians need to make their jokes bulletproof for 10 years so that people can’t use it as ammunition against them anytime down the line
    • “It’s not enough to apologize and move on anymore, people want blood, people want you ruined”
      • Comedian Kevin Hart lost his dream job of hosting the Oscars for some jokes he tweeted back in 2009!
    • “As soon as you start apologizing to the mob, you might as well give hecklers the stage because that’s all they are, they’re hecklers”
  • There are real racists and Nazis out in the world but most of the time the Twitter mobs go after innocent people that just jokingly or mistakingly said the wrong thing
    • Social media also doesn’t know international boundaries – the word “c*nt” in the US is seen as extremely offensive, while in the UK it’s used quite differently
  • Comedy is an intellectual pursuit and if you’re pandering to get everyone to agree with you, then you’re losing part of the comedy
  • People say they want to be treated like everyone else, but no one wants to be the subject of a joke
  • Why do comedians get in trouble for telling ‘inappropriate’ jokes, but the people who laugh at those jokes don’t get in trouble? 
    • You should be allowed to laugh at bad things – it doesn’t make you a bad person
      • If you can’t joke about bad things, there is no need for humor because sometimes all you can do in a bad situation is laugh
  • Why are people holding comedians to the same standard as world leaders?
    • Comedians say bad things that they don’t mean and get in trouble while world leaders say bad things they do mean and get away with it
      • More often than not, a comedian’s joke isn’t his real opinion and is very often exaggerated

The Louis CK Controversy

  • Although the facts aren’t crystal clear, Louis CK, a well-known stand-up comedian, was accused by several women of sexual misconduct last year
    • He apologized to the public and laid low for a while but recently started popping up again in the comedy scene 
      • Some people want him to never work again, but Ricky says that isn’t the right answer
        • Louis should be free to do stand-up just as people should be free to protest outside the venue or by not coming to his shows
          • If he hasn’t broken the law, he should be free to perform

Additional Notes

  • Just as journalists should be able to write about anything they want, comedians should be able to do the same and tell jokes about anything they please
  • “People don’t like their beliefs being made fun of so they try to give their beliefs humans rights”
    • The freedom to express ideas is more important than the freedom of not being offended by speech
  • What’s better, the far right or the far left?
    • Neither – in one you’ll freeze, in the other you’ll burn
  • A good question to ask: “Who determines what is hate speech?
    • Also, who determines cultural appropriation?
  • Media is supported by ads, ads want clicks, clicks come from outrage, so therefore – the media’s goal has shifted to create as much outrage as possible
  • Two great quotes to remember: 
    • “A camel is a horse designed by a committee”
      • In other words, too many opinions will result in a bad outcome
    • “To lead the orchestra, you have to their your back on them”
      • As a leader, sometimes you have to ignore people
  • Whenever you need to put things into perspective of what’s important and what isn’t, remember that everyone is going to die 
    • Our time here is finite, spend it wisely
Making Sense with Sam Harris : , , , , , , ,
Notes By Alex Wiec

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