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Film

Rowan Atkinson on cancel culture: “The job of comedy is to offend”

@Russellisation

Rowan Atkinson, the internationally-known actor of Mr. Bean, Blackadder and more, is set to return to the small screen with Netflix’s brand new series Man vs. Bee. 

Doing a press tour for the new programme, Atkinson spoke to The Irish Times where he discussed the impact of cancel culture on modern comedy. Talking to the publication, he stated, “The job of comedy is to offend”.

His opinion on the matter aligns with the likes of John Cleese and other classic comedians who have long decried the impact of cancel culture on comedy. Continuing in his statement, Atkinson adds, “It does seem to me that the job of comedy is to offend, or have the potential to offend, and it cannot be drained of that potential. Every joke has a victim. That’s the definition of a joke. Someone or something or an idea is made to look ridiculous”. 

Making a name for himself with the self-deprecating act of Mr. Bean, Atkinson is well attuned to how a joke should be told and should land. 

“I think you’ve got to be very, very careful about saying what you’re allowed to make jokes about,” the actor stated, suggesting that it’s always a good idea for comedy to ‘kick up’. Continuing, he adds, “You’ve always got to kick up? Really? What if there’s someone extremely smug, arrogant, aggressive, self-satisfied, who happens to be below in society? They’re not all in houses of parliament or in monarchies. There are lots of extremely smug and self-satisfied people in what would be deemed lower down in society, who also deserve to be pulled up. In a proper free society, you should be allowed to make jokes about absolutely anything”.

Take a look at the trailer for his brand new series Man vs. Bee, below.