Entertainment

Rowan Atkinson Says Comics Should Make Jokes About ‘Anything’ As He Talks About Cancel Culture


Rowan Atkinson hit back at ‘cancel culture’ and insisted comedians should be allowed to joke about ‘absolutely anything’ in a free society.

The Mr Bean star, 67, said the purpose of comedy was ‘to have the potential to offend’ and argued humor is made to make someone ‘ridiculous’.

Rowan said he thinks people should be careful not to impose restrictions on what comedians are allowed to joke about as he rails against cancel culture.

Freedom of speech: Rowan Atkinson (pictured in October 2018) hit back at ‘cancel culture’ and insisted comedians should be allowed to crack jokes about ‘absolutely anything’

He told the Irish Times: “It seems to me that the job of comedy is to offend or have the potential to offend, and it can’t be drained of that potential, every joke has a victim. “

Rowan, who has worked in comedy for more than four decades, also touched on the suggestion that jokes should “hit” those in power and not be directed down.

He added: “There are a lot of extremely smug and self-satisfied people in what would be considered lower in society, who also deserve to be uplifted.” In a truly free society, you should be allowed to joke about absolutely everything.

Speaking about the role of social media, Rowan said the platform strips jokes from their original content in an effort to incite anger and said we are still learning how to use technology.

Cancel culture: The Mr Bean star, 67, said the aim of the comedy was

Cancel culture: The Mr Bean star, 67, said the purpose of comedy was ‘to have the potential to offend’ and argued humor is made to make someone ‘ridiculous’

This isn’t Rowan’s first time speaking out against cancel culture, as he has previously campaigned against laws that could limit free speech and offensive language.

And in January 2021 he said social media fills him with “fear for the future” and that he deepened divisions in society and lowered tolerance.

He told the Radio Times: “The problem we have online is that an algorithm decides what we want to see, which ends up creating a simplistic, binary view of society.

“It becomes a case of you being with us or against us. And if you’re against us, you deserve to be “cancelled”.

“It’s important that we’re exposed to a wide range of opinions, but what we have now is the digital equivalent of medieval mobs roaming the streets looking for someone to burn.

Restrictions: Rowan (pictured in 2018) said he thinks people should be careful not to impose restrictions on what subjects comedians are allowed to joke about

Restrictions: Rowan (pictured in 2018) said he thinks people should be careful not to impose restrictions on what subjects comedians are allowed to joke about

“So it’s scary for anyone who falls victim to this mob and it fills me with fear for the future.”

He added: “It’s very nice that people want to connect with Mr Bean, but I have no desire to be on social media.” What happens there is a sideshow in my world.

His latest comments come as he is busy promoting his latest comedy Man Vs Bee, which premieres on Netflix on Friday.

In the ten-part series comprised of gripping ten-minute episodes, Rowan stars as Trevor, a man recruited by an agency to guard the house of wealthy strangers Christian and Nina.

But the presence of a bee in the luxury home drives him crazier and crazier, and after a succession of calamitous attempts to silence her end in absolute carnage, the bee buzzes towards Christian’s beloved Jag. .

Comedy: Rowan (pictured in Blackadder) has previously campaigned against laws that could limit free speech and offensive language

Comedy: Rowan (pictured in Blackadder) has previously campaigned against laws that could limit free speech and offensive language

“What begins as a minor inconvenience for Trevor becomes an obsession causing destruction on a grand scale,” Rowan told Daily Mail’s Weekend Magazine.

“The bee is the catalyst for Trevor to vandalize the house and the car, in various ways.”

Trevor is Rowan’s first new sitcom character since the pompous Inspector Raymond Fowler in the TSWT comedy The Thin Blue Line nearly 30 years ago, though it’s the creation that preceded it that invites the most the comparison.

The hapless jester Mr Bean has often found himself in the sort of wacky situations that Trevor faces, and Rowan acknowledged there was a similarity between the two.

“If I’m going to play a character without words – and Trevor doesn’t say much – you’re going to see something reminiscent of Mr Bean,” he said.

“There is going to be something that will remind you of him and there are aspects of the story that are reminiscent of the kind of trouble Mr Bean would find himself in.

“But Trevor is a more rounded character than Mr Bean, who was a two-dimensional, selfish anarchist. Trevor is more sympathetic, so I hope people will support him when he gets into more and more trouble.

The Blackadder star also admitted that he doesn’t really enjoy filming TV shows, but enjoys rehearsing and seeing the final product.

“If you think of a TV project as a sandwich, then I enjoy the bread but not the meat in the middle,” he admitted.

New venture: His latest comments come as he's busy promoting his latest comedy Man Vs Bee, which premieres on Netflix on Friday

New venture: His latest comments come as he’s busy promoting his latest comedy Man Vs Bee, which premieres on Netflix on Friday

“I love the rehearsal period, I love working on the script and I love the post-production. I relish the chance to get involved in sound mixing and editing.

“The filming part is horrible as far as I’m concerned, but it’s something you have to do to tell the story. The irony is that’s the part I’m supposed to be good at.

“But I’m playing a singular character, so the pressure is on me to make the show work. This is accompanied by considerable stress, which is not pleasant.

“Whatever I do, I always think I can do better. I felt that with every role I played, other than Blackadder, because there was a shared responsibility about that, so I felt like I carried the burden with the others.

Hilarious: In the ten-part series made up of gripping ten-minute episodes, Rowan stars as Trevor, a man recruited by an agency to guard the house of wealthy strangers Christian and Nina

Hilarious: In the ten-part series made up of gripping ten-minute episodes, Rowan stars as Trevor, a man recruited by an agency to guard the house of wealthy strangers Christian and Nina

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