No one can tell us what not to laugh at

Ricky Gervais will always be associated with The Office, but it’s his three series of After Life that stand as his masterpiece.

I don’t believe you will find better writing in any genre and his own performance across 18 roughly half-hour episodes has revealed the sort of depth one would not usually associate with a comedy series.

For a man who by his own admission has not experienced the level of grief suffered by the show’s main character, Tony, it’s extraordinary that he has been able to create such an insightful account of the mechanics of bereavement.

The similarities between Tony and myself are certainly not lost on me and there are times where he could literally have been writing and directing from the inside of my head.

But just as importantly, After Life is a two-fingered salute to the puritanical claptrap being peddled by today’s cancel culture cronies.

The jokes and the entire attitude – along with liberal use of the c-word – carry the message that taking offence, while being anyone’s prerogative, doesn’t automatically make you right and the most outrageous moments (of which there are many) are an open invitation to wokers: go ahead, try it, I don’t care.

If humour with an edge is to survive the purge, we will have Ricky Gervais to thank for it.

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If someone you left to look after your place while you were away for a few days decided to throw a party (which happened to be the night before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral), would it be your fault?

And if someone at work surprised you on your birthday with a cake and a quick “Happy biiirthdaay priime ministerrrr…” would you expect to be pilloried in the media?

Being boss of the country doesn’t necessarily mean you have control over everything that goes on around you.

With so many genuinely disturbing things to bring Boris Johnson’s government to account over, the now almost daily claims of cheese, cakes and wine during lockdown smacks of desperation on the part of an opposition and a partisan media desperate to keep a story going and is utterly pathetic.

While all this silliness is going on, there’s a British mother sitting in an Iranian prison, there are British families barely able to feed their kids and fuel prices about to skyrocket.

That’s the stuff that needs to be prioritised and addressed right now, not how long you stood in a garden with a glass of white wine in your hand.

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This week’s column comes to you from isolation after I tested positive for the dreaded ‘cron along with my daughter and five-year old granddaughter.

We discovered on Sunday afternoon that someone in her class at school had it and a quick lateral flow test confirmed the worst. A PCR test the following day showed that mum was positive too and when the dry cough started on Tuesday, a PCR the following day confirmed my own positive test.

I think the girls have had it rougher than the old man. I still have my sense of taste and smell, my breathing is unaffected and apart from three or four days where I really didn’t want to do anything but feel sorry for myself, I don’t think I have much room for complaint, especially considering so many people haven’t made it out the other side since this all began.

Stupid TV quiz answer of the week:

Tipping Point

Q: Which chocolate covered Cadbury’s biscuit is named after the digits on a human hand?

A: Dominoes?

Also, who in their right mind would go on Tipping Point in shorts?

Martin from Yorkshire, what on earth were you thinking?

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Edward Case

Columnist