Whenever a leading comedian releases a new special that includes jokes punching down on trans people, within hours a clip of James Acaster excoriating “edgy” comics goes viral on social media. It happens so often, sadly, it’s become a pattern.
The clip, taken from Acaster’s 2019 special Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999, sees the usually mild-mannered British comic satirizing “edgy” performers like Ricky Gervais and Dave Chappelle. “They say whatever they like, edgy comedians. No one tells them what they can and can’t say. They walk straight onstage, top of their specials sometimes, and do 10 solid minutes just slagging off transgender people,” Acaster says.
Acaster has rarely talked about the clip, but in an interview for The Independent, he was asked how he felt about the way the bit has been used to push back against trans bigotry. “Well, I’m definitely glad that the clip used is the clip in its entirety… It’s kept in context, so that’s great,” Acaster said adding that he wasn’t particularly bothered by the backlash he has faced from the more enthusiastic fans of Gervais and others. “I’m not seeing any of it, and also, I don’t mind,” says Acaster who doesn’t use social media. “If it’s people who disagree with that statement, then I don’t really mind if they’re getting angry about it or hating me,” he said.
Acaster added that he hoped that people didn’t look to him for commentary on trans issues in comedy. “It’s all well and good, my comedy routine about it, [but] people sometimes talk about it like it’s the thing that people keep on holding up in the argument,” he said.
He continued, “I know that the argument is one group of comedians saying this stuff and so people fire back with a clip of another comedian, and I get how that’s relevant, and I am specifically talking about them. But there are so many brilliant trans comedians working today, and many writers and think-pieces being written about the subject that are way more articulate and better than me wearing a pair of aviator sunglasses and a sunset jacket.”