Comedy is meant to offend, says Rowan Atkinson

The Mr Bean star says ‘every joke has a victim’

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Comedy legend Rowan Atkinson has defended comics, saying “the job of comedy is to offend”.

The actor, known for his roles as Mr Bean, Blackadder and Johnny English, criticised cancel culture and said “you should be allowed to make jokes about absolutely anything”.

Comedy is meant to offend, says Rowan Atkinson
Comedy is meant to offend, says Rowan Atkinson

Speaking to The Irish Times, Rowan Atkinson said:

“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.”

“In a proper free society, you should be allowed to make jokes about absolutely anything.”

Speaking to GQ about the art of performing, Atkinson described tragedy and comedy as “extremely close bedfellows, and you can’t really have one without the other”.

Comedy is meant to offend, says Rowan Atkinson
Comedy is meant to offend, says Rowan Atkinson

He added: “Every joke has a victim, whether fictional or non-fictional or notional, ideological or human and, therefore, there’s always someone suffering if there’s a joke.

“I suppose you have to accept that’s the way it is.”

It is not the first time Rowan Atkinson has spoken out about cancel culture, having previously have signed a letter expressing opposition to the Scottish Government’s Hate Crime Bill.

He also defended Boris Johnson for controversial comments he made about women wearing burkas.

In the article, the Prime Minister said he felt “fully entitled” to expect women to remove face coverings when talking to him at his MP’s surgery.

He said schools and universities should be able to take the same approach if a student “turns up … looking like a bank robber”.

At the height of the row, Mr Johnson won support from Rowan Atkinson, who said the PM had made a “pretty good” joke and insisted it was pointless to apologise for joking about religion as it always causes offence.