Ricky Gervais has hit back at critics of a controversial joke about drink-driving in his new stage act - insisting the gag is "justified comedically".
The British funnyman launched his new stand-up show, Science, in Scotland in August (09), but the routine caused a stir when a reviewer picked up on a punchline about the consequences of driving a car while drunk.
Now Gervais has spoken out to defend his craft - insisting that, although the joke is "a big taboo", the reviewer for U.K. newspaper The Independent misrepresented what was said and twisted its meaning.
In a posting on his blog, Gervais writes: "I do the following joke live when talking about the perils of drink-driving: 'I've done it once and I'm really ashamed of it. It was Christmas - I'd had a couple of drinks and I took the car out. But I learned my lesson. I nearly killed an old lady. In the end I didn't kill her. In the end, I just raped her.'
"The joke clearly revolves around the misdirection in the term "nearly killed", suggesting "narrowly avoided". But, as it turns out, "nearly killed" means something much, much worse. A big taboo I'll admit, but justified comedically I feel.
"This is how a journalist in The Independent recounted the joke: 'I nearly knocked this old woman over... but I didn't. I raped her.' He then went on to say how disgusting and unfunny that joke is. He's right. It is both disgusting and unfunny. But that's his joke, not mine. It's nothing like mine. It contains no joke at all. He has shown how qualified he is to talk about humour."