They think it’s a bald-faced lie.
Comedian Ricky Gervais sparked ire among the alopecia community after mocking people who allegedly labeled Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair loss a “disability” in the wake of Chris Rock’s controversial Oscars gag. He uploaded a clip of his reaction to Twitter on April 3, but reposted it Tuesday to TikTok, where it boasts 7.5 million views.
“That was like the tamest joke I would’ve ever told,” the UK comic, 60, scoffed on camera regarding Rock’s joke.
Gervais, for one, thought they were overreacting, claiming incredulously, “Someone said it was joking about her disability.”
“Well I’m going a bit thin, I’m disabled,” “The Office” mastermind mocked while pointing at his head. “I can park right up next to Tesco’s now [in disabled parking].”
“I’m fat, that’s a disease. I’m fat and balding,” he snarked before collapsing into laughter. The comments came several days after Bill Maher joked on his show that Pinkett Smith should “thank God” that alopecia is the worst she’s dealing with.
The “After Life” creator was defending Rock’s controversial joke at the Oscars, in which the comedian, 47, cracked a “bald” joke about Pinkett Smith, who has been open about her ongoing battle with alopecia. In response, Smith, 53, who won the Best Actor Oscar later that evening for his work in “King Richard,” strolled onto the stage and slapped Rock across the face — before taking a seat and warning the stunned presenter to “keep my wife’s name out of your f–king mouth.”
The comic’s barb also touched off a firestorm of criticism among social media users, who accused Rock of joking at the expense of someone’s medical condition.
Elsewhere in the video, Gervais chastised Smith for responding to jokes with violence, saying: “You don’t hit someone over a joke, however bad it is — and it wasn’t bad.”
Needless to say, many critics thought that the funnyman’s alopecia argument had some bald spots.
“I agree Will shouldn’t have slapped Chris but you need to understand how emotionally important a woman’s hair is; it is devastating to lose it,” claimed one TikTok follower.
Another wrote, “I have alopecia and it is not a disability, at the same time it shouldn’t really be joked about because you never know how it will impact the person.”
“I don’t know if alopecia is or isn’t disabling for a person that has it,” wrote one critic on Twitter. “I just know that Ricky Gervais doesn’t get to make that decision.”
However, others defended the comic’s statement, with one fan writing, “I have alopecia & if someone said it was a disability to me that would offend me more than a ‘G.I. Jane’ joke.”
“I will never not love Ricky he says what we all are thinking,” said another.
One Twitter defender even reposted a clip from the comedian’s appearance on “The View,” in which he utters the immortal line: “Just because you’re offended, doesn’t mean you’re right.”
According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, “Alopecia areata is not medically disabling; persons with alopecia areata are usually in excellent health. But emotionally, this disease can be challenging, especially for those with extensive hair loss.”
This isn’t the first time Gervais has weighed in on Rock’s Oscars joke. In a comedy set earlier this month, the Brit-wit claimed that if he had hosted the 2022 Oscars, he would’ve targeted Pinkett Smith’s “open relationship” and not her alopecia.
“I would not have made a joke about his wife’s hair,” the comic quipped. “I would have made a joke about her boyfriend.”
The comedian was likely referring to 50-year-old Pinkett Smith’s “entanglement” with much younger R&B singer August Alsina, 29, who claimed he had an intense affair with the actress. After years of rumors flying around about what had actually gone down, Smith admitted last September that he and his wife were in an open relationship.
This came a week after Gervais, in response to a popular fan request, provided a preview of his would-be Oscars speech on Twitter.
“I’d start with ‘Hello. I hope this show helps cheer up the ordinary people watching at home,’ ” sniped the stand-up, who’s emceed the Golden Globes five times but never the Academy Awards. “’If you’re unemployed for example, take some comfort in the fact that even if you had a job, your salary probably wouldn’t be as much as the goody bag all the actors have just been given.’”