It was something of a coup for the Guildhall to entice Ricky Gervais to Portsmouth and tickets sold out so fast that a second date of his Humanity show was immediately added.
This is his first stand up tour for seven years. With small screen success, winning three Golden Globes and four stints presenting the show, this boy from a Reading council estate now has international recognition and the ability to offend his 12m Twitter followers with a single remark.
This show is designed to probe into the dark corners of acceptability and what makes a joke offensive or not; whether a subject is taboo or fair game. On the page the material would seem crass and some would say the same about the live airing of jokes about cot death, satanic rape and all the other areas that Gervais dares to probe in pursuit of the sweet spot between humour and horror.
He just about takes the audience with him. Despite his attempts to shock he’s generally given the benefit of the doubt and in many ways his argument is compelling – it’s not the subject that should be taboo but the target of the joke that should be carefully chosen.
On balance, laughter wins out over horror and after all, that’s what we all came to see and hear.