'After Life' viewers criticise Ricky Gervais for 'lazy' use of old jokes

Tom Beasley
Contributor
Comedian Ricky Gervais attends the ‘After Life’ For Your Consideration Event at Paley Center For Media on March 07, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images)

Eagle-eyed viewers of Ricky Gervais’s new darkly comic Netflix series After Life have spotted some recycled jokes from the comedian’s previous stand-up and podcast work.

All six episodes of After Life, in which Gervais plays a man struggling with grief after the death of his wife, debuted via Netflix on Friday, March 8.

Read more: Gervais defends ‘suicidal’ plotline

Since then, social media users have been commenting on the episodes, with several pointing out jokes they had heard before from the 57-year-old comic.

In particular, multiple viewers noted that a joke in the first episode about a 93-year-old woman being “scarred for life” was very similar to a routine performed in his 2004 stand-up show Politics.

The routine tells the story of a friend named Pete, who bought a newspaper bearing an image of an elderly woman who had been beaten and mugged from an old lady in a kiosk.

Read more: First look at After Life

He said: “The old lady, just making conversation – she probably said it to everyone who came in that day – she went to Pete: ‘It’s awful, isn’t it?’ And he went: ‘Yeah.’ ‘Yeah, she’s 93. Scarred for life.’ But you leave it, don’t you? Pete went: ‘Well, that’s not scarred for life then, is it?’ She went: ‘What?’ ‘You scar a baby for life, don’t you? If she lives till she’s 100, she’s only been scarred for 7% of her life.’ He did the maths for her!”

Ricky Gervais’s new Netflix show ‘After Life’ has been criticised for reusing jokes from the comedian’s back catalogue. (Credit: Netflix)

In After Life, Gervais’s character Tony buys a newspaper with a similar headline from a woman, who comments that the victim has been scarred for life.

Tony replies: “Hardly scarred for life. She’s 93. If she lives to 100, she’s only been scarred for seven per cent of her life.”




Other viewers noted that a proverb recited in the programme was previously mentioned by Stephen Merchant on an episode of The Ricky Gervais Guide To… on which he appeared alongside his long-time collaborator.

Read more: Watch the trailer for After Life

In After Life, Tony uses the Greek proverb “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in,” which fans have noted was previously used by Merchant.

One viewer said that, although they enjoyed the show, it was “not his finest hour”.



Another viewer, however, took to Twitter and described the use of the proverb as a “lovely call back” to the comedian’s previous work.


After Life has received generally positive reviews, with a 68% approval score on aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

Gervais has said he is keen to start work on a potential second series of the show.