I just watched Ricky Gervais’s intro to The Golden Globe awards, and despite laughing faces – Robert Deniro loved the one about Hugh Hefner – the unease in the room became palpable. Was he really pulled half way through the show though? It’s clearly a time to get together and honour the worthies, not to mention cow-towing to the money moguls, but it shows what you can and cannot say in America, what people think, but won’t talk about in public, and perhaps who become ‘the untouchables’. The climate has changed, since ten years ago it probably wouldn’t have happened, but it reflects another big gulf in what people are allowed to say, here and there, while a comic’s job is to have a go at sacred cows, and simply to make people laugh. Ricky Gervais did make them laugh, although his Mel Gibson Jewish reference fell flat as a pancake. The biggest no-no in the States at such occasions is probably still sex though, despite the recent appearance of their ‘roasts’, or the mouth on ‘The Rock’, so Gervais certainly offended the Neon Gods of propriety there, but the very funny and very clever black American comic Reginald D Hunter is always saying he loves working in Britain, because it is so much harder to really insult or shock an audience. Then our notions of respect and propriety are still worlds apart.

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