A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
According to a knowledgeable source, Gervais had close to 100 jokes to pick from for his time onstage, but there’s one punchline that didn’t make the show.
During his much-buzzed-about exchange with Mel Gibson — six years after Gervais skewered Gibson for anti-Semitic comments he made during a DUI arrest in 2006 — Gervais said he was in the awkward position of having to introduce him and for that, “I blame NBC for this terrible situation.”
He was then set to deliver a one-word answer to the following quip: “We know who Mel blames.” That answer? “The Jews,” a source tells THR.
NBC execs overseeing the telecast nudged him to take it out, but he planned to say it, and it was seen on the teleprompter. In the moment, however, Gervais decided to let the audience speculate about the punchline instead, to gasps and laughter.