Ricky Gervais Explains How He Negotiated Judi Dench Golden Globes Joke

Ricky Gervais - Getty - H 2020
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While executives and lawyers approved jokes about ISIS, sweatshops and pedophilia, Gervais said Monday on NBC's 'Late Night With Seth Meyers' that "the big discussion was the riff on the movie 'Cats.'"

On Monday's installment of NBC's Late Night With Seth Meyers, Ricky Gervais told the host how he negotiated his memorable joke targeted at Judi Dench's role in Cats while hosting the 2020 Golden Globes.

The comedian said that he didn't spend much time preparing for the emcee gig. "I don't rehearse or anything like that, but I do have to show it to a lawyer just to make sure that I don't break the law or libel anyone or break taste and decency," Gervais explained of the jokes he wrote for the show. "And I never have. I've always read it to a lawyer an hour before and they’ve gone, 'Yeah, that's fine.'"

Before the 2020 awards show, Gervais had a meeting with 15 lawyers. "I don't know if that was they're getting more nervous about me or the times have changed," he said. "Obviously networks are very nervous, and this is primetime."

"So I do the monologue. It's a tough crowd — 15 executives and some lawyers, right? But I do it and it's fine," he recalled. The executives and lawyers approved jokes about ISIS, sweatshops and pedophilia, yet "the big discussion was the riff on the movie Cats."

During the kudocast, Gervais said that Dench's appearance in Cats "was the role she was born to play — because she loves nothing better than getting down on the carpet, lifting up her leg and licking her own minge."

The lawyers took issue with the use of the word "minge," though Gervais explained that it's a "cute" British term. "It's not offensive at all. It's not a swear word," he said. "They went, 'Oh, okay.' And then one of them looked it up and said, 'It says vulgar term for vagina."'

Gervais argued that "all slang is a vulgar term." The lawyers suggested that Gervais say "vagina" instead. "I went, 'I'm not gonna say vagina. That's worse! That's so clinical about Dame Judi Dench,'" he said. "And he went, 'I take it back.'"

The group went through all of the words Gervais could use instead of "minge." He added, "All I'm trying to do is get them not to bleep it, 'cause it sort of ruins it. So I persuaded them that 'minge' was fine, okay?"

"We settled on 'minge' and they said that they wouldn't bleep it and they still did," Gervais said. "But I knew they would, so I pointed."

Watch the comedian's appearance, below.