Comedians are known for pushing the limit in their material; at times it seems like no one is immune from being the butt of their punch lines. Last week on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, comedian Ricky Gervais obtusely joked about airplane passengers with nut allergies.
FARE condemns the remarks made by Gervais, which included the misinformed notion that a person in anaphylaxis will “blow up like a big frog.” In reality, the symptoms are more frightening than they are funny: difficulty breathing, vomiting, loss of consciousness or even death.
He also joked about rubbing his skin with nuts before boarding a flight in order to induce an allergic reaction in passengers with nut allergies. In a time when thousands of families with food allergies are fighting for accommodations that will allow them to fly safely, and when FARE is working to improve the federal requirements regarding airline policies, this rhetoric is particularly out of touch.
While FARE recognizes that comedy is meant to provoke its audience through controversial topics, we cannot stand for anaphylaxis being an object of ridicule.
The actions of the uneducated few will not distract us from the millions who are learning, helping, and supporting those with food allergies. We encourage Mr. Gervais and The Tonight Show to learn the facts about anaphylaxis and use their public platforms to raise awareness, rather than bully and spread misinformation. Food allergies are not a joke.
FARE has spoken out about the portrayal of food allergies in the media on more than one occasion. To view these statements, see below: