James Corden says he ‘inadvertently’ told Ricky Gervais’ ‘brilliant’ Twitter joke

Comedians James Corden, left, and Ricky Gervais.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times; Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

James Corden recognized he was in the wrong — again — but this time to fellow comedian Ricky Gervais for “inadvertently” telling one of Gervais’ jokes about Twitter on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” on Monday.

The embattled late-night host, 44, took to Twitter on Tuesday to seemingly apologize after Gervais brought the bit to the attention of his 15 million followers.

“The bit about the town square advert for guitar lessons is brilliant,” Gervais, 61, tweeted about the younger comic’s retelling of his joke.


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According to CNN‘s transcript, the joke, as told by Corden, went like this: “When you see Elon Musk talk about Twitter he does this thing where he goes, ‘Well, it’s the town square. But it isn’t because if someone puts up a poster in a town square that says ‘guitar lessons available,’ like you don’t get people in the town going ‘I don’t want to play the guitar! I want to play the piano, you piece of s—!’ Well then that sign wasn’t for you, it was for somebody else. You don’t have to get mad about all of it.”

The substance of the bit is nearly identical to one that Gervais tells in his 2018 stand-up special, “Humanity” on Netflix, although the delivery is slightly different. (You can hear the joke here at the 1:06:00 mark.) The firebrand comic spends a large portion of the special discussing Twitter and how users take things personally on the platform.

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“They can be following me without choosing to read my tweet and then take that personally. That’s like going into a town square, seeing a big notice board and there’s a notice for guitar lessons and you go, ‘But I don’t f—ing want guitar lessons,’” quips “The Office” star, mimicking someone calling a phone number to complain. “Fine! It’s not for you then. Just walk away. Don’t worry about it.”

Gervais’ original tweet bearing Corden’s “Late Late Show” clip has since been deleted but the replies remain. When a Twitter user asked Gervais if Corden asked to use the joke, Gervais said no.

“I reckon one of the writers ‘came up with it’ for him,” he replied. “I doubt he would knowingly just copy such a famous stand up routine word for word like that.”


On Tuesday, Corden issued an apology through “The Late Late Show’s” Twitter account and attempted to plug his colleague’s work.

“Inadvertently told a brilliant Ricky Gervais joke on the show last night, obviously not knowing it came from him. It’s brilliant, because it’s a Ricky Gervais joke. You can watch all Ricky’s excellent specials on Netflix. J x,” the tweet said.

The “Cats” and “Prom” star has also been embroiled in an egg-slinging war of words with Balthazar restaurateur Keith McNally, who last month banned Corden from his popular New York City eatery and characterized the comic as “a tiny cretin of a man.”

Corden, who will end his hosting stint on CBS’ “Late Late Show” next year, has apologized for being “ungracious” to McNally’s waitstaff but has become mired in controversy in the process.