RICKY Gervais has beefed up his team of private security guards following Sir Salman Rushdie’s stabbing to ensure no one can reach him on stage.
The 61-year-old comedian performed a series of intimate shows at London’s Leicester Square Theater to try out some new tunes ahead of his upcoming tour and Netflix special Armageddon.
But the concerned star added more members to the small team last week following the stabbing attack on Rushdie in the United States.
The 75-year-old writer was stabbed at a conference in New York state on August 12 and left with a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and eye.
It came after American stand-up artist Dave Chappelle, 48, was also attacked on stage by a knife-wielding man in Los Angeles in May.
Ricky came under fire earlier this year when he made controversial jokes about transgender people on his Netflix show SuperNature, with US LGBTQ rights group Glaad calling him “dangerous”.
A source said: “Ricky isn’t taking any chances. He’s employed his own security guards for the concerts so he can laugh and relax knowing he’s safe.
“He wasted no expense. They are the real deal and are positioned in the aisles and around the stage, keeping a watchful eye on audience members.
“The venue also does a lot for general safety as members of the public must be searched before entry and no glasses or bottles should be served by the venue. It seems like everyone is taking precautions. It is necessary in these times.
Ricky, who lives in Hampstead, north-west London, with his partner Jane Fallon, 61, said he still had 20 minutes of the next show to finalise, meaning he will not be returning to the life-size stadiums.
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He tweeted this week: “After about 40 new material #Armageddon nights, I have about 45 minutes I’m really happy with. I need at least another 20 before I start putting full price gigs on sale. .
Speaking about the controversy over his previous stand-up routine, the Afterlife and Office creator said: “It was a big backlash.
“Everyone was really mad at me with people saying you can’t say that – but I can, I did. Yes, I did.
“And then it became the most-watched special of the year, so I learned the lesson!”
Hadi Matar, 24, was arrested for the Rushdie attack and denied any attempted murder.