Political satirist Stephen Colbert mocked Oscar winning actor Jeremy Irons for comments made earlier this week suggesting that fathers might marry their sons in order to avoid inheritance tax, if equal marriage were made legal.

Irons, 64, made the comments to the Huffington Post’s TV channel earlier this week. “Could a father not marry his son?” Irons asked host Josh Zepps.

When reminded about laws preventing incest, the Oscar-winner replied: “It’s not incest between men”, because “incest is there to protect us from inbreeding, but men don’t breed.”

The political satirist jokingly defended Irons for his comments during his show the Colbert Report, and poked fun at the actor, playing clips of the interview in whch he asked the question.

Colbert said: “So, if gay marriage was legalised in England, Jeremy Irons’ son Max, get ready to make your father the happiest man alive. I mean, after all you’ve been together for 27 years. It’s time to put a ring on it.

“Naturally, Jeremy Irons saying gay marriage could leave to father-son marriage has ruffled some feather boas in the liberal media.”

Colbert then played a clip of Irons saying that he was a happily married man, and is happy that he has his dog, a lifelong companion, and says that sex is not important.

“See, he’s cool with whatever – A sexless marriage to a wife, a sex-filled marriage to a dog. They’re all equally fantastic. And none of his comments are offnensive.”

Colbert then joked that because Irons said “I don’t have a strong feeling either way”, that means what he said before it shouldn’t be taken as offensive.

He went on to joke that if women were given equal pay, “what’s to stop a man from dressing up as a woman to get equal pay. I mean insurance wise, it’s a nightmare.”

Alan Cumming, 48, who entered into a civil partnership with his husband in London in 2007 and then married him in New York last year, also criticsed Irons for the comments, tweeting: “I hate when people say they don’t have strong feelings about something then proceed to spew offensive and ignorant ones. Jeremy Irons.”

Ruth Hunt from gay rights charity Stonewall branded the actor’s remarks “bizarre” and referenced his role as a corrupt Pope in TV show The Borgias. She said: “Few people will agree with Jeremy Irons’ bizarre ‘concerns’ about equal marriage. Sadly his comments do seem to indicate he’s taken his role as a Pope in The Borgias a little too seriously.”

Meanwhile, journalist and LGBT campaigner Patrick Strudwick tweeted: “Jeremy Irons thinks gay marriage would ‘debase’ it and lead to fathers marrying their sons. Cretin.”