HomeHealthThe controversial Holocaust joke that's threatening Jimmy Carr's career

The controversial Holocaust joke that’s threatening Jimmy Carr’s career

“This one should be able to end my career. Hold on,” warned comedian Jimmy Carr in his latest comedy special. “When people talk about the Holocaust…” Carr immediately breaks off the sentence mid-sentence, as if trying to evoke a reaction from the audience. We hear shy laughter and some anticipation. After all, making comedy with one of the greatest tragedies in modern history may be a red line for many.

“When people talk about the Holocaust,” Carr continues, “they talk about the tragedy and horror of six million Jewish lives lost to the Nazi war machine.” “But they never talk about the thousands of Gypsies who who were killed by the Nazis.”

“Nobody ever talks about it because nobody ever wants to talk about the positive things.” The joke was met with applause, shy laughter and other awkward silences. It took more than a month for the special released on Netflix in December — and this joke in particular — to spark widespread outrage.

“Disgusting” and “grotesque” were some of the words used by critics, including comedians, in a wave of criticism that swept Carr. One of the harshest criticisms came straight from Culture Minister Nadine Dorries, who even proposes creating new laws penalizing streaming platforms that host such content. In particular, he described the joke as “disgusting” and emphasized that statements of this kind “should not take place on television”.

Olivia Marks-Woldman, head of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, also publicly criticized Carr’s joke. “We are absolutely shocked by Jimmy Carr’s comments about the persecution of Roma and Sinti under Nazi oppression – and appalled by the laughter that followed his comments,” he wrote.

“Hundreds of thousands of Roma and Sinti [subgrupos da etnia cigana] suffered from prejudice, forced labour, sterilization and genocide simply because of their identity. These are not things to play with,” he says. “Ignorance of this recent past is widespread and needs to be addressed. We appeal to all to educate themselves about the past and current experiences of this people.”

Interestingly, Carr didn’t let the punchline be the end of the subject. The comedian also justified himself during the comedy special and immediately after the audience laughed. “That’s a good joke for three reasons: First, because he has a friggin’ joke, congratulations to me. Second, because it’s a joke about the worst thing that ever happened in history. People say ‘never forget’ and that’s what I do: talk about it all the time.”

However, there was a third reason: “The third reason this is a good joke is because it has educational quality. Everyone knows that six million Jews died in World War II,” he notes. “What many people don’t know, also because we are not taught, is that the Nazis also killed thousands of gypsies, homosexuals, disabled people and Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

Carr, of course, used this approach to lay the groundwork for the next joke, but he showed the intent of the joke even before the criticism tumbled. By the way, the comedy special is called “His Dark Material”, its darkest material, in free translation, which already gives an idea that it will be peppered with black humor as usual.

As if that wasn’t enough, Carr begins the special with an onstage warning. “Tonight’s show contains jokes about terrible things. Things that may have affected you or people you love. But these are just jokes. It’s not that terrible things.”

“There’s a huge difference between making a joke about rape and hurting someone. I hope. Otherwise I am in prison for the rest of my life.”

However, the comedian used a live show this Saturday, February 5, to offer his first reaction to the controversy. “Are you talking about the Holocaust?” one of the viewers shouted. “Let’s talk about abandonment culture, everything,” Carr replied.

“My friends, we are currently at the site of final opportunities. What I say on this stage is hardly acceptable nowadays. Forget that shit in ten years,” he said of the future of comedy. “I’m getting cancelled, that’s the bad news. The good news is I won’t go without a fight.”

The joke that sparks all the controversy is far from the first risky attempt by Carr, who usually brags about tackling potentially controversial issues. “The joke that’s ending my career is out there, on YouTube, on Netflix, wherever. And it’s all right until one day it’s all broken,” he noted.

That’s exactly the warning he reiterated during the His Dark Material special before launching the segment that “could end his career.” “I wrote some jokes that have the potential to end my career. I think it’s about time we got that attitude that I’ll be canceled at some point in the next few years, right?

“I will not go without a fight,” he declared. “I used to worry that I would make a joke so offensive it would put me out of a job, but that was my thinking like a snowflake of the liquid genre.”

“Nothing like that. You paid good money to see a daring comedian, right? I would be missed if I hadn’t given you this,” he said. “It’s not about offending people, it’s about making them laugh If I offend some people, that’s just a bonus.”

None of this comes as a surprise to anyone familiar with Jimmy Carr’s story and grappling with issues such as the Holocaust, AIDS, hunger or pedophilia. There’s a particular habit among the comedian’s fans of ranking the potentially most offensive jokes from Carr, who even voted for his favorite.

“If Africa had more mosquito nets, we could save millions of mosquitoes every year from dying needlessly from AIDS,” he declared in 2016 after being asked what the riskiest joke he had ever written was.

He returned to choose a new joke on a show “Being Funny” in 2011, with a punchline reserved for the ending. “How do you get a gay man to fuck a woman?” he asked. “They shit in her pussy.”

The recent approach to the Holocaust is nothing new, as he revealed earlier on stage in a joke that ended up not having the impact it has today. “They say it’s safer to go in a group. Tell that to six million Jews,” he joked. And he came back on the subject: “When I was at school, a kid was caught hitting you in the shower. It ruined the whole trip to Auschwitz.”


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