The line between edgy comedy and inflammatory vitriol has never been blurrier, and not all jokes are made equal (or more fraught with danger).
As a result, most comedians try to tread a fine line between what is and isn’t appropriate to mock. Jimmy Carr is a British-Irish comedian known for his deadpan delivery style and crude observational humor. Carr is most known for his part in the British television show “8 out of 10 Cats,” which parodies statistics and polls, but he also enjoys touring and performing stand-up specials.
Carr’s Christmas special, “His Dark Material,” was recently published on Netflix (not to be confused with the book and television series involving golden compasses and talking polar bears). While fans of Carr’s brand will undoubtedly like this special, it is stirring some criticism. Here’s why Nick Carr’s new Netflix program has sparked such controversy. Warning: There’s one extremely edgy joke at the end of it all.
Jimmy Carr’s Holocaust joke isn’t for everybody
According to the BBC, the comedian’s criticism stems from a joke he said during “His Dark Material” about the Holocaust and the utter devastation of Roma, Sinti, and other nomadic communities, which he remarked was a “net positive.” Yikes. This was met with almost immediate outrage, with a statement from the British Prime Minister’s spokeswoman saying that it was unacceptable for anyone to make light of genocide and that the government would take additional efforts to ensure streaming providers were held accountable (via BBC).
According to Greg Sposton, a campaign manager for the Traveller Movement, which represents Roma and other ethnic nomad groups, “A line has been crossed when the punchline of a joke is indistinguishable from the sincerely held convictions of Nazis and fascists. There is only one possible interpretation: the genocide of the Roma and Sinti people was beneficial. It’s been suggested that it’s hate speech by others. Accountability is something we want to see.
We want Jimmy to apologize to the community and accept responsibility for the harm and offense he has caused.”
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Carr defended his joke, saying (as reported by The Guardian), “There is an educational component to it. During World War II, 6 million Jews perished at the hands of the Nazis, as everyone in the room knows. However, many people are unaware that the Nazis also murdered thousands of Gypsies, homosexuals, disabled persons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, due to a lack of education in our schools.”
It’s unclear what Carr was trying to teach with his claim that genocide could be a net gain, and no sincere apologies appear to be forthcoming.