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Jimmy Carr is facing further criticism after it emerged that he joked about the deaths of six millions Jews in the Holocaust.
The comedian has faced a barrage of uproar in recent days over a clip from his Netflix special which saw him joke that the ‘thousands of gypsies killed by the Nazis’ was a ‘positive’ consequence of the Holocaust.
On Tuesday, he was pictured for the first time since the row broke out. He was seen leaving his London home for a gig at the Grove Theatre in Dunstable, Bedfordshire.
It has now emerged that months before his Netflix show was broadcast, Carr, 49, insisted in his bestselling book that, as ‘an act of defiance’, it was acceptable to laugh at the mass murder perpetrated by the Nazis.
He wrote in Before & Laughter, which was released in September last year: ‘People will laugh in the most stressful and hopeless situations.
‘During the Holocaust, prisoners held in concentration camps found ways to secretly tell jokes and share stories.
‘And they laughed. Laughing gave them some control and reminded them of their humanity. It helped them cope.’
Later in the book, he referenced the 1997 Oscar-winning film Life is Beautiful, which is about an Italian father and son who are sent to a Nazi concentration camp.
Carr said: ‘How could they make a Holocaust movie that was funny? Well, because that s*** happened. And I think it’s okay to joke about the Holocaust.’
He added: ‘They say there’s safety in numbers. Tell that to six million Jews.’
Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, told the Evening Standard in response to the words in the book that the comedian’s jokes ‘dehumanise people’.
‘Jimmy Carr is right that people in the Holocaust concentration camps tried to assert their humanity in a variety of ways, in the face of propaganda and policies that deliberately sought to dehumanise them,’ she said.
‘But Carr’s “jokes” certainly do not humanise, nor are they funny or joyful, as he has claimed. They dehumanise people and perpetuate prejudice.’
Protesters outside the Grove Theatre on Tuesday delayed Carr’s show by nearly an hour after campaigners demanded that venues hosting the comic on his Terribly Funny Tour de-platform him.
In the Netflix footage, the 8 Out of 10 Cats presenter said: ‘When people talk about the Holocaust, they talk about the tragedy and horror of six million Jewish lives being lost to the Nazi war machine. But they never mention the thousands of gypsies that were killed by the Nazis. No one ever talks about that because no one wants to talk about the positives.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman yesterday branded the joke ‘unacceptable’, while Health Secretary Sajid Javid urged people to boycott the one-hour special.
‘Obviously, those comments are deeply disturbing and it is unacceptable to make light of genocide,’ Mr Johnson’s spokesman said. They said ‘mocking the atrocities of the Holocaust is unacceptable’ but that it is a matter for Netflix when it comes to whether or not the special should be removed.
The spokesman added: ‘We are looking at toughening measures for social media and streaming platforms which don’t tackle harmful content on their platforms. We are looking at regulatory changes for streaming companies. We are clear that any change in legislation needs to be proportionate, to ensure freedom of speech within the law is not stifled.’
Meanwhile a petition called ‘The Genocide of Roma is Not a Laughing Matter’ has been signed by more than 15,000 people. Gypsy leaders also invited the stand up performer to Auschwitz to remember the genocide later this year.
It comes as Dame Melanie Dawes, head of media watchdog Ofcom, said she would ‘welcome’ the chance to regulate Netflix and other streaming services.
Jimmy Carr has been pictured for the first time since a furious row broke out over his Holocaust joke about gypsies
Carr, 49, was seen leaving his London home this evening amid a storm over a clip from his Netflix special, His Dark Material, which saw him joke that the ‘thousands of gypsies killed by the Nazis’ was a ‘positive’ consequence of the Holocaust
Carr has been pictured for the first time since a furious row broke out over his ‘disturbing’ Holocaust joke about gypsies
Protesters outside the theatre managed to delay Carr’s show by nearly an hour after campaigners demanded that venues hosting the comic on his Terribly Funny Tour de-platform him
Police were called to the venue following a small protest against Carr over his Holocaust joke
In the footage, the 8 Out of 10 Cats presenter says: ‘When people talk about the Holocaust, they talk about the tragedy and horror of six million Jewish lives being lost to the Nazi war machine. But they never mention the thousands of gypsies that were killed by the Nazis. No one ever talks about that because no one wants to talk about the positives’
A petition, labelled ‘The Genocide of Roma is Not a Laughing Matter’, has been signed by more than 15,000 people
Jimmy Carr’s Terribly Funny Tour… where is he performing this month?
- February 8: Dunstable
- February 10: Southend
- February 11: Liverpool
- February 12: Cheltenham
- February 13: London
- February 16: Cambridge
- February 19: London
- February 20: Southampton
- February 25: Rhyl
- February 26: Leicester
- February 27: Bromley
She said: ‘It’s really confusing that they’ve got different standards applied, for example, to Channel 4 News than they have to YouTube and other services, including Netflix, that come streamed on to our TVs.’
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries previously suggested new laws via the Media Bill could hold to account streaming sites for airing jokes such as those made by Carr.
Anti-hate groups such as the not-for-profit organisation Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and The Auschwitz Memorial have condemned the comedian for the joke.
The Traveller Movement, a charity supporting the traveller community in the UK, has also launched a petition calling for Netflix to remove the segment of the programme ‘which celebrates the Romani genocide’. It said the joke in question was ‘truly disturbing and goes way beyond humour’.
On Monday morning, Mr Javid told Times Radio the joke was ‘horrid’. He added: ‘I think we all have a right to react to that, and one of the best ways anyone can react to that is show these platforms what they think about Jimmy Carr by not watching or listening to him, and that will send him a very strong message.’
Martin Docherty-Hughes, SNP MP for West Dunbartonshire, said he was ‘utterly dumbfounded’ by Carr using the Holocaust to ‘poke fun at one of the most marginalised groups in these islands, the Roma and Gypsy community’.
He suggested the House of Commons should have an opportunity to hold a debate to recognise the ‘value and worth’ of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community across the UK and to ‘raise them up, not to put them down’.
Carr issued a ‘trigger warning’ to the audience at the beginning of his Netflix special and told viewers it contained ‘terrible things’.
According to The Mirror, he appeared to address the controversy during a performance at the Whitley Bay Playhouse on Saturday night. Discussing so-called cancel culture, he told the audience: ‘The joke that ends my career is already out there.’
Theatres set to host Carr’s tour also saw the heat intensify last night from Traveller campaign groups.
The Luton Roma Trust called for The Grove Theatre to ensure the ‘gross racial slur’ would not be repeated.
It said: ‘We appreciate that comedy is subjective but in our view when punchlines are indistinguishable from the genuinely held views of fascists and neo-Nazis, a line has very clearly been crossed.’ It also called for Carr to apologise and for Netflix to strip the segment out of the comedy special.
Carr, 49, was seen leaving his London home this evening for a gig at the Grove Theatre in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, amid a storm over a clip from his Netflix special which saw him joke that the ‘thousands of gypsies killed by the Nazis’ was a ‘positive’ consequence of the Holocaust
Anti-hate groups such as the not-for-profit organisation Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and The Auschwitz Memorial have condemned the comedian for the joke
Local campaign groups are weighing up plans for a protest at theatres set to hosting the comedian. Sherrie Smith, from Gypsies and Travellers Essex, told the Times: ‘We should be looking at Channel 4, all the theatres that endorse Jimmy Carr and everybody who he works next to. We need to look at why he did this.’
Gypsy leaders called on Carr to join them at Auschwitz when they visit to remember the Holocaust on August 2, the date in 1944 when 4,000 Roma were killed.
Spokesman for the UK’s Roma Billy Welch said if the comedian and presenter went he may ‘appreciate the hurt and fear he has stirred up’.
He told the Mirror: ‘His so-called joke was so offensive because there are many still living who witnessed the brutality of what happened, and many more who lost families in barbarous murders.’
The petition states: ‘In Netflix comedy special ‘His Dark Material’, Jimmy Carr ‘jokes’ that the Romani and Sinti genocide is ignored when people discuss the Holocaust because people don’t want to ‘focus on the positives’. This is nothing short of a celebration of genocide.
‘We appreciate that comedy is subjective but in our view when punchlines are indistinguishable from the genuinely-held views of fascists and Neo-Nazis, a line has very clearly been crossed.
‘We acknowledge that Jimmy Carr highlighted the widespread ignorance that exists with regard to non-Jewish victims of the holocaust, but it was nevertheless incredibly crass for him to claim his ‘joke’ therefore had an ‘educational quality’.
‘If this was the case he would have used his considerable platform to raise awareness of Roma Holocaust Memorial Day to his 6.7m followers. To our knowledge, that has never happened. That speaks volumes.
‘There is no legitimate basis for this ‘joke’, and no positive to its inclusion which outweighs the profoundly negative impact it produces.’
It is estimated between 200,000 and 500,000 Roma and Sinti people were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
Comedian David Baddiel, a close friend of Carr, also criticised him over the joke, describing it as ‘mean-spirited’ and ‘cruel’.
He said: ‘You can obviously tell a Holocaust joke that is cruel and inhumane and mean-spirited and racist. Or you can tell one that targets the oppressors, or draws attention to the fundamental evil of it, or shines and light on the humanity of the victims.
‘It’s not the subject matter of the joke that counts, it’s the specifics of the individual joke. Clearly, Jimmy Carr’s was the former.’