Letters: Jimmy Carr went beyond the boundaries of acceptable comedy with his Holocaust jokes

·5-min read
The comedian Jimmy Carr has been widely criticised for  Jimmy Carr for jokes about the Roma and gypsies killed in the Holocaust
The comedian Jimmy Carr has been widely criticised for Jimmy Carr for jokes about the Roma and gypsies killed in the Holocaust

WHAT do we want from our comedians and their humour?

We all have our particular likes and dislikes. Self-deprecatory humour is one area where the audience enjoys the deliverer of such lines poking fun at their own person and behaviour.

Les Dawson specialised in jokes about mothers-in law along with a variety of other harmless tropes which left his audience laughing innocently.

Then there is the humour of cruelty where the comedian makes jokes which denigrate the objects of their humour and evoke laughter from such mockery, allowing the audience to enjoy their sense of superiority. Such humour has its followers and deserves to be identified as sick.

Satire, which pokes fun at those who consider themselves of vital importance to the nation, is a vehicle intended to puncture the pomposity and the hypocrisies which betray the sense of self-importance of such personages. That type of humour is dangerous to the performers of this type of comedy where intolerance characterises the political regimes in power, but can thrive in liberal democracies.

Today we have the comedians who are determined to push the boundaries to shock their audiences into laughing at the outrageous concepts contained therein and then feeling guilty for having done so. Jimmy Carr looks to that aspect of humour and concentrates his attention upon finding a way to make his audience laugh at remarks which if delivered in print would shock and horrify.

His most recent joke about the victims of the Holocaust ("Campaigners slam Netflix as backlash grows over comedian’s Holocaust joke", The Herald, February 10) comes into that category and he defends his schtick by saying it was no more than just a joke. To my mind he went beyond the boundaries so far that he entered the comedy of cruelty; his target would then have allowed his audience to indulge their sense of superiority.

The question which has to be asked is whether there is any subject which should be off-limits for comedians and remain taboo.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.

HOUSING BOOM IN KILMARNOCK

IT was disappointing to see the thoughtless conclusions drawn by your reporter from a Rightmove report that Kilmarnock has experienced the slowest rate of house-price growth in Scotland over the last 10 years ("There may be a housing boom … it’s just forgotten Kilmarnock", The Herald, February 10). Even the headline to the article was misleading: there is a clear distinction between a house-price boom and a housing boom; indeed a housing boom may explain why there is no house-price boom.

Price tends to depend on the elementary principles of supply and demand and to conclude, solely on the basis there is no evidence of a significant rise in house prices, that "Killie is still not high up on the list of places Scots want to settle down in" ignores the impact of increased supply. There has been extensive building of new developments in Kilmarnock over the last 20 years or so, with most of the nation’s leading house-builders involved.

In March 2021 Scottish Housing News reported that Taylor Wimpey alone was completing 17 years of continuous investment which had produced 728 new homes. When account is taken of the additional contributions from past and current developments by Persimmon, Barratt, Bellway, Miller Homes and others your readers might even reasonably conclude that Kilmarnock enjoys a prominent position in the list of places where people (not just Scots) wish to settle down.

Campbell Fullarton, Kilmarnock.

* JUST to put the record right, Sir Alexander Fleming was born at Lochfield Farm, outside of Darvel in East Ayrshire, and not in Kilmarnock as your article suggests. Some more careful research would easily have revealed that fact.

Ian Craig, Strathaven.

CULTURE OF WIFELY INTERFERENCE

I QUITE often like to re-read the cutting I have from The Herald Arts Magazine, dated October 15, 2011. Yes, I know it is from a long time ago, but it provides some welcome escape from the perils surrounding us at present.

Sorley MacLean, the teacher and scholar of Gaelic culture born in 1911, was being celebrated, in that article in the magazine, by his son-in-law David Ross. It was penned with great tenderness and humour. Today's reading brought to light, more than usual, the words of the Chinese Professor Wang of Beijing, who while sitting in front of Sorley's great roaring fire at his home in Braes, Portree, opined, on the Cultural Revolution, that Chou en-lai (Zhou Enlai) had been "the father of his people" while Mao Tse-tung (Mao Zedong) had been "the epoch-maker". Unfortunately, we learn, that Mao "had made some mistakes ... the Cultural Revolution for one, which had supported the old adage about not letting your wife interfere with your business". The fourth Madame Mao (Jiang Qing) had influenced affairs of state and gained a seat on the Politburo. Are we now experiencing another leader, the British Prime Minister, allowing womanly interference?

A wee afterthought on Primark's sexist t-shirt slogans ("Primark's sexist sloganeering for girls is so tiresome", Rosemary Goring, The Herald, February 9). What, I wonder, is stopping girls from buying the ones with the more masculine slogans and the boys, if they really want to, buying the ones with the feminist slogans? There are surely sizes to fit with both.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.

FOOTBALLERS SHOULD BE LICENSED

RECENT reports on the dreadful behaviour of professional football players ("RSPCA takes player’s cats after kicking film", The Herald, February 10) advance the case for the introduction of a "licence to play" system that would mean exclusion from professional football for a fixed period or life for serious breaches of behaviour.

It seems that the massive salaries being paid to professional football players brings out the worst of behaviour in some.

Dennis Forbes Grattan, Aberdeen.

THE ROGUES OF PARCELS

Q: When is a parcel delivery not a parcel delivery?

A: When the same nationwide parcel delivery company on successive showery days leaves a parcel outside the security entrance to my small block of flats and disregards the clearly numbered bell.

R Russell Smith, Largs.

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