Jack Dee today defended fellow comedian Jimmy Carr after he sparked outrage with a joke about the travelling community being murdered during the Holocaust, declaring that his critics have ‘tried to make a storm out of very little’.
The funnyman, 60, appeared on Good Morning Britain on Monday, where he discussed the recent furore surrounding Jimmy’s His Dark Material’s gig.
Carr, 49, sparked criticism over a clip from his Netflix special, which saw him joke that the ‘thousands of gypsies killed by the Nazis’ was a ‘positive’ effect of the Holocaust.
It sparked a wave condemnation, including from the Prime Minister, and there were calls for a police investigation into Jimmy’s controversial gag.
But veteran comedian Jack Dee said he did not believe the state should intervene on ‘what can and can’t be said’, adding: ‘I think we’re sophisticated enough as an audience to discern what we want without calling the cops’.
He told GMB: ‘These things come round and they go. Jimmy set it up as an unacceptable thing to say. A month later someone got hold of it and tried to make a storm out of very little.
‘Do we want the state to intervene on what can be said or not said? I think we don’t want that’.
Opinion: Jack Dee has jumped to the defence of fellow comedian Jimmy Carr after he sparked outrage with a joke about the travelling community during the Holocaust
Debate: The funnyman, 60, appeared on Good Mornining Britain on Monday, where he discussed the recent furore surrounding Jimmy’s His Dark Material’s gig
Speaking of his own experience of near-cancellation, Jack revealed there was a joke he was specifically told not to say or he would never work in TV again, but he told it anyway.
Mr Dee said: ‘The Radio 4 audiences love that stuff, they’re not very offendable. I am probably one of the more risqué programmes that’s allowed to be out there.
‘I say what I want to say and that’s good. A live show is the right arena to do that stuff because the audience can immediately tell you if they like it or not. I’m not out there to shock anyone but I’m also not going to cotton wool what I say.
In a widely-shared clip from his Netflix show His Dark Material, he joked about the horror of the Holocaust and ‘six million Jewish lives being lost’.
Unimpressed: Jack said that he did not want the state to intervene on ‘what can and can’t be said’, following calls for a police investigation into Jimmy’s controversial gag
He told the hosts: ‘These things come round and they go. Jimmy set it up as an unacceptable thing to say. A month later someone got hold of it and tried to make a storm out of very little’
Risky: Speaking of his own experience of near-cancellation, Jack revealed there was a joke he was specifically told not to say or he would never work in TV again, but he told it anyway
As a punchline, he then made a disparaging remark about the deaths of thousands of gypsies at the hands of the Nazis.
‘But they never mention the thousands of gypsies that were killed by the Nazis. No one ever wants to talk about that, because no one ever wants to talk about the positives,’ Carr quipped to a laughing audience.
The audience had reacted with hoots of laughter to the clip of Mr Carr from ‘His Dark Material’ which was widely shared online.
Mr Carr then explained why he thought it was a ‘good joke’, saying that it was ‘f**king funny’, ‘edgy as all hell’ and because it had an ‘educational quality’.
But the joke has caused widespread backlash elsewhere and prompted a debate about racism and free speech.
Jimmy left the joke out of his live comedy show in Cambridge after the council said it would light up the venue in the colours of the Romani flag.
His management was said to have ‘assured’ Cambridge city councillors that no material from the show will feature at the gig at the Corn Exchange.
Cllr Anna Smith said: ‘I share the outrage felt by so many in Cambridge and beyond, regarding these unacceptable remarks. Genocide is not a subject for mockery.
Controversial: But the joke has caused widespread backlash elsewhere and prompted a debate about racism and free speech
‘As a council, we are committed to working with and supporting marginalized communities, including our Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.’
Cambridge City Council said that it would light up the outside of the Corn Exchange in the colours of the Romani flag – red, green and blue – ahead of Carr’s show.
It also announced plans to hand out leaflets to punters about historic and current racism to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people.
Cambridge Stand Up To Racism wrote on Facebook: ‘We need to inform him [Carr] that his vile racist jokes are not welcome in Cambridge.
‘Our GRT communities are being battered by our government and we can’t allow this further outrage to go by unmarked.’
David Baddiel, 57, was among swathes of other people to slam Mr Carr over the gag.
Mr Baddiel said: ‘You can obviously tell a Holocaust joke that is cruel and inhumane and mean-spirited and racist.
Offering his opinion: David Baddiel, 57, (pictured) was among swathes of other people to slam Mr Carr over the gag
‘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.’
Elsewhere, alongside Mr Baddiel, Irish traveller and bare-knuckle boxer Paddy Doherty condemned Mr Carr’s joke.
He said the ‘disgusting’ gag was an insult to the 1.5 million gypsies killed in death camps.
He told the Sunday Mirror: ‘He should be investigated by the police.
‘That wasn’t a joke. He’s talking about mass murder being a positive – would he be allowed to say this about black people killed by the Ku Klux Klan?
‘There’s a level you don’t go to. More than a million of my people were killed.’