CAN JEWS MAKE JOKES ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST?
David Schneider, comedian
“I think there’s no subject that is offlimits for comedy, as long as it’s targeted correctly. The Holocaust is the ultimate test case. The victims, the survivors, they made and make jokes about what they went through. I’ve also used the subject for humour because, as a firstgeneration son of a survivor, it’s so defining for who I am.
Humour can bring people together, it can be a weapon for the powerless, as long as you’re sharing your experience and “punching up” (ie against those in power) as opposed to punching down (against the victims). In that case it can be a wonderful, liberating thing and we shouldn’t be scared to go there.”
Jemma Wayne, author “Anything that is taboo simmers beneath the consciousness and grows in the dark. “Talking, writing, exploring — these are the ways that we escape the darkness. Joking? Isn’t it just the same thing in another guise? Another — and powerful — way to thrust light into the shadowy recesses?
“Of course there’s a difference between hatedriven jokes, and those that simply push the edges of what is comfortable.
“When we laugh at the latter, I don’t think that exposes a sinister personality quirk, but a deep need to address the forbidden.”
Ivor Baddiel, writer
“I think comedy is just as legitimate an art form as any other to tackle issues such as the Holocaust. The problem is that in comedy one’s first response is laughter, and often this is confusing for people, but as long as the joke is thought-provoking, intelligent and challenging, and not gratuitous, denigrating or simply trying to shock, then yes, it is acceptable and justifiable.”
Bennett Arron, comedian
“I have a big problem with Holocaust jokes. I don’t believe the adage that ‘anything can be a subject for comedy’.
“With most jokes which have an offensive side to them, it depends where the laugh is coming from. Whom or what is the subject matter of the joke? And at whom or what is the humour directed?
“But when it comes to the Holocaust, even a ‘joke’ directed at, say, concentration-camp guards doesn’t sit well with me.