DANIEL SUGARMAN ASKED WRITERS AND COMEDIANS
People say “The Jews got through the Holocaust by constantly making jokes”. Although I’d like to think this was true, I find this difficult to believe.
“And being Jewish doesn’t justify our making jokes on the subject.
“I was waiting to perform in South Africa recently when a guy, not knowing I was Jewish, told me a horrible Holocaust joke and then a racist joke. I then went on stage and, as always, mentioned I was Jewish.
When I came off, he said: “Oh, that’s why you didn’t laugh, because you’re a Jew” He then paused and said: “But you’re not black why didn’t you laugh at the other one?”
“I’d like to think others wouldn’t have laughed either, but sadly I’m sure that’s not
Diane Samuels, playwright “Why are we even asking whether humour is ‘allowed’ with regards to suffering and tragedy when laughter is the greatest balm and life-affirming of human acts? One of my favourite films ever is The Producers with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder — the art of survival and flourishing even when the heroes are doing their best to sabotage their own success. Springtime For Hitler is utterly inspired and inspiring. It’s so tragically, marvellously iconoclastic. I’m not sure Jews or anyone would have survived or continue to survive without the creative impulse to play with dark experience and transform it into something we can truly enjoy together.”
Arnold Brown, comedian
“All stand-up comedians — and particularly Jewish ones — have a duty to be extremely circumspect when commenting on such a monumental tragedy.
“My only reference ever to this subject in my act was intentionally oblique…
“When people ask me about the Jewish contribution to civilisation, I always tell them, we’ve given already.”
Steven Berkoff, playwright and actor
“Yes indeed, the Holocaust and other various horrors that the Jewish race have been through are so terrifying that one can barely discuss it.
“That’s the reason why humour is so very apt. And this is not ordinary humour, this is a howling, blistering, maniacal humour that only the Jewish race is capable of. It’s the last thing that antisemites can deal with, those humourless scumbags of the world.”