Jimmy Carr: Holocaust joke explained, what he said about Roma Gypsies in Netflix video - will he be cancelled?

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The joke came as part of Carr’s His Dark Material special, and has been branded ‘offensive’ by Twitter users

Jimmy Carr has been criticised for a “truly disturbing” joke made about the travelling community and the Holocaust in Netflix special, His Dark Material.

In a widely-shared clip from the show - first made available on Christmas Day - Carr jokes about the horror of the Holocaust and “six million Jewish lives being lost”.

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But what exactly did he say, and will Netflix remove the offending material?

Here is everything you need to know about it.

What did Jimmy Carr say?

Carr’s stand-up persona is much ‘darker’ than the more cheeky chappy character he employs when hosting panel shows like 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown.

Because of this - and because he’s been doing comedy for over 20 years - Carr has seemingly managed to get ahead of ‘cancel culture’; his wardrobe is overflowing - almost proudly so - with offensive skeletons.

It’s usually fairly clear he is joking, and he also laughs along with his own material, not at the content of what is said, but almost at his own stupidity for having said it.

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Indeed, the comedian issues a “trigger warning” to the audience at the beginning of his one-hour special, admitting his performance contains “terrible things”.

In a Netflix synopsis of the programme, it says the special features jokes which are “career enders”.

As part of the special, he asks his audience “you paid to see some edgy comedy, right?” to cheers from his fans.

As a punchline, Carr makes a disparaging remark about the deaths of thousands of Gypsies at the hands of the Nazis, saying it was a “positive” of the Holocaust.

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Carr defends the quip, saying it is "f***ing funny", "edgy as hell" and has an educational value.

Jimmy Carr performing on stage in 2015 (Photo: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images for Advertising Week)Jimmy Carr performing on stage in 2015 (Photo: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images for Advertising Week)
Jimmy Carr performing on stage in 2015 (Photo: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images for Advertising Week) | Getty Images

What has been said about Carr?

In a tweet referencing the joke, The Traveller Movement – a charity supporting the traveller community in the UK, said: “This is truly disturbing and goes way beyond humour.

“We need all your support in calling this out #StopTravellerHate @StopFundingHate.”

The charity have now launched a petition to Netflix calling for the “removal of the segments of His Dark Material which celebrates the Romani genocide”.

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Similarly, not-for-profit organisation the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust shared a statement on Twitter from their CEO Olivia Marks-Woldman who was “horrified” to hear “gales of laughter” following Carr’s remarks.

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, added on Twitter: “These comments from Jimmy Carr are beyond tasteless.

“The targeting of Roma and Sinti during the Holocaust is no laughing matter. Deeply offensive. I also don’t understand how this was aired @netflix.”

Hope Not Hate, the anti-fascism and anti-racism campaigning group, also condemned the comedian’s joke on Friday.

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In a tweet, they said: “Comedy is an amazing tool for progressive change and it’s such a shame that @jimmycarr decided to use his platform to celebrate the murder of one of the most marginalised groups in society.”

Will the joke be taken down?

Dave Chappelle in July 2021 (Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images)Dave Chappelle in July 2021 (Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Dave Chappelle in July 2021 (Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images) | Getty Images

In October 2021, Netflix workers staged a walkout in October in protest of Dave Chappelle’s comedy special, in which the comedian had been accused of making transphobic jokes.

The protesters were not asking for the special to be taken down, but instead for Netflix to create a fund to develop transgender and nonbinary talent in the entertainment industry.

Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos had defended the decision to air the programme, and in a leaked staff memo, he said that “content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm”, and also emphasised the importance of “artistic freedom”.

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When asked what the protocol at Netflix is for defining hate speech, and what does or does cross the line, Sarandos explained that the streaming platform would “definitely draw the line on something that would intentionally call for physically harming other people or even remove protections”.

Netflix is yet to comment on whether the special, or the joke in question, will be removed from its platform.

Could the Government get involved?

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has suggested the Government could legislate to stop comedy people find offensive being shown on Netflix in the future.

Dorries, appearing on BBC Breakfast to speak about the Online Safety Bill, said: “We are looking at legislation via the Media Bill which would bring into scope those comments from other video on-demand streaming outlets like Netflix. So it’s interesting that we’re already looking at future legislation to bring into scope those sorts of comments.”

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She said the comments were “abhorrent and they just shouldn’t be on television”.

It was put to the Culture Secretary that she had previously tweeted that “left-wing snowflakes are killing comedy”.

She responded by saying “what Jimmy Carr did last night is not comedy”; Carr’s special was released on Christmas Day 2021, but is now receiving widespread attention after the clip in question was posted and shared online.

Dorries added: “Jimmy Carr’s comments, no one can call that, you know, snowflake or wokeishness, that’s just… it was just appalling.”

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She later told Times Radio: “We don’t have the ability now, legally, to hold Netflix to account for streaming that but very shortly we will.”

Asked on Sky News if there was any way this new law would put restrictions on free speech, she said: “No, absolutely not. We’ve been very, very… Well, because I’m a Conservative, I’ve been very, very careful about that.”

Downing Street has said Jimmy Carr’s joke about the Holocaust was “deeply disturbing”, but it is a matter for Netflix whether the comedian’s show should remain on its streaming service.

How has Carr responded?

While Carr is yet to officially respond to the critism, he is said to have mentioned the potential ending of his career at the hands of “cancel culture” over the weekend.

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According to the Mirror, Carr is said to have touched on the controversy at a gig in Whitely Bay in Tyne and Wear when a fan heckled: "Are we going to talk about the Holocaust?"

He reportedly replied said: "We are going to talk about cancel culture, the whole thing.

"We are speaking, my friends, in the last chance saloon. What I am saying on stage this evening is barely acceptable now. In ten years, f***ing forget about it."

"I am going to get cancelled, that's the bad news. The good news is I am going down swinging.

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"The joke that ends my career is already out there. It's on YouTube, Netflix or whatever, and it's fine until one day it f***ing isn't."

The 8 Out Of 10 Cats host is said to have added: "You are going to be able to tell your grandchildren about seeing this show tonight. You will say I saw a man and he stood on a stage and he made light of serious issues.

"We used to call them jokes and people would laugh.”

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