Sam Holmes

The truth about Jimmy Carr’s ‘offensive’ joke

  • From Spectator Life
Image: Getty

Jimmy Carr is known as the hardest-working man in comedy. He loves making people laugh and most of all he likes making people laugh at the things they know they shouldn’t. He also loves making money and knows full well that audiences have become a lot more sensitive in recent years. That’s why he opens his Netflix show by saying: ‘Before we start, a quick trigger warning. Tonight’s show contains jokes about terrible things. Things that may have affected you and the people you love. But these are just jokes. They’re not the terrible things.’

If you continued watching after that and were offended, I’m sorry you were upset but that’s on you. No one made you watch. The Netflix special, His Dark Material (another clue in the title), wasn’t dropped into the Queen’s speech on Christmas Day.

I didn’t laugh too much watching it. Not because it wasn’t funny, but because I’d seen many of the same jokes a few weeks earlier at a work-in-progress at the Soho Theatre, one of the most right-on, politically correct comedy spaces in the country. I was surrounded by superfans and the London elite who all laughed from beginning to end. As I made my way out of the theatre, there was no one angrily tweeting, no tutting in the bathroom stalls. We had all listened to an hour of very well-crafted, well-timed, and very dark jokes within the context of a Jimmy Carr show.

Carr knows that this is a tightrope walk of a joke to get people to feel comfortable enough to laugh at, and he does it perfectly.

It was great to watch the Netflix show, seeing which jokes he’d dropped, which he’d moved and which he’d made even darker. For a month, the show was readily available, probably watched by millions.

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