UK comedian Jimmy Carr causes outrage with Roma Holocaust joke

Joke, that called killing of 500,000 Gypsies one of the ‘positives’ to come out of Holocaust, slammed by memorial groups; calls for Netflix to remove his latest special

Jimmy Carr, host of new Channel 4 show, attends the 12th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in New York. (Brad Barket/Invision/AP)
Jimmy Carr, host of new Channel 4 show, attends the 12th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in New York. (Brad Barket/Invision/AP)

Popular UK comedian and TV host Jimmy Carr came under fire on Friday for telling a joke in which he praised the killing of hundreds of thousands of Roma in the Holocaust as “positive,” with many calling for his work to be removed from Netflix.

Carr’s joke was condemned by representatives of the Roma, also known as Gypsies or Travelers, the UK Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, the Auschwitz Museum and several Labour lawmakers.

The outrage started after a clip from his latest Netflix special, released in December 2021, began circulating widely on social media on Friday.

In it, Carr says: “When people talk about the Holocaust, they talk about the tragedy and horror of six million Jewish lives being lost to the Nazi war machine.”

He goes on: “But they never mention the thousands of Gypsies that were killed by the Nazis.”

“No one ever talks about that, because no one wants to talk about the positives,” he says to laughter from the crowd.

Hundreds of thousands of Roma were killed by the Nazis between 1939 and 1945, of whom 23,000 were interred in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Members of the community, along with the Sinti minority, were also subject to Nazi racial discrimination laws in the lead-up to the Holocaust, forced sterilizations in the 1930s and medical experimentation in the death camps.

The joke was condemned by Friends, Families & Travellers, a support group for the Roma community, who said: “the murder of 500,000 Roma and Sinti people is no laughing matter.”

They called on Netflix and the UK’s Channel 4, where he hosts a number of shows, to “review their ongoing work with someone who belittles genocide to humor.”

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust CEO Olivia Marks-Woldman called for greater education on the issue of the persecution suffered by the Roma people.

‘We are absolutely appalled at Jimmy Carr’s comment about persecution suffered by Roma and Sinti people under Nazi oppression, and horrified that gales of laughter followed his remarks,” she said.

“Hundreds of thousands of Roma and Sinti people suffered prejudice, slave labor, sterilization and mass murder simply because of their identity – these are not experiences for mockery,” she said.

The Auschwitz Museum urged Carr to learn more about the fate of the Roma and Sinti and sent him a link to their online educational course on the Holocaust.

Roma families await deportation under armed guard in Asperg, Germany during the Holocaust. (Bundesarchiv Bild)

Several lawmakers also condemned the comments and called for Netflix to take down his latest special “His Dark Material.”

“I have written urging Netflix to remove Jimmy Carr’s vile anti-GRT and antisemitic material,” tweeted Labour MP Nadia Whittome.

“In funding, streaming and profiting from this material, Netflix is legitimizing and perpetuating racism,” she said in the letter to the streaming giant.

Labour MP David Lammy also called for Netflix to take action. “Jimmy Carr’s attack on the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community is utterly despicable. It was only last week we commemorated the Holocaust. @Netflix should remove his sickening celebration of genocide immediately,” he tweeted.

There was no immediate comment from Carr, known for his dark humor, whose introduction to his special calls some of the jokes “career enders.”

In the special, Carr defends the joke, which he describes as “fucking funny” and“edgy as hell,” saying it’s ultimately about Holocaust education

“It’s a joke about the worst thing that’s ever happened in human history, and people say ‘never forget’, well this is how I remember,” he said.

“There is an educational quality. Like everyone in the room knows 6 million Jewish people lost their lives to the Nazis during the second world war. But a lot of people don’t know, because it’s not really taught in our schools, that the Nazis also killed, in their thousands, Gypsies, homosexuals, disabled people and Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

Carr is the second prominent celebrity to come under fire in recent days for comments on the Holocaust, following Whoopi Goldberg, who was suspended from her role as host of “The View” for saying the Holocaust was “not about race.” She later apologized.

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