I am rather fond of Jimmy Carr. Having seen him in concert, I found him self-effacing and a master of his art, despite occasionally dipping his toes over the line, which is a humour many of us pre-millennials enjoy.

In the current climes however, enjoyment is now routinely castigated as if it is a dirty pillow. It’s not so much about what we can say and do, but more about what we mustn’t: what we aren’t allowed to think; what we aren’t allowed to find funny. And that in itself is where the problem lies as an invisible minority attempts to purge the feelings of the populace at large.

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Any comedian worth his salt (ie, one that actually elicits a laugh) must have a target. Jimmy Carr, often in the headlines for cutting edge jokes and the odd bit of tax ‘avoidance’ has been demonised for joking about the Holocaust which, to be fair, is never a go-to topic for any bar the most experienced comedians.

Personally, I did not find that joke funny when I watched it on the His Dark Material routine on Netflix. Yet if the name of the set didn’t give the upcoming game away, then the numerous disclaimers should have sent the easily offended searching for more middle-of-the-road comedy such as Macintyre or Mr Tumble. Yet many chose to watch on to, in a sado-masochistic fashion, elicit the feeling of disgust, which has become the snowflake's stock in trade in recent years.

In case you aren’t aware of the ‘joke’, Carr mentioned the Jewish slaughter before following it up with the fact that many gypsies were also murdered, and framed that as a positive.

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I concur, on paper, it reads appallingly, but he got what he yearned for: that collective intake of air from the audience, a crescendo of nervous laughs which magnified when the respondents realised that others around them were there for the same thing: to embrace disgust as a release, and find humour in the darkest of dark places. But the one thing missing when reports calling for, predictably, Jimmy to be cancelled, was the all-important ‘context’.

Carr, when he isn’t touring, spends a lot of his spare time supporting charities. In interviews he does not seek to outrage, and no doubt is, like many comedians and famous folk, playing a character: Jekyll and Hyde if you will. When Katie Price was ‘Jordan’, do you believe she went home undressed from the waist up and pouted around the house until bedtime? That’s probably not the best example, but you catch my drift.

‘Culture’ Secretary Nadine Dorris (that’s an appointment akin to making me the minister for hair) has jumped aboard the bandwagon, maybe to deflect attention from the numerous raves at number 10, by stating that Netflix will be ‘forced’ to withdraw offensive content once new legislation is enforced. There, in one sentence, is the truth: this is all about control and the fear of the minority, yet extremely powerful, wokeists amongst us.

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What next? Will Eminem be culled for lyrics seen as misogynist? Or Jay-Z for use of words which are racially charged? Or maybe Michael Macintyre as he once preformed a skit about how he looks ‘a bit Chinese’?

The truth can be found, unless it is overtly racist or nasty in tone, in the context. No doubt we will end in a stage of comedy prohibition where, instead of drugs or dodgy DVDs being sold under the table in pubs, we will be hiding Jimmy Carr’s latest show on datastick up our rear end in case we get caught by the comedy police and sent for a few years chokey or a programme of ‘re-education’. If we wanted to live like this, we would move to China, or North Korea, where our feelings, humour, thoughts, and words are policed even more than we are being here. Currently at least.

I guess I will just have to force myself to find the new wave funny. Katherine Ryan for example is over exposed, with a perma-glazed expression, like a rabbit in the headlights, as she fails to muster even the briefest of chuckles. Or maybe Rosie Jones who, if timing and being amusing are the two yardsticks for comedy excellence, falls short, and then some, on both counts.

I will continue to explore the excesses of the mind of Jimmy Carr and other such trailblazers and, if I find offence, I can just turn it off and go and watch Citizen Khan or Mrs. Brown’s boys instead. We are becoming a nation of vanilla bores and if we don’t say ‘down with this sort of thing!’ and now, we may find that comedy may become as obsolete as the Sinclair C5 or VHS video recorder.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher