And yet how many jokes there are about priests and boys?
"Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."
from Speedy Death
Anyone remember when comic Gilbert Gottfried was fired from his job as the voice of the AFLAC's duck when he posted some jokes on twitter about the tsunami destruction in Japan? AFLAC does do a large part of its business in Japan, so the firing wasn't surprising.
Some of the jokes can be read in this article.
My grandpa, a Holocaust survivor, was one of those who never wanted to talk about what he went through during that time.
Most of the Holocaust survivors were and still are like my grandpa, but there were some who used the black humor in order to survive.
It is hard to diagest how they did it but as one of the survivors described in Dr. Ostrower's research, it helped her to keep her sanity. She didn't want to give Nazis the satisfaction of becoming a robot with a serial number on her wrist. The humor kept her human.
*-planet of ashes- a term that was used by Ka-Tsetnik, a Jewish writer and Holocaust survivor, who revealed his real identity (Yehiel De-Nur) during the Eichmann trial on 1961. De-Nur described Auschwitz as the "planet of the ashes", but before he was able to answer any question about Auschwitz he fainted and was unable to resume his testimony.
I knew Ka-Tzetnik during my days as a journalist. He gave me some of his books with a personal dedication. When my son went to high-school he took one of Ka-Tsetnik's books to his Yeshiva to show it to his classmates. He also talked about being a second (from his father's side) and a third (from my side) generation to the Holocaust survivors.
Comedians know when jokes are over-the-line when the reactions become over-whelming negative to the point where it seriously hurts their income-earning potential and reputation. Some shock jocks have more leeway because they don't appeal to the broad base, but some of the more mainstream ones seem to have a bigger balancing act to do.
I remember Lena Dunham made some joke on Twitter about some Canadian murdering couple, and ended up apologizing because of the strong negative reaction she received. Other comedians bask in the negativity and get away with it because they end up attracting a niche group that will continue to fund their career.
Some very interesting takes on humour in this thread. It's gone well beyond Joan, which is good. I find the remarks about Holocaust humour particularly interesting: worked well for some, not for others. Perhaps it all depends on the reasons for the humour?
Another example to add to our list here: Here in Canada we have a comedian, Rick Mercer, oif whom I am quite fond. Many years ago he did a weekly routine called "Talking With Americans" in which he would illustrate how little Americans knew about Canada. He would go to American universities and do polls with whomever he came across on campus. He would ask them to sign a petition to end the seal hunt on Toronto Island (no seals in this city, only at zoo!) or one to extradite Jean Chretien Pinochet for crimes against humanity (Jean Chretien was the prime minister at that time). It was very very funny because he fooled so many of them. But the most important thing was that he was absolutely delighted when they caught on (a few did). He stopped doing this routine after 9/11 because he said he simply couldn't bear to do this to those in such pain. As far as I know, he's never done it since. This is an example to me of knowing why you're doing it and taking full responsibility for it.
And to me it's an example of being sanctimonious. There is no one in the US who is in such pain from 9/11 that we wouldn't laugh hysterically at how much we don't know about geography and world events. In fact, these sorts of bits are done all the time in the US by US comedians and even newscasters. Because the knowledge of the average American about such things is dismal and deserves to be poked fun at.
"Cupcakes are bullshit. And everyone knows it. A cupcake is just a muffin with clown puke topping." -Charlie Brooker
Needless to say, these types of jokes are Joan's MO. She had said to a London, UK audience back in '09 that (paraphrasing) there is always something to laugh at in every situation. Another one of her Holocaust jokes was that (again, paraphrasing) she hadn't anyone happier than [actress x] since Mel Gibson's tour of Auschwitz.
I think if anyone is offended, they can just change the channel / turn off the TV ... so many choices ...