Gervais accused of anti-semitism
Over Anne Frank joke
Ricky Gervais has offended a new group of people – after some Jewish viewers took offence to him joking about Anne Frank.
He has been accused of being anti-semitic after making gags about the tragic teenage diarist when he appeared on the Daily Show With Jon Stewart, in the US.
Gervais joked that the persecuted family went into hiding from the Nazis because they did not want to pay rent, and he said the Nazis must have been ‘stupid’ not to have found the teenager sooner – a joke he’s previously made in his stand-up.
Stewart, who his Jewish, told him: ‘They didn't come in every day’ and advised him to read her diary.
The story has been taken up by the Jewish Chronicle which claimed that viewers ‘had threatened to boycott’ Gervais’s shows – although they did not directly quote anyone saying that.
But Dan Bloom, who writes for the San Diego Jewish World, wrote an open letter to Gervais and his sidekick Karl Pilkington.
He said: ‘Can you guys maybe start to leave Anne Frank out of your comedy routines?
‘Okay, some of your fans are laughing, but I'm not: why did the Holocaust diarist become a subject for mirth?’
He then mentions her horrific death of typhoid in a concentration camp, before adding that TV producers ‘sometimes put as much thought into matters of taste and context as a Twittering teenager’.
He concluded to Gervais and Pilkington: ‘It's time to grow up and throw your genteel British anti-semitic snark away. In the gutter. Where it belongs.’
Gervais replied in his own article in the Jewish Chronicle, saying the joke was ‘about the misunderstanding and ignorance of what is clearly a tragic and horrific situation’.
He said: ‘I can see if you took this routine at face value as my real opinion on this profound and heroic tragedy, it could be deemed highly offensive.
‘However, this is obviously an absurd comic position with the audience well in on the joke, fully aware that I am saying the exact opposite of what every right-minded person thinks.
‘I often get accused of finding comedy in places where no comedy is to be found. I feel you can make a joke about anything… The target of this joke is the comedian's ignorance.’
Posted: 19 Apr 2012