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Why Jimmy Carr's Netflix Special Is Causing A Stir

Not all jokes are created equal, and the line between edgy comedy and offensive invective has never been blurrier (or more fraught with danger). As such, most comedians attempt to walk a thin line between what is and what isn't appropriate to make fun of. Jimmy Carr is an Irish-British comedian famous for his deadpan style of delivery and lewd observational humor. Carr is best known for his role on the British television show "8 out of 10 Cats," which takes statistics and polls and paints them in a rather hilarious light, but he also enjoys touring and performing stand-up specials.

Recently, Netflix released a Christmas special from Carr, entitled "His Dark Material" (not to be confused with the book and television series involving golden compasses and talking polar bears). While sure to please fans of Carr's brand, this particular special is causing a fair amount of controversy. Here's why Carr's new Netflix special has been so divisive. Spoiler alert: It all comes down to one very edgy joke.

Jimmy Carr's Holocaust joke isn't for everybody

According to BBC, the controversy surrounding the comedian involves a joke he told during "His Dark Material" involving the Holocaust and the absolute devastation of Roma, Sinti, and other nomadic groups, which the comedian joked that was a "net positive." Yikes. This elicited almost immediate condemnation, including an official response from the spokesperson for the British Prime Minister saying that it was unacceptable for anybody to make light of genocide, and that the government would be taking additional steps to make sure streaming services are held accountable (via BBC).

Greg Sposton, a campaign manager for the Traveller Movement, which helps represent Roma and other distinct ethnic nomad groups, told BBC, "If you've got a punchline to a joke which is indistinguishable from the genuinely held beliefs of Nazis and fascists, a line has been crossed. There's only one interpretation: that the genocide of Roma and Sinti people was a positive thing. Others have suggested it's hate speech. We want to see accountability. We want to see Jimmy apologize to the community and understand the hurt and offense he has caused."

Carr has defended his joke, and replied (via The Guardian), "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."

It's not entirely clear what Carr hoped to teach with the suggestion that genocide could be a net positive, and it certainly doesn't seem as if an earnest apology is forthcoming.

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