Comedian’s sick’ joke row: who’s laughing now?

PUBLISHED: 17:20 28 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:52 16 August 2010

FOR: Mike Fox of Throgmorton Comedy Club.

FOR: Mike Fox of Throgmorton Comedy Club.

COMEDIAN Jimmy Carr has divided the Bromley entertainment scene after cracking a sick joke about Afghanistan amputees. The 8 out of 10 Cats presenter sparked outrage after he told a 2,500 strong crowd: Say what you like about servicemen amputees from

COMEDIAN Jimmy Carr has divided the Bromley entertainment scene after cracking a 'sick' joke about Afghanistan amputees.

The 8 out of 10 Cats presenter sparked outrage after he told a 2,500 strong crowd: "Say what you like about servicemen amputees from Iraq and Afghanistan, but we're going to have a f*****g good paralympic team in 2012."

The gag made in Manchester caused outrage among veterans causing him to apologise and offer to take part in a fundraiser to raise money for the Help the Heroes campaign.

But Throgmorton Bromley comedy club manager Mike Fox defended his gag claiming that contemporary entertainers should be free to push the boundaries.

Mr Fox, who has been running the comedy club in the studio bar in The Churchill theatre since 2004, said: "You should always push the boundaries in comedy. Nothing in comedy should be taboo. Comedians tend to challenge what is in the media - such as Chris Morris in Brass Eye, he was challenging the media handling of paedophilia.

"Comedians have to push the boundaries. It is a bit draconian when people try and pass laws about what people should say to make people laugh.

"Otherwise people will want to start licensing comedy like other types of entertainment. Comedy should be unlicensed - they are speakers, they are standing on stage when they could be standing in Hyde Park Corner, speaking their mind.

"Jimmy Carr was trying to shock, but there was also a message there. There has been a lot of talk about our soldiers in Afghanistan not having enough equipment and being bombed and maimed, maybe he was just making a point."

But comedian Jim Tavare, who is performing at the Throgmorton this Saturday condemned Carr claiming that he was just using shock tactics.

The Last Comic Standing star who appeared as Tom, the owner of the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban said: "It is bad taste in a very sensitive time when we have lots of troops being killed and injured. It is inappropriate and it just isn't funny.

"Jimmy Carr employs shock comedy which is just an easy form of comedy. There are cleverer jokes out there - Jimmy Carr himself has cleverer jokes.

"Why do people want to upset group of people? I don't understand that. If something is funny, it's worth the risk but that joke just wasn't funny. I think it backfired on him.

"And why pick on vulnerable people? I don't see the point of using soft targets. Why does Jimmy Carr do jokes about disabled soldiers when he could make fun of the fat cats and bankers?"

Grumpy Old Men comic Arthur Smith, who was brought up in Blackheath, also hit out at his stand-up peer.

He said: "There are lots of Jimmy Carr jokes that I object to, I was offended by the one about gypsies that the BBC had to apologise for. I think there have to be some limits.

"I think there are some comics that deliberately go out to be offensive and I don't fo for that as to me it is a license to be racists.

"When I started doing comedy in the '80s, comedians were all doing 'P*** gags' and misogynistic and homophobic material. My generation swept that away. But now it seems that some comedians are doing it again and putting it in inverted commas. They call it post modernism but they don't know what that means. They defend it and say it is 'only a joke' but there has to be an element of responsibility.

"It's no defence to say that in a comedy club there are no laws of discourse. Some jokes are just out of order."

Lesley Alderton, whose son Jake was killed in November 2007 in Afghanistan said she was pleased that Carr had offered to raise money for Help the Heroes.

She added: "I know that there are people that find it funny and even some soldiers would laugh at it, as they have that kind of humour but I thought it was bad taste.

"You have got to give consideration to the families who are in that situation. Some soldiers who have lost limbs have been getting ridiculed in the streets and if these youngsters are seeing him making fun of it, they will think its okay.

"I am sure he didn't mean it in a nasty way but I didn't like it. Unfortunately I lost my Jake but if he was in that position I would be very offended."

After the furore Carr, 37, told reporters: "I'm sorry if anyone was offended but that's the kind of comedy I do. If a silly joke draws attention to the plight of these servicemen then so much the better. My intention was only to make people laugh.

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