Back in April, an America writer challenged British comedian here to stop cracking
vulgar and crude jokes about Anne Frank after the writer spotted him
making a tasteless joke about Anne Frank and her family on the Jon
Stewart Comedy Central "Daily Show" on national
television. The news posted on The Wrap about his challenge to Gervais
to please stop with the Anne Frank jokes was picked up by
several Jewish and non-Jewish news outlets, from The Foward and The Tablet in New
York to the Jewish Chronicle in London.
After I wrote an "Open Letter to Ricky Gervais" for The Wrap here,
Gervais responded, through his PR people apparently, with an email to
me which was published
in the Jewish Chronicle newspaper in Britain. His piece was titled
"Why it's kosher to joke about Anne Frank," and with no apologies,
Gervais wrote, among other things:
"I have had that routine for nearly 10 years now. It is about the
misunderstanding and ignorance of what is clearly a tragic and
horrific situation. My comic persona is that of a man who speaks with
great arrogance and authority but who along the way reveals his
In this particular routine, I envisage an almost slapstick version of
the Nazis entering the home of Anne Frank on a daily basis and always
failing to bother to "look upstairs".
I even have one of them suggest, "Looking upstairs today, Sarge?" The
officer replies, "No, let's move on."
The first Nazi then says: "What's that tapping sound?" - as I mime
using an old fashioned typewriter. Again the joke here is the
supremely stupid assumption that Anne Frank obliviously and noisily
typed her diary.
The Sarge (who I am portraying as a lazy and incompetent Nazi)
answers, "Mice! Move on".
The final layer of ignorance in the routine is that, instead of taking
the obvious and correct stance that Nazis were disgusting, immoral and
evil, I merely conclude that they were "rubbish" because of their
inability to find Anne Frank earlier - like it was all part of a big,
mutually agreed game of hide-and-seek.
I can see if [if a Jewish person] 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. It just depends
on what the joke is. Comedy comes from a good or a bad place and the
problem is in its interpretation, with some people confusing the
subject of a joke with the joke's real target. The target of this joke
is the comedian's ignorance."
So much for apologizing for the Jon Stewart show fiasco. Now in the
middle of the summer, Mr Gervais lets loose again in a recent Twitter
message to his many "fans," whoever
they might be, tweeting: "If I had a time machine, I’d go back and
sneak Anne Frank a DVD of 'Home Alone'. It could give her the edge.”
The 51-year-old British comic tweeted that to over 2.5 million
''followers," and of course he landed in hot water again with Jewish
readers in Europe and North America.
He quickly deleted the offensive tweet after being slammed by fans,
according to London press reports, but in response the outspoken
comedian and star of "The Office" tweeted this: “We have to stop this
recent culture of people telling us they’re offended and expecting us
to give a [damn]."
Ricky Gervais is a terribly tasteless, serial offender of the memory
of Anne Frank and her family and he just won't stop. What makes this
man tick? Do Britons really lap this stuff up?