Guest Blog: Ricky, you must be careful when you joke about the Holocaust — go to Google and see how many people who still feel the Holocaust didn’t go far enough
Your response to my first "open letter" to you was recently published, and I was glad to see you take the time to respond to me. I know you are a good man, and I know you value your career in show business — and you are good at it, too.=
But in your response, titled "Why It's Kosher to Joke About Anne Frank," I feel you miss the point, that there is still a disconnect going on in your mind.
Let's be honest. You wrote: "I have had that [Anne Frank joke] 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 immense stupidity."
But, Ricky, you know and I know — and every comedian worth his salt knows — as does every newspaper drama and TV critic, that your Anne Frank shtick is a scripted, rehearsed, staged "joke" that your stage persona tries to pass off as comedy, taking your sidekick Karl Pilkington in with you, too, as part of the game.
You know as well as I do, Ricky, that Karl is not stupid or dumb and he knows full well the real history of the Holocaust and the real backstory of the Anne Frank family. So the "they just wanted to avoid paying rent" joke does not work, sir. Unless your intent is to encourage anti-Semitism, which I am sure is not your intent.
I am sure some of your best friends are Jewish. Your good friend Jon Stewart is Jewish. So I am sure you have no animosity towards Jews, despite your staged and scripted Anne Frank routine, which you recently repeated on Jon's TV show, much to his uneasiness. Even though you fobbed off the "rent" joke as part of Karl's stupidity.
Grow up, sir.
Ricky, you are not stupid and you are not ignorant of history, and I appreciate your response to me.
"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," you sincerely wrote — or your savvy PR person wrote for you. "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."
Ricky, you must be careful when you joke about the Holocaust. Go to Google and see how many people who still hate Jews and feel the Holocaust didn't go far enough. They lap up your Anne Frank jokes as more ammunition to use against Jewish people today! Wake up, mate!
Ricky, a friend of mine in New York, Rudy Shur, a veteran book publisher and the son of Holocaust survivors, read your letter to me and said: "Ricky misses the point. Perhaps he wouldn't think it's so funny if it were his parents being pursued by the Nazis or having almost all of his family shot and killed or dying in concentration camps — such as my own mother's family and my father's family.
"I was born in 1946 in an American-run Displaced Person's Camp outside of Munich, Germany. I grew up never quite seeing the humorous side of the Nazis. In terms of comedy, I myself often get accused of finding comedy in places where no comedy is to be found. And 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 these Ricky Gervais 'rent' jokes and 'typewriting in the attic' jokes about Anne Frank is Mr. Gervais' ignorance."
He goes on to say: "Why not crack a joke about African-Americans being hung from trees in the American South or gay teenagers being murdered or of children in India dying of AIDS? Maybe Mr Gervais' stupidity knows no bounds? That's why they pay him the big bucks, right? Or maybe an apology might be in order to the millions of relatives whose families wound up being slaughtered by the 'stupid' Nazis?"
So Ricky, mate, I feel you still don't get it. One more time, sir, please think about this, off in a corner, without your public-relations crew around to keep you calm and collected. Ponder all this one more time.
You don't owe me an apology, since we hardly know each other.
You might, however, offer an apology to Anne Frank and her family. And at the same time, you might also offer an apology to Jon Stewart, not just in writing but maybe face to face, mano a mano, on his "Daily Show" stage for all the world to see.
Then we can call it a day.