Opinion: Did Jimmy Carr Go Too Far?

Jimmy Carr

So a gathering of members of the music industry, a business famous for its bad behaviour, felt that a comedian went too far? Apparently so, according to reports of the response to Jimmy Carr’s jokes about Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp at the Q Awards on Wednesday.

This relatively restrained version of events suggested that the audience of around 200 “bristled” at his opening gambit about being frustrated at not being able to get into a toilet and understanding Oscar Pistorius’ point of view. There was a further silence with his remark that Reeva Steenkamp should not have been in the disabled toilet in the first place.

Now I’m not going to dissect the joke here and suggest that his first remark was punching up while his second was punching down. Nor am I going to discuss the timing of the gag, only a day after the sentencing of Pistorius. 

What I’m interested in is the question of whether the audience was really as offended by the gag as some reports suggest? The Metro, for instance, called it a "Carr crash". Another report said the audience gasped than sat there in silence. Reading the press coverage today I can't see any musicians quoted as saying that they were actually offended. What I can see is lots of publications and websites repeating the joke. 

I can understand that they might not have found it particularly hilarious. But is the music industry so uptight and straight these days that it can be bothered by Jimmy Carr? As the comic reportedly shouted when he didn't get the laughs he expected,  "It’s the f****** Q Awards, come on.”

It’s not as if members of the Steenkamp family were in the room. And he wasn’t doing it live on primetime or at a corporate gig for vicars (or athletes). I wonder what the response would have been if he had been doing it at a police benefit. Perhaps it was in questionable taste, but that’s what you risk getting if you book Jimmy Carr to present an award. I’m not really offended by it. I’ve rarely been offended by Carr. In fact I probably found his tax arrangemnets more offensive than any gag he has ever cracked.


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