You know that famous Seinfeld where Jerry thinks his dentist, Dr. Watley, converted to Judaism for the jokes? A priest asks Jerry if this offends him as a Jew. In a classic punchline, Jerry responds, “It offends me as a comedian!”
If you haven’t heard about this yet, you should. In last month’s “Germany Issue” of Heeb Magazine, Roseanne Barr dressed up as Hitler, and was pictured taking burnt Jew cookies out of an oven. The reaction to this picture has been swift and strong. Basically, everyone from Fox News to Perez Hilton has called out Heeb for being rude and offensive, to say the least.
Heeb, feeling a lot of backlash, had to respond. But in his statement, Joshua Neuman, the editor of Heeb, didn’t apologize at all. Really, all he said were that the views of the magazine were being misrepresented. To quote him: “…while we kind of don’t give a sh*t whether the magazine wreaks havoc on smug and sanctimonious visions of Jewish life, we do care when our intentions (or those of our collaborators) are distorted.”
It’s ironic that in an attempt to defend his publication, Mr. Neuman came off as incredibly smug himself. He says they were exploring whether or not Holocaust humor has shed its taboo. He goes on to mention such jokes as “the Soup Nazi” from Seinfeld to prove that we are actually okay with it all.
But here’s my issue. For the most part, I’m fine with Holocaust humor. But (and I’m trying to avoid sounding smug myself), comedy isn’t about just making the most outladnish thing you can think of and throwing it at people. The “Survivor” scene from Curb Your Enthusiasm that he also mentions, is hilarious because it’s smart. It makes fun of people who think reality shows are hard. It doesn’t make fun of the Holocaust. Where is the joke in the Roseanne picture? She is killing Jews? Haha…nope.
Just like Jerry, I’m not offended as a Jew. I’m offended as a comedian. Shock value just isn’t funny. And Heeb Magazine is just plain lame.