Jimmy Carr faced protests outside the venue where he performed on Wednesday evening in response to comments he made which have been described as racist and offensive towards Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.
Cambridge Stand Up To Racism organised the demonstration outside the Corn Exchange in the city, with up to 100 people protesting loudly with large placards and speakers.
It came after a clip from Carr’s His Dark Material show went viral and prompted anger. In the clip, Carr said: “When people talk about the Holocaust, they talk about the tragedy and horror of six million Jewish lives being lost to the Nazi war machine. But they never mention the thousands of Gypsies that were killed by the Nazis.
“No one ever wants to talk about that, because no one ever wants to talk about the positives.”
Outside the gig on Wednesday, Martin Ward, 30, from an Irish Traveller background, said he was “absolutely disgusted”.
“I’ve come here to stand up, a voice of Travellers, as I am absolutely disgusted by Jimmy Carr’s comments. He can’t get away with this. I think Carr is a disgrace. The least he could do is apologise to me and my community, and anybody else that he’s insulted,” he said. “My community, the Irish Traveller community, are very very angry.”
Amanda James, a social worker who attended the demonstration with her daughters, said she had heard people describing the protesters as “woke snowflakes who couldn’t take a joke”.
“People coming in have been talking about how people protesting that we can’t take a joke … But actually what he is doing is completely unacceptable when we continue to see Gypsy, Roma, Traveller people [being] completely discriminated against.
“For Jimmy Carr, who is on national television, to get away with doing this, it’s almost as if it is giving permission for people to treat them like that. It’s absolutely disgusting and I am so pleased to see so many people out here.”
Cambridge Stand Up To Racism said: “Challenging these remarks is particularly important in Cambridge which hosts a Travellers community which often receives adverse publicity and verbal abuse.”
The city council confirmed the Corn Exchange would be lit up as a mark of solidarity, with leaflets distributed about historical and present racism towards Traveller communities.
Carr’s comments have been condemned widely by groups such as the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, the Auschwitz Memorial and Hope Not Hate. Downing Street has also said that the comments made by Carr were “deeply disturbing”.
Cambridge city council said in a statement that Carr’s management had confirmed that none of the content from the Netflix show would be used during his appearance on Wednesday.
Anna Smith, the council leader, said she shared the outrage felt by so many regarding Carr’s “unacceptable remarks”.
“As a council, we are committed to working with and supporting marginalised communities, including our Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. That is affirmed in our city’s equality pledge, which states our belief in the dignity of all people and their right to respect and equality of opportunity.”
Yvonne MacNamara, the chief executive of the Traveller Movement, who released a joint statement with the leader of the city council, said: “It’s hard to overstress the hurt and distress these comments have caused. We welcome the stand taken by Cambridge city council and hope others will now follow suit.”
She continued: “There are many still living who witnessed the brutality of what happened, and many more who lost their families. Making a joke of it is unacceptable. The Traveller Movement has called on Netflix, which aired the His Dark Material special containing the joke in December, to remove the gag and apologise.”