Beloved Irish comedian Tommy Tiernan has defended a comedian's right to cause offense, after fellow stand-up Jimmy Carr found himself in trouble over a joke in his Netflix special His Dark Material.
Tiernan’s comments were made Monday on the Free Speech Nation podcast which is hosted by comic Andrew Doyle.
Jimmy Carr’s joke involved the “Holocaust” and “gypsies”, and was criticised by politicians in Downing Street, among others.
An official spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that, "Those comments are deeply disturbing and it’s unacceptable to make light of genocide."
Tiernan, however, feels that comedians should not be criticised to such an extent for jokes they tell during a set. He added they should not be 'hounded out of their job' for a 'mistake'.
"If somebody gets up onstage and tells a joke and on further reflection that joke's actually coming from not such a good place, then just stop telling it and move on, than be hung drawn and quartered in the virtual town square,” he told Doyle.
"It can be about race, it can be about gender, it can be about the Olympics or Putin or doughnuts or lesbians or mermaids. If it's funny, it's funny. And if people don't find it funny, then that's all it is, it's just an unfunny moment.
"I walk on a stand-up stage to free myself from autocracy. I trust laughter and I also trust the humanity of the people involved that if somebody makes a mistake it's okay.”
"You follow the laughter and that can take you to odd strange places. I think laughter is an outlaw. Laughter isn't the Mayor. Laughter is the weird, wild woman who lives in a tree four miles outside the town.”
This morning, the Traveller Movement said it was appalled at Tiernan's 'response'.
Appalled at @Tommedian response to @jimmycarr's 'joke' on the Roma Genocide.
This 'joke' goes beyond the realm of humour
Had Jimmy Carr simply made 'mistake', he would have apologised instead of joking about being cancelled while on stage last Saturdayhttps://t.co/PjhBuo0tIp
— The Traveller Movement (@GypsyTravellerM) February 8, 2022
It must be said Tiernan never explicitly defends Carr and Carr's joke is never mentioned in the interview (which was recorded before the controversy).
On social media in Ireland, Tiernan was also criticised for appearing on a right-wing British media platform.
Tommy Tiernan appearing on GB news - he should know better, much better
— Chromeyellow (@lionelduffy) February 8, 2022
The Free Speech Nation features regular discussions on cancel culture and 'the culture war' and is a podcast produced GB News, which plays an instrumental version of God Save The Queen every morning at 5.59am.
You can listen to the entire podcast below, which, it must be said, rarely dwells on politics and is mostly about Tiernan's philosophy as a 'trickster' comedian and his thoughts on causing offense.
"The trickster will not just attack the powerful, he'll attack the weak because he sees both of those things as momentary illusions," he says.
As Tiernan explains on the podcast, he has found himself in hot water for offensive humour earlier in his career. Tiernan apologised for a joke about the Holocaust in 2009 was criticised by the then archbishop of Dublin, among others.
Tiernan also been criticised for offensive jokes centred around the Travelling community and people with disabilities.
“It is not done in a mocking way, but as a release for people. I understand some people don’t appreciate that,” he said at the time.