| 13.5°C Dublin

Comedians playing with fire

Close

Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers

Getty Images

Joan Rivers

Irish satirist Jonathan Swift once made a "modest proposal" that the starving Irish could ease the burden by selling their children as food for rich lords and ladies. He was joking, of course.

Jewish comedians such as Mel Brooks, Charlie Chaplin and Joan Rivers satirised the Nazis. And the late Rivers got into serious trouble in 2013 by observing of the German supermodel Heidi Klum: "The last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens."

Answering the outrage generated by her Holocaust joke, Rivers said: "My husband lost the majority of his family at Auschwitz, and I can assure you that I have always made it a point to remind people of the Holocaust through humour."

Monty Python were accused of sacrilege because of The Life Of Brian while the Blackadder team mined comedy gold from the horror of WWI trenches.

Comedians and satirists have always played with fire when it comes to grim historical events. But it could be argued that the best, like Swift, have used humour as a weapon against evil. As well as making us laugh.

Indo Review