Larry David is known for cracking jokes that are decidedly politically incorrect. And sometimes he veers into territory that's pretty, pretty, pretty controversial, which is exactly what happened when he hosted Saturday Night Live last night.
The joke in question came during his monologue, when David addressed the sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein and other prominent men in Hollywood. He noted a "disturbing pattern" that "many of the predators...are Jews." David, who is Jewish, added that he "consistently strive[s] to be a good Jewish representative."
Then he raised a few eyebrows when he brought up the Holocaust: "I often wondered if I'd grown up in Poland when Hitler came to power and was sent to a concentration camp, would I still be checking out women in the camp? I think I would."
In the aforementioned scenario, David pointed out that pick-up lines would be a struggle. "You know, if we ever get out of here, I’d love to take you out for some latkes. You like latkes?" he suggested.
You get the gist, but the full monologue can be viewed here:
Some viewers were offended by David's use of the Holocaust as a punchline.
But others defended the joke and argued that there are more important places to direct outrage. A few people pointed out that it was peak Larry David and the backlash could definitely be the plot of a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about what brand of humour crosses the line, but Dennis Perkins of the A.V. Club didn't appreciate the joke for a different reason. "Nothing is off limits in comedy, or for comedy. Nothing. The best comedians turn shit into laughs," Perkins wrote. But he described the entire monologue as lacklustre, and said the Holocaust punchline simply wasn't funny. Specifically, Perkins noted that the joke "wasn’t well crafted, imaginative, or skilfully delivered."
As The Washington Post noted, this isn't the first time David has used jokes about the Holocaust in his material. His character has posed cringeworthy questions to survivors on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and back in the 1990s not all viewers appreciated a Seinfeld plotline in which Jerry and his girlfriend made out in a movie theatre during a showing of Schindler's List.
As a Jewish comedian whose relatives died in the Holocaust, David has taken the tactic of coping with everything through humour. But as social media reactions exhibit, some viewers feel that there will never be a "right" time to make jokes about that particular portion of history.