The Dim-Post

September 18, 2011

Comedian makes transgressive comment

Filed under: general idiocy — danylmc @ 2:20 pm

Via Stuff:

Comedian Raybon Kan is defending a Holocaust joke as “anti-nazi” rather than making fun of Jewish victims.

Kan sparked outrage from Jewish groups after he suggested Germans should run Auckland’s transport system due to their experience during the Holocaust.

“Maybe Adidas should run Auckland public transport. Nice German company. They should know how to load thousands onto trains,” he tweeted.

Millions of Jewish people were killed under Germany’s Nazi regime.

Wellington Council of Christians and Jews secretary Dave Moskovitz said he hoped to speak to Kan about the offensive joke.

“When a third of your people were wiped out in one go it’s hard to find anything about the Holocaust funny.”

The real outrage here is that the old ‘fascists make trains run on time’ routine is the most boring, predictable observation anyone could make on this subject. And I fail to see why this is offensive to Jews. If anything it’s offensive to Germans, but they’ve got another decade or two before they can hop on the big outrage-go-round.

I’m also opposed to treating the holocaust as a topic of reverence on general grounds: systematic mass exterminations of humans are a routine, ongoing event in modern human history. Treating one historic atrocity with hushed awe ‘lest it ever happen again’ is pretty silly when ‘it’ happens all the time and nobody ever really cares that much.

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44 Comments »

  1. The real outrage here is that the old ‘fascists make trains run on time’ routine is the most boring, predictable observation anyone could make on this subject. And I fail to see why this is offensive to Jews.

    The quip about loading thousands onto trains was not a reference to making the trains run on time. It was a reference to the “efficient” manner in which hundreds of thousands of Jews were sent by the Nazis to concentration camps. I can see why the Jews would be offended by that.

    Comment by Scott — September 18, 2011 @ 2:54 pm

  2. I’m also opposed to treating the holocaust as a topic of reverence on general grounds: systematic mass exterminations of humans are a routine, ongoing event in modern human history.

    Which is TOTALLY HILARIOUS.

    Comment by Tui Head — September 18, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

  3. Agree with Scott that the quip appears to be more about the systematic way Jews were transported to concentration camps than the old “make the trains run on time” (though wasn’t that more about Mussolini rather than Hitler?). Probably Kan didn’t mean to go there, but it is very easy to read it this way and the humour gets lost quickly.

    Cheers, Chris W.

    Comment by Chris White — September 18, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

  4. I think German’s are going to have to put up with the fact that Nazi jokes are gags that will last a thousand years.

    Comment by Richard — September 18, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

  5. Comedian Raybon Kan is defending a Holocaust joke as…

    Fixed.

    Comment by andy (the other one) — September 18, 2011 @ 3:33 pm

  6. “Treating one historic atrocity with hushed awe ‘lest it ever happen again’ is pretty silly when ‘it’ happens all the time and nobody ever really cares that much.”

    Well, how’s about this as a general rule? “Don’t use the occasion of another’s brutal murder as the basis for a joke about present day trivial events.”

    With the exception to the general rule being: “Unless that joke is very, very fucking funny.”

    Comedians professional and amateur may apply the rule at their own discretion, with the audience to judge that application without any right of appeal.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — September 18, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

  7. I’m with Scott. I was looking for a ‘fascists make the trains run on time’ but what I saw was a remark about loading people onto trains.
    And that rather screamed concentration camps and gassing to me.
    It is probably better that we are seriously creeped out by one atrocity than none at all.

    Comment by Roger Parkinson (@RogerParkinson) — September 18, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

  8. On the up side, the Kan/Train debacle extends the window of opportunity for referencing xkcd.

    Comment by Phil — September 18, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

  9. http://xkcd.com/282/

    Comment by Phil — September 18, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

  10. surely thyme is a herb

    Comment by Kahikatea — September 18, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

  11. Funny old world innit, comedy in Joky Hensville: a bit late now, but if he’d been eating a baby at the time he might’ve got name supression.

    Comment by ak — September 18, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

  12. I think the greater problem with it, as a joke, is it wasn’t funny.

    There was nothing special competent about the trains sent to concentration camps, they weren’t especially punctual or well run.
    Confusing German railway transport in horriofic conditions with Italian claims of efficiency just comes across as lame and ill informed.

    It certainly didn’t make any kind of intelligeble observation or curious contrast from whihc humour might flow.

    If you don’t know anything about fascists and ‘trains running on time’ it’ll make no sense to you, and if you do know anything it makes less sense.

    It was just dumb.

    Comment by Fentex — September 18, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

  13. Well, I wasn’t at Raybon Kan’s gig and don’t know exactly what he said or in what tone, but why should that stop me?

    You can joke about the most dark material. Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove is a very, very funny film, even though its topic – effectively, not just genocide, but ‘omnicide’ couldn’t be darker, and Mel Brooks has made plenty of jokes and films about Nazis. Their strategy there, the other side of earnest moral condemnation, is the ridicule of ideas that when taken seriously are deadly. This shows that the Devil (that name is a placeholder for any villain of the moment who gets compared to real villains like Hitler and Stalin) doesn’t have all the best lines after all and that instead of having any grandeur or any of the operatic tragedy that George Lucas tried to attach to Darth Vader, he’s really just an obsessed, incompetent, tawdry fool put in his position of power by people who are no better. That kind of satire forces us to confront uncomfortable things about ourselves and our desire to worship the powerful.

    Raybon Kan on the other hand, just used cliches and hyperbole to satirise something that is really quite trivial (yes, shock horror, the Rugby World Cup really does not matter in the scheme of things at all ). Hyperbole is easy, but cheap; shallow “trangression” of that sort should be buried along with most of postmodernism under several tonnes of badger manure. Kan’s crime is against comedy itself: he has nothing to say, and says it lazily.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — September 18, 2011 @ 4:27 pm

  14. Hitler wasn’t such a bad guy – after all, he did kill Hitler.

    Comment by gazzaj — September 18, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

  15. I gather no once actually contacted a reporter or Kan to say the joke was offensive – rather a reporter read it, thought “who is most likely to be offended by this…” and rang that person to pass it by them..

    Comment by david winter — September 18, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

  16. I imagine the various Jewish groups have boilerplate prepared statements for this sort of thing – it seems to happen about once every few months.

    Comment by gazzaj — September 18, 2011 @ 4:58 pm

  17. The real outrage here is that the old ‘fascists make trains run on time’ routine is the most boring, predictable observation anyone could make on this subject. And I fail to see why this is offensive to Jews. If anything it’s offensive to Germans, but they’ve got another decade or two before they can hop on the big outrage-go-round.

    Definitely. I guess people enjoy going out of their way to be offended.

    Comment by questlovenz — September 18, 2011 @ 4:59 pm

  18. …a reporter read it, thought “who is most likely to be offended by this…” and rang that person to pass it by them.

    That’s the usual sequence of events behind these “outrage” stories. There was no outrage until the reporter went out to manufacture some so they’d have a story to write. Everybody got to make a living, I guess.

    There was nothing special competent about the trains sent to concentration camps, they weren’t especially punctual or well run.

    This is horribly unfair to the Germans. You try freighting hundreds of thousands to their deaths while the world’s three most powerful air forces are busy wrecking your rail system – the RWC organisers have got it well easy by comparison.

    If anything it’s offensive to Germans…

    They can afford to be generous, they got to own and control continental Europe despite losing the war.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — September 18, 2011 @ 5:12 pm

  19. I think comedians should be given some leniency when telling a one liner or joke. Although they shouldn’t be given quite the same leniency given by Justice Cunningham to the local comedian who pleaded guilty to the sexual assault of his daughter. But there will always be jokes about the Holocaust and Anne Frank, among others. In fact, a British comedian joked about Frank and that too drew complaints.

    http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/21945/radio-4-defends-david-mitchell-anne-frank-joke

    Comment by Ross — September 18, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

  20. Totally agree Danyl – this is tiresome comedian bashing at its worst. The joke may be weak, but that’s no excuse for a feeble minded journo to run off to the nearest ‘guaranteed to be outraged’ nutjob. There is a difference between comment on current events and faux outrage at historic events. I’m just amazed it wasn’t David Zwartz (former Israeli high commissioner IIRC) foaming at the mouth.

    Kan should pour petrol on the flames, and start making jokes about how quickly the Israeli govt would clear a bunch of Palestinian rugby fans… scud rockets or tank shells? Ridicule the ‘outraged of Ohariu’ til they get the point. Which was what now? Oh yeh, the rugby. Go the ABs… just don’t go by train ;)

    Comment by bob — September 18, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

  21. “I’m just amazed it wasn’t David Zwartz…”

    Likewise.

    “start making jokes about how quickly the Israeli govt would clear a bunch of Palestinian rugby fans… scud rockets or tank shells?”

    Agreed.

    Bad comedy makes people blush. Good comedy makes them squirm.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — September 18, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

  22. The joke wasn’t particularly funny, but it was just a tweet. We’re not talking about something we’re paying money for, and you’re always going to find someone guaranteed to be offended by any kind of reference to the holocaust that isn’t “ZOMG worst thing ever”

    Pretty good sign it doesn’t merit serious consideration: It’s the Herald on Sunday.

    Comment by Josh — September 18, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

  23. That wasn’t an Il Duce trains on time joke, I fail too see how you think it could be?

    Comment by garethw — September 18, 2011 @ 6:06 pm

  24. “start making jokes about how quickly the Israeli govt would clear a bunch of Palestinian rugby fans… scud rockets or tank shells?”

    How dare you! The Israelis would never use Scud missiles on innocent people! They’d use US-made missiles, never Soviet ones.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — September 18, 2011 @ 6:45 pm

  25. Very much my thoughts also. I think people get far too offended by comedy sometimes.

    Comment by Rob — September 18, 2011 @ 6:56 pm

  26. The other school of thought is that Raybon lost his mojo when he started the botox.

    Comment by roger roger — September 18, 2011 @ 9:25 pm

  27. “Millions of Jewish people were killed under Germany’s Nazi regime.”

    I love how this line was helpfully included for those of us who have lived on Altair 4 since 1940. I would like to repay that journo’s helpfulness by making them read every Godwinned Internet forum thread in history.

    Comment by Adze — September 18, 2011 @ 11:40 pm

  28. ‎Raybon Kan’s “anti-Nazi” tweet has made it all the way to the German High Command, and the Fuhrer, well he’s not happy…

    Comment by Andrew McMillan — September 19, 2011 @ 8:45 am

  29. Lets talk about how well the jews are trying to exterminate the Palestinians…obviously they learned alot from the germans!

    Comment by Kerry — September 19, 2011 @ 9:07 am

  30. There needs to be a term for Godwinning a Godwin thread by comparing Israel to the Nazis… Godwin squared?

    Comment by helenalex — September 19, 2011 @ 9:17 am

  31. You try freighting hundreds of thousands to their deaths while the world’s three most powerful air forces are busy wrecking your rail system

    Who was the third?

    start making jokes about how quickly the Israeli govt would clear a bunch of Palestinian rugby fans… scud rockets or tank shells?

    Um, that is as ignorant as Danyl believing that Hitler rather than Mussolini claimed to have made trains run on time.

    Scud missiles are what Iraq attacked Israel with in 1990. They are a Soviet designed missile Iraq bought from North Korea.

    Lovely, not, to see the Jew haters turning up here.

    Comment by johnsonmike — September 19, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

  32. JohnsonMike wrote: “Lovely, not, to see the Jew haters turning up here.”

    interesting how, whenever anyone criticises an aspect of Israeli government policy, they get accused of being ‘Jew Haters’

    Comment by Kahikatea — September 19, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

  33. interesting how, whenever anyone criticises an aspect of Israeli government policy, they get accused of being ‘Jew Haters’

    Um, just where does this comment I refer to below mention the Israeli government? It specifically accuses “the jews” of exterminating Palestinians:

    Lets talk about how well the jews are trying to exterminate the Palestinians…obviously they learned alot from the germans!

    Jew hating bigot.

    Comment by johnsonmike — September 19, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

  34. @ johnson

    re airforces – US, Uk, USSR

    Comment by insider — September 19, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

  35. That joke does make me a little sad for the Germans. It’s orders of magnitude more offensive to them than Jews, yet there is zero chance of them getting a chance to express that…

    Comment by garethw — September 19, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

  36. re airforces – US, Uk, USSR

    The Russians were a ground force, not an air force. They shelled German cities with wheeled artillery as they advanced. It was the British and the Americans that bombed the hell out of German cities from the air.

    Comment by johnsonmike — September 19, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

  37. interesting how, whenever anyone criticises an aspect of “X”, they get accused of being ‘”X” Haters’

    Welcome to the internet. Enjoy your stay.

    Comment by Phil — September 19, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

  38. Internet hater

    Comment by garethw — September 19, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

  39. “Um, that is as ignorant as Danyl believing that Hitler rather than Mussolini claimed to have made trains run on time.”
    Is it quite as ignorant as believing that Danyl believes that Hitler rather than Mussolini claimed to have made trains run on time?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — September 19, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

  40. In ever-decreasing relevance: the Soviet Union had a very powerful air force in WW2 and used it. A lot of its equipment was destroyed on the ground in 1941, but the great thing about making your entire population slave labourers is that you can replace equipment pretty quickly. It was all tactical, not strategic, but that’s just what you want for destroying trains. We tend not to hear about it for the same reason we don’t hear much else about the Axis vs Soviet conflict.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — September 19, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

  41. @ johnsonmike – sigh. This thread started as humour, but when you have to explain it…

    You conflated my comment with Kerry’s – I only spoke about the Israeli govt (not Israeli citizens, many of whom strongly disagree with their govt), and certainly not about all Jews, in Israel or worldwide. The scud comment was not intended literally, as most would know Israel gets its weapons from the US, not Russia or North Korea or China. But then, you seem more interested in military historic details than the humour thread…

    I look forward to your scathing historic demolition of such Jew-haters as Albert Einstein, who turned down the inaugural Israeli Presidency because of his concerns over the Zionist gangs slaughtering Palestinians. But he’s Jewish, and a Jew-hater…. head explodes. Exiting gracelessly stage left.

    Comment by bob — September 19, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

  42. I hate Jews.

    Especially Grapefruit Jews.

    Comment by Gregor W — September 22, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

  43. Albert Einstein, who turned down the inaugural Israeli Presidency because of his concerns over the Zionist gangs slaughtering Palestinians.

    Einstein actually turned down the offer because he felt he lacked “the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official function. I am the more distressed over these circumstances because my relationship with the Jewish people became my strongest human tie once I achieved complete clarity about our precarious position among the nations of the world.”

    But I guess if the truth doesn’t allow you to make some smarmy little fucktard comment about Israel, you’re not interested, right?

    Comment by Phil — September 22, 2011 @ 4:57 pm

  44. I’m with you, Gregor. Although in our family we do love heavy Jews, as the kids get to draw smiley faces and write their names on the side of the car in the morning.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — September 22, 2011 @ 6:11 pm


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