“I think I’m doing quite well.”
That’s how Larry David responded to the crowd’s lackluster reaction to a series of jokes he told during his opening monologue last night on Saturday Night Live, where he compared his dating life to Quasimodo and mocked a blind woman he joked about working for.
Yes, it was that kind of opening monologue for the beloved creator of Seinfeld and star of Curb Your Enthusiasm, currently in its ninth season on HBO. Stand-up comedy has never exactly been David’s area of expertise, but he knew enough to realize his jokes about the disabled and his dating troubles were bombing.
So he told a Holocaust joke.
“I’ve always been obsessed with women, and I’ve often wondered if I’d grown up in Poland when Hitler came to power and was sent to a concentration camp, would I be checking women out in the camp?” David asked. “I think I would.
“Of course, the problem is there are no good opening lines in a concentration camp,” David admitted to an awkwardly quiet studio audience. “How’s it going? They treating you OK?”
Predictably, people watching on social media drew out their digital pitchforks and complained about David’s decision to tell a joke about the Holocaust. But as comedians will tell you, no subject is off limits to comedy.
“The Holocaust itself isn’t funny. There’s noting funny about it,” actor and director Rob Reiner said in the PBS documentary The Last Laugh. “But, survival and what it takes to survive — there can be humor in that.”
While there were certainly many people on Twitter and Facebook that expressed their displeasure at David’s joke, there were also many who defended the Jewish comedian and writer over his decision to joke about such racy material.
“I am disgusted by Larry David’s mildly provocative joke,” wrote Australian comedian Ben Pobjie. “What happened to the nice clean comedy that made Carlin and Pryor and Bruce famous?”
I am disgusted by Larry David’s mildly provocative joke. What happened to the nice clean comedy that made Carlin and Pryor and Bruce famous?
— Ben Pobjie (@benpobjie) November 5, 2017
“More and more Twitter feels like I’ve been sent to stay with the Flanders for a night,” wrote WIRED and BuzzFeed scribe Hayley Campbell.
Larry David’s SNL monologue was brilliant. More and more twitter feels like I’ve been sent to stay with the Flanders for a night.
— Hayley Campbell (@hayleycampbell) November 5, 2017
It certainly isn’t the first time David has used the Holocaust for a laugh. The fourth season of Curb Your Enthusiasm features a heated argument between a Holocaust survivor and Colby Donaldson, star of the reality show Survivor.
As far as comedy is concerned, David’s problem wasn’t deciding to tell a joke about the Holocaust on Saturday Night Live — it was telling a Holocaust joke that many people didn’t find particularly funny.
“The thing about a joke about the Holocaust … it’s all about the funny. It’s got to be funny,” comedian Judy Gold explained in The Last Laugh. “You can’t tell a crappy joke about the biggest tragedy in the world.”
What did you think of David’s monologue? Let us know in the comments section below.