(Updated) UK comedian’s observations in the Guardian reveal more than his style of humor

H/T Pretzelberg

Imagine you’re a comedian, and you want to tell a political joke.  But, as politics is such a sensitive topic, you want to take care not to alienate your fans.  What do you do? Well, you’ll likely decide to use, as the object of your mockery, a safe target – someone beyond the pale, like a totalitarian dictator or egotistical tyrant. Kim Jong-il,  Omar al-Bashir, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad come to mind.

The Guardian’s Culture Guide, on Dec. 18, which contained celebrity end-of-year lists, included this one, on “Reasons to be cheerful” by British comedian Mark Steel, who wrote his as a poem.  The last zinger included this gem:

A single malt’s aroma,
An ‘Mmm donuts’ from Homer,
Ariel Sharon still in a coma

It’s quite interesting that, of all the despots, dictators, and madmen he could have employed in the service of his humorous observations, he chose to mock the comatose former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon.

The joke is more than tasteless.  It speaks volumes about the prejudices of Guardian readers – about which, Mark Steel was clearly very much aware.


My thanks to a reader who linked to an article Steel wrote on his website, in which he referred to Israel as, “a nation which acts with such contempt for humanity.”  Steele’s humor at Ariel Sharon’s expense was clearly not a fluke.

Categories: Guardian

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18 replies »

  1. Speaks volumes about the Guardian’s failure to apprehend how offensive that is.

    It’ll do anything to get more hits, won’t it?

  2. A few years ago I was listening to BBC7 on the Internet. An old “Dad’s Army” re-run. The announcer was a guest, comedian Richard Herring. He said: “I’m glad there was a World War II. Hitler wasn’t all bad.” (meaning that without WII we wouldn’t have had “Dad’s Army”).

    I emailed the BBC7 protesting strongly, reminding them that 6M Jews and 20M Russians – amongst others – had been killed in WWII.

    I got a reply from a snotty producer, saying that Herring is a comedian, and that’s his “take” – or words similar.

    I emailed back saying that I live in Jerusalem, near Israel’s Foreign Office, and intend to walk there and place his reply before whoever handles the British desk.

    I got a frantic reply from the head of BBC7, apologizing, agreeing with me that being a comedian was no justification for Herring’s remark, and promising me that “steps had been taken ..” etc.

    A few weeks later, when Herring ended his guest stint, he apologized in a general way “if he’d offended anybody”.

    Avraham Reiss – Jerusalem

  3. Mark Gardner of CST on Mark Steel


    ‘It is neither CST’s desire nor role to act as a public relations outlet for Israel.

    However, when antisemitism arises, directly, because facts have been deliberately omitted from an anti-Israel article, we will say so.

    Today’s Independent provides one very small example of this. In this instance, the anti-Israel criticism, with not a word about Jews, is provided by columnist and comedian, Mark Steel.

    Steel’s article is a disgraceful perversion of a Jerusalem Post interview with Israeli commandoes from the Turkish flotilla clash. Steel claims that Israeli “Sgt S” said the six people he shot “were without a doubt terrorists”.’

    To view the rest of the article, please follow the link:


    Via Engage

  4. The phrase “British comedy” is an oxymoron. No such thing any more. Especially on the BBC. I fought hard to suppress a straight face recently listening to their ignorance in supposedly comedic political terms on R4, as mentioned here.

    It’s disgraceful that this reference to Ariel Sharon was allowed to be published at all. But the Guardian has no moral values, none whatsoever, and is beneath contempt. I’ve had that confirmed by the fact that they have recently banned me from commenting on Comment is… what was it again? – FREE? I think they banned me because I admire Tony Blair and I think Israel is a good thing. Can’t have any of that now, can we, at Comment is sort of Free.

    It’s dreaful “poetry” anyway. I wonder if the first two parts were any better?

  5. keeptb4pm, I so agree with you about painfully PC , unfunny BBC comedians. Now that they can’t get an instant laugh, like children shouting knickers, just by mentioning George W, they are really struggling.

  6. jcwmoderator writes:

    ‘A few weeks later, when Herring ended his guest stint, he apologized in a general way “if he’d offended anybody”.’

    Don’t you just love this little bit of irony?

    ‘In 2010 he [Richard Herring] was made a Distinguished Supporter of The British Humanist Association’


    Herring certainly has a thing about Hitler…

    Richard Herring Hitler Moustache Clip 1

    Brian Logan on Richard Herring and the Hitler Moustache:

    The new offenders of standup comedy

    “Political correctness used to rule comedy, but now comics routinely offend their audiences. How did things get so nasty?”

  7. Steel is just one of a number of comedians that the BBC like to trot out and clearly are now infesting the Guardian. They are nearly all of a left bent and happy to dismiss the usual anti-left totems – Bush, Thatcher, the US and of course, Israel.

    The British public have been so thoroughly drip fed the anti-Israel story by BBC broadcasts, that when people like Steel trot out their spiteful crap, the public knows just how to respond. Incidentally, the Guardian has been the principal place that vacancies at the BBC have been advertised, so one fed the other and vice versa.

    Lots of BBC fare, whether comedy, news, current affairs or drama all have this element of bias and many who work there can’t even recognise it as such.

    The left wing, middle class intelligentsia in the UK has been well and truly indoctrinated by the constant anti-Israel motifs fed them by the media.

    Which is why the anti-Muslim movement in the UK has come from grass roots individuals like the BNP and the EDL, the real working class as opposed to the pseudo socialists who people the media and the chattering classes.

    BTW Silke, the words of Steel’s ‘poem’ are replacements of words of a song – Reasons to be cheerful – by Ian Dury and the Blockheads band.

  8. The Guardian does not have a sense of humor,not a sense of decency,not a sense of fair play,it is a nasty cheerless,racist anti Semitic/Israeli/Zionist rag run by drones.

    In fact it’s the voice of Islam,and the down trodden palestinians

    Their Cartoonists are absorbed by blood and guts,bodily fluids,condoms,and the ever present bums,preferably very very large bums…..

  9. I could never understand British humor,they repeat everything ten times and everybody explodes into fits of laughter.

    Their cartoons are even worse……….