By Victoria Ward 26/10/2009
A former Army commander yesterday called for Jimmy Carr to quit for making fun of soldiers who have lost limbs.
Patrick Mercer, Conservative MP and chairman of the Commons subcommittee on terrorism, said certain subjects should be instinctively “off limits” for stand-up comics.
Carr told a 2,500-strong audience at the Manchester Apollo: “Say what you like about servicemen amputees from Iraq and Afghanistan, but we’re going to have a f***ing good paralympic team in 2012.”
Mr Mercer, who spoke to serving troops about the line, said they were “amazed” by it.
“He was one of their favourite comics,” said Mr Mercer. “He has spent a great deal of time with troops at Selly Oak and Headley Court, but that just makes it even more bizarre.
“It’s not funny and his career should end right now. I understand his desire to shock but there are certain subjects you can’t make fun of and one of those is the sacrifice of our troops – especially this close to Remembrance Sunday.
“It was a very tasteless mistake. Somehow his style of comedy has blinded him to what he is saying. It is too late for an apology.”
Diane Dernie, the mother of wounded soldier Ben Parkinson, said: “Soldiers are fighting for freedom of speech. I hope Carr remembers that when he makes offensive jokes ridiculing them.”
Col Richard Kemp, an ex-Army commander in Afghanistan, said: “These remarks are disgraceful. Carr has little understanding of what these chaps go through.”
Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth was said to be “furious” over Carr’s joke. He said: “Our armed forces put their lives on the line and deserve the utmost respect.”
Carr, 37, said: “I’m sorry if anyone was offended but that’s the kind of comedy I do. If a silly joke draws attention to the plight of these servicemen then so much the better. My intention was only to make people laugh.”
He added that he was prepared to take part in a fundraiser to help raise funds for wounded soldiers.
The joke prompted a huge response on the Army Rumour Service website. One poster wrote: “I believe this was probably a line he picked up from Headley Court from the guys in rehab and so feels justified in using it.”
Many branded him “smug” but most agreed if the gag had been made by someone in the military it would be viewed as funny. One said: “It’s not the joke that upsets people – it’s because Jimmy Carr told it.”
(Thanks to Steve McNeice for sending this article)