Comedian Larry David.
(photo credit: MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS)
During his opening monologue on Saturday Night Live, actor and comedian Larry David managed to make millions of Americans – and himself – cringe.
First, David couldn’t help but point out a “very disturbing pattern” in the slew of sexual assault and harassment allegations against Hollywood and media figures.
“A lot of sexual harassing stuff in the news of late,” he said, “and I couldn’t help but notice a very disturbing pattern emerging, which is that many of the predators – not all – but many of them – are Jews.”
“And I have three words to say to that: Oy Vey Zmir.”
David then visibly grimaced for a solid 10 seconds, and put his hands on his face, knowing perhaps, that linking such behavior to the Jewish community is arguably antisemitic.
Last month, dozens of women came forward and accused powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of decades of abusive behavior.
It started off a chain reaction of sorts, with allegations made against many in the film industry, including director James Toback, producer Brett Ratner and actor Dustin Hoffman.
David continued that “I don’t like it when Jews are in the headlines for notorious reasons. I want ‘Einstein discovers the theory of relativity,’ ‘Salk cures polio.’ What I don’t want: ‘Weinstein took it out’.”
The comedian said he “consistently strives to be a good Jewish representative. When people see me I want them to say: ‘oh, there goes a fine Jew for ya. Margaret, come here, I want you to meet this wonderful Jew – nothing stereotypical about him. If not for the self-deprecation and the irritable bowel syndrome, you’d never know in a million years.”
But David obviously felt like he hadn’t made enough people cringe, so he continued on with a joke that lit up social media.
“I’ve always been obsessed with women,” he said, “And I’d 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.
“Hey Shlomo, look at the one over there by Barracks Eight. Oh my god is she gorgeous? I’ve had my eye on her for weeks, I’d like to go up and say something to her,” he inexplicably continued.
“Of course,” he added, “There are no good opening lines in a concentration camp.
‘How’s it going, they treating you okay? If we ever get out of here, I’d love to take you out for some latkes. You like latkes?’” David is known for his uncomfortable and edgy humor, including on his hit show, Curb Your Enthusiasm.
But The New York Times noted his “discomforting monologue” – to a degree “that even his cable-TV alter ego would have had trouble getting away with.”
The Daily Beast also commented on its “squirm-inducing nature.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, Anti-Defamation League CEO, said that David “managed to be offensive, insensitive and unfunny all at same time.
Quite a feat.”
Across social media, viewers were split, with many uncomfortable and others defending his edgy reputation.
One woman wrote on Twitter that she was “Not feeling Larry David’s concentration camp jokes @nbcSNL . Nothing about the [H]olocaust will ever be funny.” Another said, “Just when you thought Larry David’s #SNL monologue couldn’t get worse, he joked about seducing women in concentration camps. Wow.
But with more than 1,000 likes, one Twitter user wrote, “Judging by how upset everyone is at Larry David’s SNL monologue on Twitter, I’m guessing it was hilarious.”
Others chimed in with similar defenses: “People offended by Larry David would have passed out from shock listening to comedy in the 1970’s. Comedians are edgy and uncomfortable,” said one, while another added: “Everyone complaining about Larry David being awkward and *offensive* as if they’ve never heard of Larry David. Lighten up, people.”