Complaint filed against Norway's 'Holocaust' comic

Fellow comedians and his TV station are backing controversial Otto Jespersen.

otto 88 (photo credit: courtesy)
otto 88
(photo credit: courtesy)
A Norwegian Jew has filed a complaint against a comedian who mocked the Holocaust, but fellow comedians and his TV station are backing the controversial performer. "I would like to take the opportunity to remember all the billions of fleas and lice that lost their lives in German gas chambers, without having done anything wrong other than settling on persons of Jewish background," Otto Jespersen joked during a November 27 routine on national television. On December 4, on the same Norwegian TV show, according to the London-based Academic Friends of Israel group, Jespersen presented a satirical monologue on anti-Semitism that ended with, "Finally, I would like to wish all Norwegian Jews a Merry Christmas - no, what am I saying! You don't celebrate Christmas, do you!? It was you who crucified Jesus." Aftenbladet, a Norwegian newspaper, reported earlier this month that a Jewish man who lost nine family members to the Holocaust filed a "report" against Jespersen, but did not make clear what the repercussions of such a report might be. Jespersen is notorious in Norway for his guerrilla comedy; he burned an American flag on air once in "support" of the Iraq war; another time, he burned a Bible and added that he would not repeat the stunt with a Koran because he wanted to live longer than a week. Fellow comedians defended him after the Holocaust complaint. "It was clear satire," said one, Johan Golden, according to Aftenbladet. Another, Henrik Elvestad, said he did not see the monologue, but in general: "At other times when there have been controversies about Otto, such as the flag-burning episode, I have always been on Otto's side. I think he is well within limits." Jespersen was also backed by his TV boss, the newspaper said: "The claim that Jespersen has anti-Semitic sympathies is completely false. I don't believe it. Otto Jespersen is trying to make a point in these monologues, and the text should be judged in context. It shouldn't be taken in isolation." the channel's director was quoted saying, although he acknowledged that some might be offended.