Residence: Room 4203D, 920 W. 37th PL. Los Angelos, California 90007
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/20/2011
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish
My informant is a Caucasian American who grew up in Los Altos, California. He performed this catch joke on me when we were casually talking in the suite of my college dormitory:
“Collector: It’s weird how hilarious holocaust death camp jokes are…I mean, they’re terrible!
Informant: Hey, don’t make fun of that. My grandfather died in a camp like that.
Collector: Wait–what? What? I’m sorry.
Informant: Yeah, you dick, he died–he fell off a watch tower. [Laughter]”
This is a catch joke in the style where the performer catches his target and then subverts his expectations. In this case, the catch was making the target (me) feel bad for making a Holocaust joke and insulting the memory of his grandfather. The subversion was telling me that his grandfather fell off a watch tower and implying that his grandfather was a Nazi.
The fact that this joke was performed suggests the de-sensitization of the taboo surrounding atrocities of the Holocaust among the younger generation.