Editors note: You can listen to Feedback online or download it here

    Are there some things one should not make jokes about? Cancer for example?Radio 4 does not seem to think so.

    This week on Feedback we discussed  a new  comedy series  called Bad Salsa which follows some “women as they embrace the world of salsa whilst they adjust to life after cancer”.

    It took me back to the early 1960s when I first heard Tom Lehrer performing his satirical songs. I remember the delight and shock that I felt, particularly when he sang “The Vatican Rag” – 

    “First you get down on your knees, fiddle with your rosaries, 

    bow your head with great respect and genuflect, genuflect, genuflect”.

    But then I was a protestant.However, another Lehrer song made me a little uncomfortable, particularly one verse which goes like this:-

    “All the Catholics hate the Protestants,

    And the Protestants hate the Catholics,

    All the Hindus hate all the Moslems,

    And everyone hates the Jews”.

    It was the reference to the Jews that bothered me. After all this was less than 20 years after the Holocaust, but I relaxed considerably when I realised that Tom Lehrer himself was a Jew.

    Still I have never felt comfortable about jokes about Jews or any minorities. Am I just too PC?

    I even felt bad when collapsing with laughter over Michael Palin’s stutter in the film “A Fish Called Wanda”.

    Does it all come down to the quality of the joke or to who delivers it, or is a subject like cancer so terrible that no jokes are possible?

    I discussed these issues with the writer and the producer of “Bad Salsa”,  

    Kay Stonham and Alison Vernon-Smith.


    Here is our Feedback feature.

    Roger Bolton talks about Bad Salsa, a new comedy series on BBC Radio 4

    In a couple of weeks I will be going to a recording of Gardeners Question Time and talking to my old colleague from Carlisle Grammar School, Eric Robson, who has a smallholding in the most remote and awe inspiring valley in the Lake District, Wasdale.

    If you have any questions you would like me to put to him, do let me know.


    Roger Bolton


    Roger Bolton is the presenter of Feedback on BBC Radio 4

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