Though comedian John Cleese (of “Monty Python” fame) stands to the left-of-center on a variety of political issues, he firmly opposes cancel culture, which he says takes the joy out of life.
Speaking with Reuters, Cleese said that cancel culture, often fueled by political correctness, “misunderstands the main purposes of life, which is to have fun.”
“Everything humorous is critical. If you have someone who is perfectly kind and intelligent and flexible and who always behaves appropriately, they’re not funny. Funniness is about people who don’t do that, like Trump,” he said.
Last month, Cleese ripped the BBC for temporarily pulling an episode of “Fawlty Towers” that “made fun of Germans and World War Two and also featured a character using a racial slur.” Cleese called the move “cowardly and gutless.”
According to Cleese, political correctness creates a problem for comedians, because they “have to set the bar according to what we are told by the most touchy, most emotionally unstable and fragile and least stoic people in the country.”
John Cleese has come under the gun of political correctness more than once. In 2018, for instance, BBC’s Head of Comedy Shane Allen criticized the classic comedy troupe “Monty Python” for being too white, male, and middle class.
“If you’re going to assemble a team now, it’s not going to be six Oxbridge white blokes,” Allen said. “It’s going to be a diverse range of people who reflect the modern world.”
“And I think we’ve heard the metropolitan, educated experience,” he continued. “I think it’s about how original a voice you have over what school you went to.”
John Cleese immediately defended the franchise on Twitter when he said, “BBC’s Head of Comedy puts Monty Python’s lack of originality down to a surfeit of education and racist bias. Unfair! We were remarkably diverse FOR OUR TIME. We had three grammar-school boys, one a poof, and Gilliam, though not actually black, was a Yank. And NO slave-owners.”
“Monty Python” director Terry Gilliam lampooned the politically-correct backlash by declaring himself a “black lesbian” and saying that he no longer wants to be a white male.
“It made me cry: the idea that … no longer six white Oxbridge men can make a comedy show,” said Gilliam. “Now we need one of this, one of that, everybody represented … this is bullsh*t. I no longer want to be a white male, I don’t want to be blamed for everything wrong in the world: I tell the world now I’m a black lesbian. … My name is Loretta and I’m a BLT, a black lesbian in transition.”
“[Allen’s] statement made me so angry, all of us so angry,” he continued. “Comedy is not assembled, it’s not like putting together a boy band where you put together one of this, one of that, everyone is represented.”