‘Totalitarian’: ‘Monty Python’ Star John Cleese Blasts Cancel Culture

John Cleese, an English actor, comedian, screenwriter, and producer speaks at Pendulum Summit, World's Leading Business & Self Empowerment Summit, in Dublin Convention Center.
Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

“Monty Python” alumnus John Cleese blasted the current cancel culture and said when a person sets “out to get someone fired … that’s very totalitarian.”

Speaking to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression group’s Greg Lukianoff, the host asked the legendary comedian about the evolution of cancel culture, from when audiences freaked out over topics in his 1979 film “The Life of Brian” to now. 

“What I experienced [then] was people who were upset and offended by things,” the 84-year-old comedian said. “And once or twice, I’ve done things that afterwards I felt that I’ve crossed the line and thought I shouldn’t have done that. But people would get upset and complain to the BBC or something like that.”

“Or they might get up and walk out of the show,” he added. “The thing about Cancel Culture is, it seems to be very organized. And it’s not just protest. It’s trying to get people fired. I don’t mind people protesting, that’s fine. But if you set out to get someone fired … that’s very totalitarian.”

“The enemy of creativity is interruption,” Cleese continued. “And interruptions can come from inside, as well as outside. And if the moment you think of something you think, ‘Ooh, will that offend someone?,’ you’ve interrupted yourself and it will stop the creative flow.”

The “A Fish Called Wanda” star said “all moments” in his life “that have been important in forming” his personality “came when I suddenly had a realization that something I believed wasn’t the case.”

He said none of that would’ve happened if he had to deal with people around him “saying you mustn’t think like that.” Cleese said that you’ve got to “ignore the people who are trying to stop you from learning something new.”


“A lot of people are very frightened of getting fired, and that’s awful, getting fired,” he added. “There’s good and bad in all of us, and the moment you think you’re more perfect than you are, then that’s trouble. … And that’s why all this virtue signaling is so foolish now … they also need to know they have a nasty streak, too, because we all have.”

The famed British comedian has been very outspoken in the past about cancel culture, labeling the “wokes” the new “authoritarians,” as previously reported.

“Like all people who believe that are purer than they actually are, they are authoritarians,” Cleese previously tweeted. “Which is why all the best comedians make fun of them.”

Related: ‘Beware The ‘Wokes” : ‘Monty Python’ Alum Defends New Show Tackling ‘Cancel Culture’ And New ‘Authoritarians’

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