Legendary comedian John Cleese has warned that woke ideology has not only been “disastrous” for comedy, but is leading to the “death of creativity” in general.
During an interview with Fox News, Cleese was asked if comedians today are allowed “the freedom to be funny,” to which he responded “no.”
Speaking from the site of the FreedomFest conference in Las Vegas, the Monty Python star said “There’s always been limitations on what they’re allowed to say.”
“Why, you go to Molière and Louis XIV. I mean, Molière had to be a bit careful. And there will always be limitations,” Cleese continued, adding “I mean in England, until some ridiculous late date like 1965, all plays had to be submitted to what used to be a part of the palace called the Lord Chamberlain, and he would read it and there were hilarious letters used to go back was saying ‘you may only say f— once,’ this sort of- ‘and you cannot say bugger. But you can say-‘ these sort of ridiculous negotiating letters.”
Cleese continued, “But I think it’s particularly worrying at the moment because you can only create in an atmosphere of freedom where you’re not checking everything you say critically before you move on.”
“What you have to be able to do is to build without knowing where you’re going because you’ve never been there before,” Cleese urged, adding “That’s what creativity is—you have to be allowed to build. And a lot of comedians now are sitting there and when they think of something, they say something like, ‘Can I get away with it? I don’t think so. So and so got into trouble, and he said that, oh, she said that.’ You see what I mean? And that’s the death of creativity.”
Cleese further asserted that wokeness allows the “critical mind” to dominate the creative, with the two “definitely in opposition to each other.”
“You can do the creation and then criticize it, but you can’t do them at the same time. So if you’re worried about offending people and constantly thinking of that, you are not going to be very creative. So I think it has a disastrous effect,” he urged.
While admitting that wokeness makes creativity impossible for younger people, Cleese noted “my audience is much older, and they’re simply not interested in most of the woke attitudes.”
Nevertheless the comedian admitted that he feels a “great sadness” that there are “very, very few really good” comedy shows around now.
Cleese has long been outspoken against cancel culture, previously slamming permanently offended woke people, insisting that they have no sense of humour and are contributing to the death of comedy.
Last November Cleese pulled out of a scheduled speech at Cambridge University, announcing that he was canceling himself “before someone else does,” as a form of protest against the woke ‘debating society’ at the University banning another guest, art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon, for previously impersonating Adolf Hitler.
The comedian also made headlines last year by tweeting out an ‘apology’ for using ‘white English people’ as the butt of the joke in past sketches, a reaction to The Simpsons actor Hank Azaria apologising for voicing an Indian character.
Not wishing to be left behind by Hank Azaria, I would like to apologise on behalf on Monty Python for all the many sketches we did making fun of white English people— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) April 13, 2021
We're sorry for any distress we may have caused
Cleese’s latest comments come as comedian Dave Chappelle had a show cancelled by a venue that capitulated to a woke mob on Twitter claiming Chappelle is ‘transphobic’.
Cleese’s Monty Python co-creator Terry Gilliam previously lauded Chapelle’s latest special, leading to Gilliam being canceled himself by the Old Vic Theatre in London for engaging in wrong think.
Fellow British comedian Rowan Atkinson, famous for portraying the characters Mr Bean and Blackadder, has also slammed the rise of a destructive cancel culture, describing online trolls trying to ban everything as “the digital equivalent of the medieval mob.”
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