John Cleese Says ‘Disastrous’ Woke Culture Is Killing Comedy

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Comedian John Cleese held nothing back as he blasted the current state of the entertainment industry, saying comedy has been ruined by the “woke culture” and it’s having a “disastrous effect.” He then issued an ominous warning.

John Cleese
Comedian John Cleese (Credit: YouTube)

Legendary comedian John Cleese wasn’t holding anything back when he addressed the current state of comedy and how the rules of the game have been completely affected by the need to be politically correct. Cleese, who considered himself a “Liberal Democrat” in the U.K., was also a major supporter of Barack Obama in 2008. However, that all changed.

By 2016, Cleese switched gears and supported the Brexit campaign. He blacklisted himself as a protest of “cancel culture” over a Hitler impersonation controversy in England. While speaking at FreedomFest in Las Vegas, the Monty Python star highlighted the need to cultivate creativity and warned that “wokeness” is threatening the future of entertainment.

John Cleese with his mother Muriel (Credit: Screenshot)

Cleese said the problem starts with the word “woke” itself and ends with the fear it generates, where entertainers are scared of being canceled. “The woke people seem to have no real understanding of meaning because a word or a phrase — what its meaning is — depends on its context and not on its dictionary definition,” Cleese told the Babylon Bee, saying that woke culture compromises truth in an attempt to gain attention.

Cleese also explained that woke culture gives space to the “critical mind” to suppress creativity. “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,” Cleese told Fox News. “What you have to be able to do is to build without knowing where you’re going because you’ve never been there before. That’s what creativity is — you have to be allowed to build.”

John Cleese
John Cleese as Sir Lancelot the Brave in the 1975 classic comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Credit: YouTube)

The British comedian also explained how his colleagues in comedy are hindered by these “woke” cultural restraints. “A lot of comedians now … when they think of something, they say something like, ‘Can I get away with it? I don’t think so,'” he said. “‘So and so got into trouble, and he said that, or she said that.’ You see what I mean? And that’s the death of creativity,” he warned.

Cleese also claimed the age of the audience comes into play, and it is tougher for young comedians. “At the moment, this is a difficult time, particularly for young comedians,” he said. “But you see my audience is much older, and they’re simply not interested in most of the woke attitudes. I mean, they just think that you should try and be kind to people … no need to complicate it, you know?”

John Cleese
John Cleese during his stand-up comedy routine (Credit: YouTube)

The Monty Python star also took aim at comedy shows, saying, “Everything is more … politicized now.” including American late-night comedy television. He added that, while he “adores” Stephen Colbert, the far-left host’s audience is “more obviously politically aligned than it used to be.”

The comedic veteran also admitted to Fox News that he doesn’t even watch comedy very often anymore. “I don’t go to comedies much because when you spent your life in comedy — by the time you get to 55 years in comedy — you’ve heard most of the jokes,” he told the cable network. “And you watch people, you think, ‘Yeah, that’s funny,’ but I have better things to do this evening than to watch comedy. I don’t need to be entertained. I’d rather read a book.”

John Cleese “blacklisted himself” by withdrawing from an event at the Cambridge Union as a way to protest “cancel culture.” According to The Guardian, “The move by the Monty Python and Fawlty Towers star was in protest after the debating society banned art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon for impersonating Adolf Hitler.” Cleese had been due to address the union but withdrew, saying he had also impersonated Hitler in a Monty Python sketch.

“I regret that I did the same on a Monty Python show, so I am blacklisting myself before someone else does,” Cleese wrote on Twitter. “I apologise to anyone at Cambridge who was hoping to talk with me, but perhaps some of you can find a venue where woke rules do not apply,” he concluded — and perhaps, it’s time other comics consider doing the same until the masses realize that censoring creativity is a sure-fire way to kill comedy as he warned.