Comedy legend John Cleese has slammed wokeness for having a “disastrous” effect on the entertainment industry that is leading to the “death of creativity.”
English actor, comedian, screenwriter, and producer Cleese is an industry veteran who has been working in TV, movies, and theater since he got his first big break in the 1960s.
However, when asked by a Fox News reporter if comedians still have freedom to be funny in 2022, Cleese said, “No.”
“There’s always been limitations on what they’re allowed to say,” Cleese explained.
“Why you go to Molière and Louis XIV.
“I mean Molière had to be a bit careful. And there will always be limitations.
“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*ck once,’ this sort of- ‘and you cannot say bugger. But you can say-‘ this sort of ridiculous negotiating letters.
“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.
“That’s what creativity is—you have to be allowed to build,” the Monty Python star insisted.
“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.
“So I would say at the moment, this is a difficult time, particularly for young comedians, 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 and that’s no need to complicate it, you know?”
“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.”
“It wasn’t like this when I first got to America,” Cleese said of the polarization.
“When I first got to America in the 60s two things happened.
“First of all, I very much admired the cross-the-aisle friendships and thought we don’t have that in England.
“We have real battles between the Tories and the Labour, but in America there seems to be these- and this was destroyed by Newt Gingrich, quite deliberately, for purposes of power. I think that’s a tragedy.”
“If you go to a Republican convention and tell anti-Democrat jokes, you’ll get a very good response.
“If you tell anti-Republican jokes, you won’t.
“So you’ve got to fit your material to some extent to your audience. And that’s part of it.
“If you go to see your granny and to have tea with her, you don’t start telling her sex jokes.
“Now that’s not because it’s illegal, it’s just bad manners.
“So I think you would think what the audiences is and then you might shock them a little bit because that’s fun.
“And also, as I point out on stage, if you get into areas that are a little bit taboo, you actually get the biggest laughs, which is why sexual humor is often greeted with huge laughs when it’s not particularly funny.
“It’s to do with anxiety and the release of anxiety when people relax or laugh with spare energy that comes from the fact that they just laughed at something they’ve been anxious about before,” he said.
“Can you recall the last great comedy you’ve seen?” the reporter asked Cleese.
“‘Roxanne,'” Cleese chuckled, referring to the 1987 Steve Martin film.