If there’s one man who you can absolutely say is one of the Godfathers of comedy, it’s John Cleese. Famous for his work with surrealist comedy troupe Monty Python, classic sitcom Fawlty Towers and as Q in a number of James Bond movies, Cleese is one of those performers who changed comedy forever, and inspired a slew of imitators.
Back in the late 60s and early 70s, Cleese’s style of comedy was known for being rebellious, targeting authority figures, social hypocrisy, religion, classism, and other ingrained, conservative social values. It was this confrontational approach that made the various scenes and characters he created so vivid and appealing.
Now however, Cleese has claimed that comedy has a new enemy, and that instead of the older generation ruining everyone’s good time, the younger generation is too eager to police speech and avoid dispute or conflict. Yes, John Cleese believes that political correctness has gone too far and is now hindering performers and keeping audiences comfortable and unchallenged.
When Cleese and his fellow Pythons proposed The Life of Brian, a film set in Roman Judea during the time of Christ which lampooned and satirised various aspects of organised religion, the film was met with widespread criticism from the church and from moral guardians.
Despite this, Monty Python went ahead with the film and today it’s regarded as their best work. In 2014, Cleese stated in an interview with Bill Maher on HBO that he considered political correctness to be “condescending” as it only allows jokes to be made about certain groups while implying others need to be protected and cannot stand up for themselves. Personally, I think he has a point: comedians can’t create entertaining material if they’re continually walking on eggshells.
H/T: Big Think