Political correctness has never been one of comedian John Cleese’s strong suits, and his willingness to confront taboo topics head-on is part of what makes his work with Monty Python and on Fawlty Towers so groundbreaking. But as comedy is in the midst of a cultural reckoning, humor that was once considered cutting-edge is being reevaluated and, at times, censored, as Cleese has found out the hard way. So, as The Guardian reports, the 81-year-old comedian is about to embark on a quest to better understand the current climate with a new docuseries titled John Cleese: Cancel Me.
According to The Guardian:
The new documentary will reportedly explore “why a new ‘woke’ generation is trying to rewrite the rules on what can and can’t be said.”
John Cleese: Cancel Me will see the British comedian and actor meet various subjects who claim to have been “cancelled” for their actions or statements, and activists who have led opposition to various public figures.
Cleese is no stranger to controversy. In June 2020, the BBC-owned streaming service UKTV removed an episode of Fawlty Towers titled “The Germans,” in which a character named the Major used the N-word. In an interview with The Age, Cleese claimed that censoring the episode was missing the point entirely, noting: “The Major was an old fossil left over from decades before. We were not supporting his views, we were making fun of them. If they can’t see that, if people are too stupid to see that, what can one say?” (The episode was made available again shortly thereafter.)
As for this latest project, Cleese issued a statement noting:
“I’m delighted to have a chance to find out, on camera, about all the aspects of so-called political correctness. There’s so much I really don’t understand, like: how the impeccable idea of ‘Let’s all be kind to people’ has been developed in some cases ad absurdum.
I want to bring the various reasonings right out in the open so that people can be clearer in their minds what they agree with, what they don’t agree with, and what they still can’t make their mind up about.”
Just last week, according to Variety, a fan tweeted Cleese asking whether they needed to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to attend a show on his upcoming U.S. comedy tour. Cleese’s reply? “No, you just need a certificate promising that you have not attended specifically to be offended.”
(Via The Guardian)