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John Cleese says cancel culture has led to the “death of creativity”.
The 82-year-old comedy legend has come out in support of ‘Harry Potter’ author J.K. Rowling after she faced the wrath of cancel culture when she was accused of transphobia.
And the BAFTA winner has also mocked modern comedies for lacking creativity due to writers being fearful of insulting anyone.
During the FreedomFest conference in Las Vegas, the ‘Monty Python’ star told Fox News Digital: “There’s always been limitations on what they’re allowed to say.
“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. 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.”
He went on: “You can do the creation and then criticise 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.”
The ‘Shrek the Third’ star insists it all comes down to the audience and what’s appropriate.
He added: “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?
“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.”
Cleese says taboo subjects, such as sex, always get the biggest laughs.
He explained: “So I think you would think what the audience 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 humour 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.”
The former ‘Fawlty Towers’ star added how comedy films are all about making big bucks these days, rather than providing the biggest laughs.
He said: “What I feel now is that very few people understand how to plot the comedy, so the comedies in America are really aimed at young men because they’re the ones who go to the cinema on Friday night, which means that the box office looks good.
“And it’s all done ultimately to money because we now have studios that are more interested in money than in making great movies and in the old days, they wanted to make great movies too.”
Cleese added how 1988’s ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ is one of the last flicks in the genre he enjoyed.
It’s not the first time the writer has spoken out about cancel culture.
He previously criticised the removal of an episode of his classic 1970s sitcom ‘Fawlty Towers’ from streaming service UKTV due to a racial slur.