Comic icon John Cleese is no fan of cancel culture, and he’s putting his money where his mouth is.
Or, actually, he’s putting his legs there — and walking.
And not in the silly way.
As reported by Deadline, the 82-year-old Monty Python alum has 86’d his planned talk at Cambridge University.
John’s reason: the institution’s “woke rules.”
British historian and broadcaster Andrew Graham-Dixon recently spoke before the Cambridge Union Society.
During the presentation, he jokingly impersonated Adolf Hitler.
A selection from his mockery, as relayed by the Washington Examiner:
“This modern, horrible art that was promoted by the Jews…and the modern art, it was cubist — inspired by the art of the negroes. This tribal art, urgh, how horrible is that? We must expunge this from our Deutschland. … We are the pure, Aryan people. Our genetics is pure, our hearts must be pure, our tastes must be pure.”
The guest later clarified he’d intended to “underline the utterly evil nature of Hitler and his regime.”
But not everyone enjoyed the attempt.
In the aftermath, Cambridge Union President Keir Bradwell posted a letter to Facebook, in which he wouldn’t even mention Andrew by name:
“I would like to offer my unreserved apology for the comments made by a speaker in our debate on Thursday night. Neither I nor the society condones the thoughtless and grotesque language used by the individual in question… The speaker in question employed a crass and deeply insensitive impression of Hitler to make the point in opposition that there is such a thing as bad taste, and that therefore there must be such a thing as good taste. It was inexcusable, and I regret not intervening. …
“I believe strongly in the values of free speech that we have defended throughout our 206 years of existence. … But I know that on this occasion, I got the balance between my role as representative of our membership and facilitator of speech wrong. …
“The speaker came as a respected art critic, and there was no indication that he would make the remarks he made. I only wish we could have foreseen the remarks that he made and chosen someone else.”
According to BBC, Keir assured members thusly:
“We will create a blacklist of speakers never to be invited back, and we will share it with other unions too. Andrew will be on that list.”
Andrew volleyed with a statement of his own:
“In my speech, I caricatured [Hitler], briefly, paraphrasing HIS crass and insensitive statements about art and race. … Mr. Bradwell’s implication that I am racist and anti-Semitic by placing me on his list is utterly rejected, and in the context, surprising. The speech I gave was a strident attack on Hitler’s racism and antisemitism.”
Keir isn’t the only one unamused; count John Cleese among that group.
But to John, the one being “grotesque” is Cambridge.
The actor, as it turns out, has a satirical goose-stepping past:
Evidently, he also did as much on Monty Python.
So in response to Cambridge canceling Andrew, John is canceling them. Call it a preemptive strike:
I was looking forward to talking to students at the Cambridge Union this Friday, but I hear that someone there has been blacklisted for doing an
impersonation of Hitler
I regret that I did the same on a Monty Python show, so I am blacklisting myself before someone else does
— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) November 10, 2021
“I apologize to anyone at Cambridge who was hoping to talk with me,” he tweeted, “but perhaps some of you can find a venue where woke rules do not apply.”
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
— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) November 10, 2021
It’s not the brilliant comedian’s first stance against modern comedic sensibilities.
In July of last year, the master of the silly walk pointed out that the point of a joke is that…it’s a joke:
“Everything humorous is critical. If you have someone who is perfectly kind and intelligent and flexible and who always behaves appropriately, they’re not funny. Funniness is about people who don’t do that…”
As I’ve indicated before, I don’t think we have jokes anymore.
There are too many things to take seriously.
In 2018, BBC Head of Comedy Shane Allen dismissed the Monty Python comedy troupe, saying the middle class “Oxbridge white bloke’s” day is done.
Whether or not he was wrong, he was right.
‘If you’re going to assemble a team now, it’s not going to be six Oxbridge white blokes. It’s going to be a diverse range of people who reflect the modern world,” Shane said.
And if it’s at Cambridge, it’s also not going to be Andrew Graham-Dixon.
Subsequently, it will neither be John Cleese.
Mr. Cleese believes people should be able to take a joke.
But one joke he can’t take…is wokeness.
Humor is definitely evolving.
In just a short period of time, we’ve gone from this…
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