John Cleese, the founder member of the legendary British comedy group Monty Python, recently shared his thoughts on cancel culture. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Cleese discussed his new GB News chat show “The Dinosaur Hour” and its upcoming episode on cancel culture. He specifically referred to Monty Python’s 1979 film “Life of Brian,” which caused controversy among some members of the Christian community upon its release.
Cleese expressed that Monty Python could be considered “early targets” of cancel culture. He explained how people dislike having their cherished ideas questioned or challenged, preferring to live within their own closed systems of thought. Cleese drew a parallel to the internet, highlighting the existence of echo chambers where like-minded individuals gather. According to him, comedy plays a crucial role in puncturing these bubbles and introducing fresh perspectives. However, he also acknowledged the challenges faced by comedians today, as controversial jokes can lead to lifelong bans that hinder creative expression.
When questioned about the compatibility of his famous comedy style with today’s times, Cleese emphasized the importance of adopting a creative mindset. He explained that creativity is not just a talent, but a frame of mind that requires overcoming fear and doubt. Cleese believes cancel culture restricts broad thinking and hampers the ability to make funny or intellectually intriguing connections. He highlighted the dangers cancel culture poses to culture as a whole and admitted that while he, as an established comedian, isn’t concerned about being canceled, it may be different for young comedians starting out in the industry.
Cleese also shared details about his new show, “The Dinosaur Hour,” and his partnership with GB News. He expressed gratitude for the creative freedom given to him by the network, stating that they offered him a rare opportunity where he could do exactly what he wanted. Cleese humorously compared the typical interference from TV executives to an accountant advising a novelist on how to write a plot. Despite acknowledging that not all GB News presenters share his opinions, he applauded the network for allowing him to be as silly or serious as he desires. Cleese even hinted at the possibility of a second series for “The Dinosaur Hour.”
In recent news, U.K. media regulator Ofcom conducted a broadcast standards investigation into GB News and found the channel to be in breach of impartiality rules. Cleese expressed surprise that GB News provided a platform to former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a fact he “can hardly believe.”