On the left, comedy is now officially and completely dead
If there’s one constant with leftists, it’s that they’re humorless. In 1939’s Ninotchka, Greta Garbo played a relentlessly serious Soviet commissar who heads to Paris, where she leaves communism behind—and, with that, she laughs. In 2022, leftist humorlessness has extended to censoring one of the funniest men alive, John Cleese. His sin? Pointing out that Blacks are not the only people who have experienced slavery.
John Cleese appeared in Austin, Texas, at the South by Southwest festival. He was on stage participating in a “comedy panel” with other comics when he pointed out, accurately, that we are currently witnessing cultural “competition” with the winner emerging as the most oppressed thanks to colonization. The comic, educated at Oxford back in the day when students actually learned things, pointed out that the history of the world is that the strong have dominated the weak:
History is a history of crime. It’s a history of people who were stronger beating up people who were weaker and it’s always been that. It’s deeply, deeply distasteful. But to pretend that one lot were worse than another – you do know the British have been slaves twice, right?
At this point, the other “comics” on the stage, tried desperately to keep Cleese from talking. The 82-year-old comic legend, however, had a riff and he wanted to complete it. Undeterred by their humorless interjections, Cleese continued. The Hollywood Reporter, which believed that something that would have made a perfect Monty Python sketch was “super cringey,” describes it this way:
“[People] get competitive about this business of being oppressed,” Cleese said (seemingly unaware he was doing exactly that). “We were oppressed, the English, by the Romans for 400 [years], from about 0 to 400.”
“You’re really going back,” marveled [Dan] Pasternack.
“This is getting so uncomfortable,” [Ricky] Velez said dryly. “[Is this the new] Dave Chappelle special?”
“I don’t want to have a struggle competition,” [Dulcé] Sloan said.
“I want reparations from Italy,” Cleese said drawing shocked gasps. “… and then the Normans came over in 1066 … they were horrible people from France and they came and colonized us for 30 years – we need reparations there too, I’m afraid.”
I can’t even imagine an audience gasping in horror over what’s a damn good joke. Perhaps I like it because I often point out that I too am the descendant of slaves. After all, there’s a whole book in the Bible devoted to my ancestors’ escape from bondage. Personally, I don’t have to go back that far for my borrowed victim status. My mother was a slave in a Japanese concentration camp...and never got reparations either. (Rim shot.)
Image: John Cleese, comic genius (edited). YouTube screen grab.
Pasternack then made a joke, which The Hollywood Reporter did not transcribe, about “playing the Jew card.” (Here’s an older post of mine about the incredible self-loathing that characterizes America’s modern Jewish comics.) When Cleese would have responded (and the story doesn’t say how), “Sloan stood up and confiscated Cleese’s microphone (temporarily, at least).” She justified it by claiming “I saved a comic whose career I respect.” She and Cleese hugged later.
I decided to check out the woman who would seize John Cleese’s microphone and discovered that she’s mildly amusing, incredibly vulgar and, to the extent she’s sharing a stage with John Cleese, really is, as she said of herself, “an affirmative action hire.” That she would grab the microphone of a man so senior to herself and one of the geniuses of modern comedy tells you everything you need to know about her. That Cleese would handle it graciously tells you everything you need to know about him.
The most ridiculous thing about all of this is that Cleese, although a leftist, has made it clear that he has no patience with the world of woke:
John Cleese has criticised the “stifling” effect of political correctness on creativity – saying there is no such thing as a “woke joke”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “PC stuff started out as a good idea which is, ‘Let’s not be mean to people’. and I’m in favour of that… despite my age. I think Jesus Christ would have agreed.
“The main thing is to try to be kind.
“But that then becomes a sort of indulgence of the most over-sensitive people in your culture, the people who are most easily upset.
“I don’t think we should organise a society around the sensibilities of the most easily upset people because then you have a very neurotic society.”
Leftism is a completely puritanical religion, the goal of which is to control people. In fact, it’s more puritanical than the Puritans themselves were, for it offers no hope to sinners. The concepts of remorse, repentance, and redemption don’t exist. Transgressors are dispatched instantly and forever. There is no oxygen for comedy in this world.
As a palate cleanser, here are two of my favorite, very politically incorrect, John Cleese moments: