John Cleese responds to claim his microphone was taken away after making a slavery joke

‘I saved a comic whose career I respect,’ ‘Monty Python’ star’s fellow panellist had said

Jacob Stolworthy
Wednesday 16 March 2022 15:28
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John Cleese condemns 'woke jokes' and 'political correctness' in comedy

John Cleese has hit back at a report that he had his microphone taken away from him due to a joke he made about slavery.

The Monty Python star, 82, appeared on a South by Southwest (SXSW) festival panel in Austin, Texas, which was celebrating his career.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cleese and his fellow panellists, including Dulcé Sloan, Jim Gaffigan and Ricky Velez, discussed the subject of “colonisation”.

This apparently prompted Cleese to talk about the “competition” between cultures, asking who suffered more oppression at the hands of colonisation.

“[People] get competitive about this business of being oppressed,” Cleese reportedly said. “You do know the British have been slaves twice, right?”

THR claimed that Sloan took away Cleese’s microphone, saying: “I saved a comic whose career I respect”.

However, Cleese and moderator Dan Pasternack have now claimed the microphone removal moment was done in a comedic manner, with the latter calling it “inspired and hilarious”.

After the mic was removed, the Fawlty Towers star is said to have continued: “I want reparations from Italy”, adding: “And then the Normans came over in 1066... they were horrible people from France and they colonised us for 30 years and we need reparations there too, I’m afraid.”

Pasternack is then said to have told the audience: “And this is why your phones are locked up.”

THR also claimed that some audience members found it “hard to know how exactly to take it”.

As reports of Cleese having his microphone “confiscated’ began surfacing online, the actor wrote on Twitter: “Next time the editor of the Hollywood Reporter sends someone to review a Comedy Festival he would do well to send a reporter with a sense of humour. Otherwise it’s like sending someone deaf to review a concert.”

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Cleese also responded to a follower who wrote: “John, I love ur humour man, but mockingly comparing getting reparations for things that happened 1000 years ago, to things that happened less than a generation ago is a flawed comparison. But u do u.”

John Cleese hits back at report following his appearance on a SXSW panel

The actor replied: “Quite right, Sajid. But that was the joke. The ridiculousness of the comparison was the joke. But if you lack a sense of irony, you might not realise that.

“But that’s not a good reason to deprive people who do understand irony of a good laugh.”

Cleese is releasing a documentary about “cancel culture”, titled John Cleese: Cancel Me, in November 2022.

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