Monty Python comedian John Cleese has described political correctness as “condescending” and said jokes about Muslim fundamentalists are problematic because they threaten to “kill you”.
The ever controversial comic told Bill Mayer on HBO’s Real Time, he used to make jokes about the French, Australians but never Mexicans as people are always “aghast.”
Maher leads into his questions by asking Cleese to “b**** about political correctness,” to which the 75-year-old readily responds.
“It starts as a half way decent idea and then it goes completely wrong and is taken ad absurdum,” claimed Cleese, going on to describe how he used to make “racial” jokes but eventually stopped because his audiences – he claimed – were appalled when he included Mexican-related jokes in his stand-up routine.
“Make jokes about Swedes and Germans and French and English and Canadians and Americans, why can't we make jokes about Mexicans? Is it because they are so feeble that they can't look after themselves?” He asks.
“It's very very condescending there.”
Maher, who has been heavily criticised in the past for comments regarding the Islamic faith, suggests there only people you are unable to make jokes about are “Muslims. Try that, see what your Twitter feed says.”
The comedian came back at Maher by explaining: “That’s not saying that you can’t, that’s just saying that they’ll kill you.”
Cleese, after emphasising he is only talking about Islamic fundamentalists, continues: “But the problem is, if you are going to make jokes about people who are going to kill you, there is a tendency to hold back a little.”
The comedian goes on to discuss religious fundamentalism and how “terribly important” it is to laugh and question individuals who take religious teachings “absolutely literally”.
An original member of Monty Python, Cleese has subsequently gone on to star in a number of films, and has released a book, So, Anyway..., detailing his childhood this year.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies