‘Self-cancelling’ is a great way to boost your profile – just ask John Cleese

If you try and try but still can’t get cancelled, then just cancel yourself. Your career will thank you for it

Katie Edwards
Wednesday 10 November 2021 17:43
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John Cleese condemns 'woke jokes' and 'political correctness' in comedy
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You know that sinking feeling when you’ve agreed to an event but then, as it draws closer, you realise you just can’t be bothered? Or maybe you’re feeling a bit neglected and you’re craving some attention? If you’re a celeb, maybe you need to remind the populace that you’re still around.

Maybe you need some media exposure – you know, a few TV interviews and maybe a radio programme or two? Well, have I got a life hack for you. Around 48 hours before the forthcoming event, send a tweet saying you’ve cancelled yourself. Imply that you’re taking a moral stand against the tyranny of “wokeism”. Take a disappointed, angry but resigned tone. Et voila! Not only have you managed to get yourself out of an engagement, but you’ll also position yourself as a victim and give yourself a nice little profile boost to boot.

People will actually congratulate you on pulling out of an event at short notice! Some will celebrate you as edgily counter-cultural. It’s a win-win. I know, I know. It might be disingenuous. It might be appallingly cynical, but, hey! If it works, it works. You’re welcome.

For those of you who’ve missed it, and there can only be a few of you, self-cancelling is the latest trend in celebrity profile enhancement. The latest celeb to give it a whirl is national comedy treasure John Cleese. Cleese took to Twitter to write a Dear John letter to… well… himself. He was, he says, looking forward to speaking to students at the Cambridge Union on Friday, but alas, the Fawlty Towers legend can’t fulfil his obligation. Is he ill? Does he have a family emergency? No. I’m sorry to report that Cleese can no longer attend the speaking engagement because he’s been cancelled. By himself.

Gosh. This does seem to be a terrible turn of events. Which of our comedy heroes will be the next victim of a self-created wokeism storm. Which of our cultural icons will be forced to cancel themselves apropos of… erm… absolutely nothing!? This is a sad day for free speech. A sad day indeed.

In his tweet, Cleese alludes to the “blacklisting” of art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon for impersonating Hitler during a debate about “good taste” earlier this month. Cleese says he also impersonated Hitler decades ago during his time as a member of the Monty Python team and so decided to “blacklist” himself “before someone else does”. An hour later, he followed up with a further tweet: “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.” Pow! Bam! Take that, woke brigade!

This cancel culture schtick does seem to be a rum do. Rather than actually “cancelling” public figures, it seems to have quite the opposite effect. Cancelled celebs can look forward to a heightened public profile and possibly even a media tour so that millions of viewers and readers can get to tut over the horrors of cancellation. As in the case of Cleese, complaining about cancel culture could even land a TV deal for a new Channel 4 show titled… yep. You guessed it. Cancel Me.

Cleese’s tweet is so daft that it can only be a prank for that forthcoming show, but I’ll tell you what, whatever’s going on with Cleese, being cancelled doesn’t half work wonders for your platform. You get to be a victim of the dreadful wokeists and posture as a moral crusader and noble defender of free speech while benefitting financially from media attention.

Who wouldn’t want to be cancelled? And, if you try and try but still can’t get cancelled, then just cancel yourself. Your career (and bank account) will thank you for it.

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