Legendary Comic John Cleese Agrees With Me: 'Woke' Is Killing Comedy

Edmond Terakopian

I’ve written about it before. “Woke” is butchering comedy.

The legendary John Cleese agrees and has been very vocal about it lately.

Cleese, 82, was the keynote speaker at last week’s FreedomFest in Las Vegas. He spoke about political correctness being a dagger in the heart of creativity, especially for newer comedians.


Fox News digital asked Cleese if today’s comedians have the freedom to make jokes. He responded with a simple “no”.

He then spoke of the history of censorship in showbiz.

There’s always been limitations on what they’re allowed to say. Why, you go to Molière and Louis XIV. I mean Molière had to be a bit careful. And there will always be limitations. I mean in England, until some ridiculous late date like 1965, all plays had to be submitted to what used to be a part of the palace called the Lord Chamberlain, and he would read it and there were hilarious letters used to go back was saying ‘you may only say f*** once,’ this sort of- ‘and you cannot say bugger. But you can say,…  this sort of ridiculous negotiating letters.

Cleese continued,

But I think it’s particularly worrying at the moment because you can only create in an atmosphere of freedom, where you’re not checking everything you say critically before you move on. What you have to be able to do is to build without knowing where you’re going because you’ve never been there before. That’s what creativity is—you have to be allowed to build. And a lot of comedians now are sitting there and when they think of something, they say something like, ‘Can I get away with it? I don’t think so. So and so got into trouble, and he said that, oh, she said that.’ You see what I mean? And that’s the death of creativity. So I would say at the moment, this is a difficult time, particularly for young comedians, but you see, my audience is much older, and they’re simply not interested in most of the woke attitudes. I mean, they just think that you should try and be kind to people and that’s no need to complicate it, you know?


As usual, Cleese is correct.

FACT-O-RAMA! Cleese, a comedic icon, is smarter, funnier, and more successful than every comedian I know.

Woke vs. Funny

“You can do the creation and then criticize it, but you can’t do them at the same time,” Cleese expounded. “So if you’re worried about offending people and constantly thinking of that, you are not going to be very creative. So I think it has a disastrous effect.”

I’ve been a comedian for 33 years. I’ve seen the transformation myself. There was a time when, if conservatives didn’t like a joke, they simply wouldn’t laugh. Worst-case scenario, they’d walk out. Today, if a comedian cracks a ha-ha that the non-binary, freakshow woke brigade doesn’t like, may God protect them and their career. They’ll have you working at a car wash and then burn down the car wash for hiring you.

Cleese has been battling wokeness in comedy lately. During a South by Southwest (SXSW) staged appearance with three other comedians, Cleese made a couple of jokes that made the wokesters cranky. In a discussion on colonization, Cleese said this,

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?

After a bit of discussion, Cleese continued with the following:


“People get competitive about this business of being oppressed. We were oppressed, the English, by the Romans for 400 [years], from about 0 to 400.”

At this point, the Austin, Texas, hipsters in the audience began to get triggered (I like to use the word “trigger” because lefties hate guns).

“I want reparations from Italy,” Cleese joked. “And then the Normans came over in 1066. They were horrible people from France and they colonized us for 30 years and we need reparations there too, I’m afraid.”

That’s when Ducle Sloan, a 38-year-old comedian I’ve never heard of, decided it was her place to snatch the microphone out of the hands of a legend.

“I saved a comic whose career I respect,” Sloan quipped, with Obama-like narcissism.

The brouhaha continued later via Twitter.

FACT-O-RAMA! When Cleese was asked about the last great comedy he has seen, he mentioned two Steve Martin movies, Roxanne and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, both of which are from the ’80s.

Just as I began to think that comedians like Joe Rogan and Dave Chappelle might be the death knell to wokeness, Chappelle had a venue cancel his appearance hours before it was set to start on Wednesday. Being the most popular comedian in the world today, he easily found another theater.


The woke venue “First Ave” released the following statement via social media:

To staff, artists and our community, we hear you and we are sorry. We know we must hold ourselves to the highest standards, and we know we let you down. We are not just a black box with people in it, and we understand that First Ave is not just a room, but meaningful beyond our walls.

The new venue, Varsity Theater, happily brought in Chappelle for three nights of real comedy–and what we can safely assume is a hefty payday. Maybe Chappelle will kill “woke” after all.



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