The world is wearing panties, and they’re in a wad.
What happened to our Big Boy pants?
The 80’s are often described as a fun decade; the 70’s, a cool one. I’d say we’re starting off the 2020’s with neither virtue.
And those are virtuous — what good is life if it isn’t enjoyable? So far, we appear to be braving the Year of Misery.
And that’s thanks in part to the decade preceding it, rife with growing animus toward America and a clampdown on free speech.
As for that last one, society’s currently peaking courtesy #CancelCulture.
The great John Cleese had a thing or two to say about such in a recent interview with Reuters, and the Monty Python man is right on the money.
If you can’t poke fun at things, you can’t much be funny. And we’re living in the age of safe spaces and talk of “pain” if someone utters words not enjoyed or agreed upon by all.
As noted by John, “Everything humorous is critical.”
“If you have someone who is perfectly kind and intelligent and flexible and who always behaves appropriately, they’re not funny. Funniness is about people who don’t do that…”
“Like Trump,” he added.
It’s not a bad example — if the President wasn’t as wild as he is, you’d likely never have laughed while watching. And I know you have, at points along the way.
But our current climate’s no laughing matter — we’re in the midst of people being brutalized for saying things as innocuous as “I support the police.” In such a state, how can comedy exist? And who’d wanna do it?
On the global stage, progressively, humor has gotten the hook.
Case in point: Last month, the BBC pulled an episode of the beloved Cleese-featured sitcom Fawlty Towers. The problem: The installment, as per John, “made fun of Germans and World War Two and also featured a character using a racial slur.”
The actor called the move “cowardly and gutless.”
Political correctness is killing comedy, according to the studio and state legend, because comedians “have to set the bar according to what we are told by the most touchy, most emotionally unstable and fragile and least stoic people in the country.”
Nail, meet head.
And it’s not the first time he’s spoken out.
From The Daily Wire:
In 2018…BBC’s Head of Comedy Shane Allen criticized the classic comedy troupe Monty Python for being too white, male, and middle class.
“If you’re going to assemble a team now, it’s not going to be six Oxbridge white blokes,” Allen said. “It’s going to be a diverse range of people who reflect the modern world.”
BBC's Head of Comedy puts Monty Python's lack of originality down to a surfeit of education and racist bias
Unfair ! We were remarkably diverse FOR OUR TIME
We had three grammar-school boys, one a poof, and Gilliam, though not actually black, was a Yank. And NO slave-owners
— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) June 20, 2018
Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam got in on that action as well, while speaking at the Karlovy Vary Czech film festival:
“It made me cry: the idea that…no longer six white Oxbridge men can make a comedy show. Now we need one of this, one of that, everybody represented.”
Terry had a succinct way of summing it up:
“This is bulls—.”
And not only that — Gilliamm solved his own problem:
“I no longer want to be a white male, I don’t want to be blamed for everything wrong in the world: I tell the world now I’m a black lesbian. … My name is Loretta and I’m a BLT, a black lesbian in transition.”
“[Allen’s] statement made me so angry, all of us so angry,” he said.
Humor ain’t done well by committee:
“Comedy is not assembled, it’s not like putting together a boy band where you put together one of this, one of that everyone is represented.”
So where are we headed with the outrage over all things “problematic?” Not anywhere near a comedy renaissance any time soon, I would guess.
But good lord, we need one.
Boy, do we need one.
Lead the way, John. And keep fighting for funny.
And for all you who haven’t seen enough of Cleese’s genius, in addition to Monty Python — both the television show and its subsequent movies — I recommend you check out the fantastic films A Fish Called Wanda and Fierce Creatures (also starring MP’s Michael Palin).
What are your JC favorites? Let us all know in the Comments section.
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