Did John Cleese Dream That Monty Python Was Canceled?

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Did John Cleese Dream That Monty Python Was Canceled?

John Cleese says that, during his early years writing sketch comedy, many of his best ideas came to him in his dreams. His decision to become a crotchety cancel culture complainer must have started in a nightmare.

In recent years, Cleese has become a magnet for controversy and hand-wringing regarding the rights of comedians to express alternative viewpoints and put forth possibly offensive ideas — or so he insists. Truthfully, Google searches of “John Cleese canceled” didn’t yield many results until the legendary performer began making bizarre claims of censorship at the hands of the U.K. media. For instance, Cleese claimed that the BBC had silenced Monty Python for political reasons, even after the channel aired Monty Python marathons, and he argued that his iconic absurdist comedy group was one of the earliest victims of cancel culture when Life of Brian drew allegations of blasphemy from certain Christian audience members upon its release in 1979. Cleese’s answer to the supposed persecution that silenced him in high-profile interviews and media statements was to jump in bed with GB News, a controversial right-leaning news outlet that has often been described as “U.K. Fox News.”

As a presenter for GB News, Cleese has the freedom to share his every thought without fear of censorship or pushback — and, fittingly, the iconic artist recently decided to turn his focus to the topic of creativity. Yesterday, GB News released Cleese’s conversation with the iconic author and lyricist Tim Rice wherein Cleese revealed that, during his early years in the student comedy group the Cambridge Footlights, his solution whenever he ran into a creative problem was to sleep on it, and, in the morning, the right answer would reveal itself to him. So An Evening with John Cleese could have been avoided with a simple nap.

Cleese has been especially creative in inventing situations wherein he’s the victim of censorship and persecution — like when he claimed that there were calls for him to cut a now (stupidly) controversial scene from a Life of Brian stage adaptation because he, himself, asked his actors if he should remove it — so it’s possible that Cleese spends a half-hour or so before bedtime thinking about all the possible ways one of the most wealthy, celebrated, high-profile and massively platformed performers in the history of comedy could be a victim in an attempt to Inception himself with persecution fantasies. 

Alternatively, perhaps it was a bout of insomnia that led to Cleese’s decision to launch an anti-woke Fawlty Towers reboot and a dose of melatonin between now and the beginning of filming could be enough to nix the idea. It’s truly impossible to know whether it’s too much sleep or to little that’s led Cleese down this path of insisting that the rise of “wokeness” is a material threat to his platform or livelihood. But as a life-long Monty Python fan, I’m still holding out hope that I will one day wake up from a coma to find that Terry Jones is alive, Terry Gilliam's Don Quixote movie didn’t bomb and Cleese’s grandkids never introduced him to Twitter.

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