Cleese on political correctness, Hicks, etc.

by Brian McKim & Traci Skene on March 24th, 2012

In an interview in the Manchester Evening News, John Cleese says some interesting things. We were made aware of the article by one of our commenters, “Paul,” who slipped in a link at the end of his last comment.

Says Cleese, in describing his new one-man show:

“One of the things I do, I tell a number of jokes, a joke against Australians, one against Americans, one against English, one against the Swiss, one against the Germans, and then I start telling a joke: ‘There were these two Mexicans..’. And in America, the whole audience freezes. I point out that it’s kind of patronising. If you make jokes about Germans and Australians and English, why can’t you make jokes about Mexicans? Because they can’t take care of themselves? Because they are a feeble species that has to be specially protected?”

This is something we’ve been grousing about for a long time. The selective nature of political correctness has driven us batty and we contend that it played a large part in “killing comedy” (or, to put it another way, it destroyed some of live standup’s momentum and much of the politically correct criticism of the genre was illegitimate and undeserving).

Political correctness is, says Cleese, “like a maiden aunt– you’re all having fun at Christmas, and she walks into the room and it all goes quiet”

It “all goes quiet,” indeed.

We’ll leave you with a quote from H.L. Mencken:

I think the Negro people should feel secure enough by now to face a reasonable ridicule without terror. I am unalterably opposed to all efforts to put down free speech, whatever the excuse. ––from a letter to George S. Schuyler, June 15, 1931.