Veteran British comedian and actor John Cleese is disturbed by modern society’s rampant hypersensitivity and thus avoids visiting college campuses due to political correctness, he said in a recent video.
In a video for Big Think, which can be seen below, the Monty Python star said he, too, is often offended by things, but added: “I’m not going to expect someone to stop that from happening, I should simply speak out about it.”
“Sometimes when people are offended they want someone to come in and say ‘stop that’ to whoever is offending them,” he said. “There are some people I would wish to offend… The idea that you have to be protected from any kind of uncomfortable emotion is one I absolutely do not subscribe to.”
Cleese continued, “If people cant control their own emotions, then they have to start trying to control other people’s behaviors. When You’re around super-sensitive people you cannot relax or be spontaneous because you have no idea what’s going to upset them next.” He added:
That’s why I’ve been warned recently, don’t go to most university campuses because the political correctness has been taken from being a good idea—which is, let’s not be mean particularly to people who are not able to look after themselves very well, that’s a good idea—to the point where any kind of criticism of any individual or group can be labelled cruel. And the whole point about humor, the whole point about comedy—and believe you me, I’ve thought about it—is that all comedy is critical.
Even if you make a very inclusive joke—like, ‘How do you make God laugh?’ Tell him your plans’—that’s about the human condition, it’s not excluding anyone, it’s saying we all have all these plans that probably won’t come and isn’t it funny that we still believe they’re going to happen. So that’s a very inclusive joke, but it’s still critical. All humor is critical. If we start saying, oh, we mustn’t criticize or offend them, then humor is gone, and with humor goes a sense of proportion, and then, as far as I’m concerned, you’re living in 1984.
Cleese previously spoke out against political correctness on an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO in 2014.
He and Maher agreed that telling jokes about Muslims can be risky in a discussion of double standards protecting select groups from ridicule.
“Try that, see what your Twitter feed says.” Cleese said of ridiculing Islam, “that’s not saying that you can’t; it just means that they’ll kill you.”
He shared his thought process on telling jokes about Muslims: “The problem is if you make jokes about people who are going to kill you, there is a sort of a tendency to hold back a little. Isn’t there?”
Cleese is not the only comedian to speak out against hypersensitivity surrounding humor on college campuses.
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld told former ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd last summer he also avoids performing in front of young people.
“I don’t play colleges but I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘Don’t go near colleges, they’re so PC,’” he said.
Seinfeld concluded young people overuse words like “racist, “sexist,”and “prejudice.”
“They don’t even know what they’re talking about,” he said.