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(Credit: Bruce Baker)

Film

John Cleese criticised for controversial slavery joke

@Russellisation

Monty Python star John Cleese isn’t opposed to a bit of controversy, having previously criticised political correctness in comedy over the past decade, believing anything and everything should be open to comedic analysis. 

More recently, however, Cleese had his microphone taken away from him after making a controversial joke about slavery during the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, alongside fellow comedians Jim Gaffigan, Dulcé Sloan and Ricky Velez. In a segment called ‘John Cleese in Conversation’, the actor and comedian started to discuss the “competition” between cultures, each battling to be the most “oppressed”. 

“[People] get competitive about this business of being oppressed,” Cleese commented, adding, “You do know the British have been slaves twice, right?”. 

At one point Dulcé Sloan took the microphone from Cleese and said, “I saved a comic whose career I respect,” before the Monty Python star continued, explaining: “I want reparations from Italy…And then the Normans came over in 1066… they were horrible people from France and they colonised us for 30 years and we need reparations there too, I’m afraid”. 

Unsuccessful in fully shutting down the comedian, Cleese didn’t get as much of a stage for the rest of the conversation, though did joke in his final remarks, “The thing is, I’m going to be dead soon. That’s why I’m in favour of global warming – I don’t want to be cold ever again”. 

Still appearing in modern movies, Cleese is next due to appear in The Martini Shot by director Stephen Wallis, where he will appear alongside Matthew Modine, Jason London, Morgana Robinson and Derek Jacobi.