John Cleese talks ‘Clifford’ and how ‘people wake up’ are ruining comedy

“ If you express a clear opinion, you will always annoy someone, ” says the British comedy legend

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John cleese could co-star in heartwarming new family movie Clifford the big red dog But that doesn’t mean he’s lost his scathing wit.


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the Monty Python The comedian recently got back on the road with his Why is there no hope tour, in which, among other things, he mocks the intractable idiocy of humanity.

“What I like about this stage of my career is that people who hate me don’t buy tickets,” the British comedy legend, who just turned 82, tells the Sun. “I have a preselected audience of people who like me and what I do. I don’t have to worry about awake people or anyone like that because there is no one in the audience. “

Waking people (are) trying to destroy everything that has to do with humor and is not really preparing people for the real world.

John Cleese fears awakening is ending comedy

After the coronavirus pandemic gave him an extended hiatus, Cleese returns to screens this week as a magical animal rescuer in Clifford , a live adaptation of the popular children’s books written by Norman Bridwell. He will also be seen in Cut the painter , which he recently filmed in Ontario, and the upcoming Christmas movie Santa claus is back .


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But with his story of a high school student (Darby Camp) who adopts a magical dog along with her wayward uncle (Jack Whitehall), Cleese says he was drawn to Clifford due to its ability to capture “fantasy and uncertainty” in the life of a young man.

“I think we need more (fantasy) in our world right now and a little less certainty,” he laughs.

The star of Fawlty Towers and A fish named Wanda It’s been busy for a man who just a few years ago said he hoped to retire to a villa on an island. But during a short video call from London, Cleese’s torrent of words suggests he’s far from slowing down.

What’s it like to be back on the road?

Doing the shows is the easiest part of a tour. The worst part of touring is air travel and luggage … The actual performance is the easiest part of the day.


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British comedy legend John Cleese, Monty Python's top Silly Walks Ministry official at Flying Circus, and easily irritated innkeeper Basil Fawlty, is introverted.
British comedy legend John Cleese, Monty Python’s top Silly Walks Ministry official at Flying Circus, and easily irritated innkeeper Basil Fawlty, is introverted. Photo from supplied photo

You returned to the screen this week in Clifford the big red dog. What made you want to be a part of it?

It was nice to play someone who is playful and a bit mysterious in a totally harmless way. Someone wise and optimistic. It was completely different from what I normally get. Also, frankly, it’s a lot easier to act out than comedy.

Comedy is much more difficult, which no one appreciates, least of all the people who vote at the Oscars. Being a good dramatic actor requires you to be credible and that’s it. A comedy actor has to be believable and then add all the comedy technique to that.

How has your approach to humor and comedy changed throughout your career?

I think as you move from medium to medium, he makes different calls to you. I made sketches for several years; and then after having been sketching for five or six years, I was drawn to writing sitcoms. Then finally I wanted to write movies and of course writing a movie is more difficult than writing a sketch and requires more skill and understanding. Then the changes in the media are stretched to you and you respond to them or you can’t.


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We apologize, but this video could not be loaded.

You mentioned the people who woke up from the beginning. Your comedy was a big part of my home growing up. Are people more sensitive to comedy nowadays?

I’m sure they are … If you express a clear opinion, you will always annoy someone. That is why politicians try not to say anything, because the moment you say something definitive, you have upset someone. It doesn’t particularly bother me. I hear why they’re upset, and sometimes I think, ‘Maybe that wasn’t quite right.’ But most of the time, I think, ‘No, people, especially awake people, are too sensitive.’ They are often sensitive in a way that I don’t really admire. There are many postures and signs of virtue … and it is very difficult for them to understand the irony. They think that if you say a word, that can be bad. No, the meaning of a word comes from its context, not from a dictionary. So if you are being ironic and sarcastic, you are using words that are the complete opposite of what you are trying to convey. This kind of subtlety is beyond many awakened people because I think many of them are literal minded and lack a sense of humor, which is a sense of proportion after all.


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British actor John Cleese arrives for the 23rd Sarajevo Film Festival on August 16, 2017.
British actor John Cleese arrives for the 23rd Sarajevo Film Festival on August 16, 2017. Photo by Elvis Barukcic /fake images

So what is the future of comedy?

I do not know. I think there are two things that are happening right now that are incredibly important. One is Trump’s Republicans trying to destroy democracy in America. The other is the people on the left, the awakened people, who try to destroy everything that has to do with humor and does not really prepare people for the real world. People who wake up are usually very sensitive and what I have found in my research is that many cognitive behavioral psychologists, who do a good job of dealing with anxiety and depression in young people, do the opposite of what they advocate. the people who wake up. In other words, people who are awake advocate certain ways of behaving and that makes these anxieties and depression problems worse.


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What is the best advice you have ever received?

When it comes to the world, the most important thing is to say to yourself, “This really doesn’t matter.” I think there are very few things that really matter, and they have to do with protecting your loved ones from harm. But I don’t think anything else matters that much. Now when I get angry about something, I say to myself, almost as a reflex, ‘But it doesn’t really matter. The moment I do that, my negative emotions subside.

Clifford the big red dog opens in theaters on Wednesday

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