Posted by Richard Willett - Memes and headline comments by David Icke Posted on 3 May 2024

John Cleese says ‘literal-minded’ people have ruined comedy because they ‘don’t understand irony’

‘Literal minded’ people have ruined comedy by failing to understand ‘metaphor, irony and exaggeration’ and missing the punchline, John Cleese has claimed.

Speaking ahead of the launch of his stage adaptation of classic British comedy Fawlty Towers, Cleese revealed the difficulties he had getting the script off the ground with concern about how some language would be received by viewers.

Cleese, 84, explained some of the original dialogue used within the two-hour play, which merges three popular episodes into an overarching storyline, has been edited to remove ‘racial slurs’ due to changing perceptions within society.

‘I think there was a scene where Major (Gowen) used a couple of words you can’t use now, racial slurs they would come under, so we took that out’, he told journalists on Thursday.

‘You see, there is always a problem with comedy that you deal with the literal-minded.’

The play is based on episodes across the sitcom’s two series titled The Hotel Inspector, Communication Problems and The Germans, which originally features a scene in which the Major Gowen character uses offensive language about the West Indies cricket team.

In 2020, the episode was briefly removed from UKTV’s streaming service, which is owned by BBC Studios, due to the ‘racial slurs’ before it was later reinstated with added guidance and warnings highlighting ‘potentially offensive content and language’ featured.

Speaking on the challenges of writing comedy, Cleese said: ‘Whenever you’re doing comedy, you’re up against the literal-minded, and the literal-minded don’t understand irony.

‘And that means if you take them seriously, you get rid of a lot of comedy because the literal-minded people don’t understand metaphor, they don’t understand irony, and they don’t understand comic exaggeration.

‘The result is, if you listen to them, these are people who are not, as far as understanding what other human beings are saying and doing, they’re not playing with a full deck.’

He also defended the central character within the 1960s comedy Til Death Us Do Part, Alf Garnett, who made offensive remarks, saying that viewers were ‘roaring with laughter at him, not with him’ but also acknowledged that some were saying, ‘Thank God these things are being said at last’.

Cast members of the new Fawlty Towers play, which sees Adam Jackson-Smith take on the classic role of Basil, performed two scenes during the launch of the show, which will begin previews at the Apollo Theatre Shaftesbury Avenue on Saturday.

The play will also see Anna-Jane Casey portray Basil’s wife Sybil, Hemi Yeroham play Spanish waiter Manuel, Victoria Fox as waitress Polly and Paul Nicholas as the Major.

The original TV programme, written by Cleese and his former wife, Connie Booth, ran on BBC Two for two series in 1975 and 1979.

Read More: John Cleese says ‘literal-minded’ people have ruined comedy because they ‘don’t understand irony’

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