Still, he’s been picked for the job by Channel 4 which, on Monday, announced that he would lead a series titled ‘John Cleese: Cancel Me’, which purports to explore why today’s youth are “trying to rewrite the rules on what can and can’t be said”.
The announcement instantly divided opinion on Twitter, with some praising Cleese for entering the woke “mindfield”, and others questioning whether we really need his input at all.
Here’s a look at what critics have had to say about the prospect of the programme and its choice of host:
Definitely what this debate needs: another privately educated elderly cis white person with a series on a national… https://t.co/3HKkVYF1Ja
The term “cancel culture” has gained popularity in recent years and is the phenomenon of calling out, or “cancelling” people or brands, for perceived offensive behaviour.
In the series, Cleese will ask whether it is possible to make good comedy without someone taking offence, according to Channel 4.
He will also meet some famous faces who have found themselves on the receiving end of public opprobrium, as well as the people who are doing the “cancelling”, to investigate what is driving them.
Cleese, who rose to fame in the 1970s as a co-founder of the surrealist comedy group Monty Python, alongside Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Sir Michael Palin, has previously criticised the “stifling” effect of political correctness on creativity – saying there is no such thing as a “woke joke”.
Last year, he blasted the BBC when UKTV, which is owned by the corporation, temporarily removed one episode of Fawlty Towers over “racial slurs” and “outdated language”.
Addressing his new series, he said: “I’m delighted to have a chance to find out, on camera, about all the aspects of so-called Political Correctness.
“There’s so much I really don’t understand, like: how the impeccable idea of ‘Let’s all be kind to people’ has been developed in some cases ad absurdum.
“I want to bring the various reasonings right out in the open so that people can be clearer in their minds what they agree with, what they don’t agree with, and what they still can’t make their mind up about.”
Ian Katz, chief content officer of Channel 4, added: “The argument over what it’s OK to say and what isn’t is one of the thorniest issues of our age and there are few people better equipped to stride into it than John, a comic legend who combines genuine curiosity with a healthy disregard for what anyone thinks of him.”