Wokeism Is the Enemy of Comedy—and Creativity | John Cleese on The Reason Interview with Nick Gillespie

Check out The Reason Interview episode page


  • John Cleese (@JohnCleese) is an English actor, comedian, screenwriter, producer, author, and satirist of everything serious. He’s most famous for his lead role in Monty Python and other appearances in James Bond, Harry Potter, Shrek, and more!
  • John Cleese and Nick Gillespie discuss how wokeness is destroying the environment needed to foster creativity
  • Check out Cleese’s recent book: Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide – “You can teach people how to create circumstances in which they will become creative”
  • Host: Nick Gillespie (@nickgillespie)

Education vs. Creativity

  • “Couldn’t we do this better” is the fundamental impulse of the human condition
    • But our current education system doesn’t encourage this
  • The current education system teaches you “will power” rather than how to be creative
    • Will power is the ability to do something you don’t want to do
    • Anecdote: Cleese had an essay assignment about time. In comedic fashion, he wrote about how he didn’t have time to complete the essay. The teacher rejected the paper and said it was not within the assignment guidelines rather than embracing the unique approach.

How to be Creative

  • “I don’t think you can teach creativity, but you can teach people how to set themselves up for their own creativity to emerge” – John Cleese
    • Everyone can be creative. They just need the right environment for it to flourish.
  • “Creativity is all about getting out of a rut. If you’re under any kind of pressure, you will always resort to stereotypical thinking.” – John Cleese
    • Again, the expectations of your environment dictate the possible emergence of creativity
  • “When you’re playing with your imagination, you shouldn’t try to control it. You’re just seeing where it takes you because there’s no such thing as a mistake.” – John Cleese

Wokeism Interrupts Creativity

  • Wokeism is the internal interruption of your creativity
    • Is this idea going to get me in trouble?
  • “The woke people miss something quite badly. The meaning of a word depends on its context.” – John Cleese
    • For example: sarcasm and irony often flip the meaning of a word
  • “People are deliberately waiting for the thrill of being offended” – John Cleese
    • Change is scary. And this is how they choose to cope.
  • We are healthiest and happiest in a state of laughter (especially at our own expense)
    • “I’m not sure the wokes would ever laugh at themselves, no matter how hilarious they are” – John Cleese
  • “Is there any way to make politics funny?” – Nick Gillespie –> “You mean funnier?” – John Cleese
    • You can always have humor in a serious discussion, but not a solemn one—there is a difference
The Reason Interview with Nick Gillespie : , , , , , , ,
Notes By Drew Waterstreet

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