April 13, 2024

John Cleese spent Boxing Day courting controversy on X (formerly Twitter) after he posted a joke in which he compared Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler. The joke rubbed many of the comedian’s followers the wrong way, prompting Cleese to issue several responses in which he somewhat trolled those who took his post as fact and didn’t realize he was clearly messing around.

The joke featured Cleese listing “five ways Hitler was preferable to Trump” (“1. He fought for his country 2. He never used a teleprompter 3. He was nice to dogs 4. He wrote his own books 5. He never played golf 6. He wasn’t a big fat slob”), following by “five ways Trump is preferable to Hitler” (“1. He doesn’t practice genocide 2. He has nicer hair 3… 4… 5…”). It was clearly a joke for Cleese, but many of his followers weren’t laughing.

Almost immediately, Cleese issued an apology post: “I would like to apologize for my last tweet. It was a very bad joke, especially on Boxing Day.” It was posted just for minutes after the original post, which suggests Cleese surely knew backlash was inevitable and wanted to get ahead of it.

The joke courted controversy as predicted. Cleese began reposting followers who defended his right to make the joke (“Wow, there’s a shitload of folks on here who need to develop a sense of humor,” one person wrote) and responding to those who took his joke as a factual statement.

“It seems like you’re saying that you prefer Hitler to Trump,” one follower responded to Cleese. The comedian fired back: “The literal minded are always with us. It’s a shame, because they miss so much.”

Another follower wrote to Cleese: “I mean the genocide one sorta brazenly overshadows all of the first list, doesn’t it?” He responded: “Ah! You spotted the weakness in my thinking Really smart…”

“We must never forget that the literal-minded have no grasp of context,” Cleese later posted in response to a fan who wrote amid the backlash: “John is a comedian. This is meant to be a joke.”

When one fan asked why Cleese would post such a joke, he answered: “Because I’ve never tried to amuse the simple-minded There are plenty of comics who do, and you will enjoy them.”

“John, I love you and your volumes of work, but disappointed in this tweet,” another follower wrote. “It’s low hanging fruit and something a 15 year old keyboard warrior would write not one of the greatest comedic minds of the past 100 years.”

“Some people thought it was very funny,” Cleese said in return. “But they have a sense of context. Easily solved. Just don’t follow me any more.”

Cleese has been keeping busy in recent months thanks to his newly-launched chat show “The Dinosaur Hour” on GB News and the continued development of his “Fawlty Towers” reboot.


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