In a defiant stand against what he deems as “misreporting,” legendary comedian John Cleese has confirmed that the controversial and allegedly transphobic scene in the classic film “Life of Brian” will not be axed in the upcoming stage adaptation. Cleese, famous for his role in Monty Python, took to Twitter back in May to set the record straight.
“A few days ago, I spoke to an audience outside London. I told them I was adapting the ‘Life of Brian’ so that we could do it as a stage show (NOT a musical),” Cleese tweeted. “All the actors – several of them Tony winners – had advised me strongly to cut the Loretta scene. I have, of course, no intention of doing so.”
The scene in question involves a character named Stan expressing a desire to be called Loretta and to give birth. It was a statement that Cleese’s character, Reg, dismisses with humour. This snippet has recently come under scrutiny for being potentially offensive in today’s context.
Cleese has always pushed back against “woke” culture
Cleese’s decision to retain the scene comes after reports surfaced that he was pressured to drop it to cater to modern sensitivities. However, Cleese was quick to push back against such pressures, expressing disdain for what he saw as an overreaction.
“These were absolutely top-class Broadway performers, and they were adamant that we would not get away with doing the scene in NYC,” Cleese remarked. “Producers tend to be scaredy-cats, and they don’t remember that the protests in NYC when ‘Brian’ was released meant we never needed to do publicity!”
This is not the first time Cleese has found himself at odds with what he terms as ‘wokery’. The comedian, who faced accusations of transphobia in 2020 after defending J.K. Rowling, has been a vocal critic of cancel culture. In 2022, he argued that the fear of offending people stifles creativity. He said: “If you’re worried about offending people and constantly thinking of that, you are not going to be very creative. So I think it has a disastrous effect.”
Iconic scene to remain
Cleese’s stand against the removal of the controversial scene is in line with his broader stance on artistic freedom. He recently revived the sitcom “Fawlty Towers” and dismissed claims that the decision was influenced by ‘wokery.’
Refreshingly, “Life of Brian,” initially censored in various countries for its religious commentary, remains a cultural classic. The film, now over four decades old, continues to be a subject of debate. It highlighted the evolving standards of humour and the challenges faced by creators in navigating a more sensitive cultural landscape.
In a tweet, Cleese clarified his position, emphasising that his comments about considering the removal of the scene were misinterpreted. He stated, “I have, of course, no intention of doing so,” preserving the essence of “Life of Brian”.