John Cleese Points and Laughs. Should He Be Getting a Pass?

John Cleese Points & Laughs. Should He Be Getting a Pass?“Sorry if the tweet was a bit naughty.”

That’s walking the fence.

This is the apology from John Cleese following a tweet he made about Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee now facing murder charges, which said, “Oscar’s (defense) will be that he was absolutely legless* at the time.”

It appears that even though Huffington Post’s headline indicates followers are angry, there seems to be more comments supporting Cleese because “it’s comedy,” with a few people sprinkled in who are extremely upset.

He is a master with words. His apology covers it all.

On one side, for those of you who need an apology: there you go.

On the other side, for those of you who liked it: oh, it was just “a little bit” bad. It was “naughty.” As if it’s coming from a little boy who doesn’t really know what’s proper.

Some people said, “it was sad and stupid; bad form; very disappointed.” One person was heartbroken. Supporters defending Cleese tell them that “they need to relax; people are really too wound up; he’s. a. comedian.”

Most of the comedy I see is directed at an “action” someone takes; something someone “says;” or a larger issue—not at something someone has no control over.

I’ve been worried about making mistakes with sarcasm and humor because I have written a few things in the past couple of weeks and they made sense to me when I wrote them, then I realized after going back that someone might miss the sarcasm so I fixed them or removed them.

But I love the clever turn of the phrase, double-entendres, finding just the right words to bring a smile. Whether it’s political satire or screwball comedy, the intention is to make people laugh.

But I learned somewhere that it’s not okay to “make fun” of people who are disabled. It’s not okay to “point” and laugh. I also know that people who are disabled want to live their lives as though they aren’t and that certainly seemed to be the case with Pistorius.

He’s accused of killing someone. Is this a time to make jokes about someone’s disability? Isn’t something like this also called “kicking someone when they’re down?”

I’m sure Cleese will get an overall pass on this. He’s “famous.” Famous for “subversive and gleefully inappropriate humor.”

I’ve only watched a little of what Cleese has done because I didn’t find a lot of it funny. So I am not going back to look at any of it again because of this, which is sometimes the real motivation behind stunts like this—to gain new audiences.

I am going to spend my time working on my interests, pursuing an understanding of what makes something funny and what’s better off left unsaid, because, for me, comedy is one of the most satisfying aspects of writing when done well.

* Huffington Post offers a notation at the bottom of their article “John Cleese’s Oscar Pistorius Tweet Angers Followers” that this is an English expression meaning ‘drunk.’”

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