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Comedy legend John Cleese had his microphone confiscated at the South by Southwest festival during a comedic discussion in which he suggested Italy and France owed historic reparations for enslaving Brits.
The Monty Python icon, 82, was riffing with other comics in front of the crowd in Texas when he talked about the ‘competition’ between cultures over who has been more oppressed by colonisations throughout history.
Pointing to world history being ‘a history of crime’, he added: ‘It’s a history of people who were stronger beating up people who were weaker and it’s always been that. It’s deeply, deeply distasteful.
‘But to pretend that one lot were worse than another – you do know the British have been slaves twice, right?
Cleese explained: ‘[People] get competitive about this business of being oppressed. We were oppressed, the English, by the Romans from about 0 to 400.’
Despite the event being labelled a ‘comedy panel’, his remarks sparked horrified reactions and an awkward environment for those in attendance.
At one stage Cleese even had his microphone confiscated by American comic Dulcé Sloan, who said she did it to ‘save a comic whose career I respect’, per The Hollywood Reporter.
‘And now you saved the colonizer,’ Pasternack said. ‘I saved a comic whose career I respect,’ Sloan fired back.
Comedy legend John Cleese landed himself in hot water during his own event when he jokingly suggested Italy and France owed historic reparations for enslaving British people
Cleese rebutted claims that the British Empire was the first to colonise communities from other states throughout his 90-minute performance entitled ‘John Cleese in Conversation.’
The British comic insisted England was owed ‘reparations’ from both Italy and France, referring to the historic invasions of the Romans, and 1000 years later by the Normans under William the Conqueror.
‘I want reparations from Italy’, he told the stunned crowd. ‘And then the Normans came over in 1066… they were horrible people from France and they colonised us for 30 years and we need reparations there too, I’m afraid’.
The Monty Python icon, 82, drew shocked gasps from the South by Southwest crowd in Texas. He is pictured above (fourth from left) alongside moderator Dan Pasternack, and comics Dulce Sloan, Jim Gaffigan and Ricky Velez
His fellow comedians speaking at the event, Jim Gaffigan, Dulcé Sloan and moderator Dan Pasternack all unsuccessfully attempted to draw Cleese away from his rant.
Pasternack even explained to the audience at one point: ‘And this is why your phones are locked up’.
As tempers started to flare, Sloan grabbed out and temporarily confiscated Cleese’s microphone to cheers and applause from sections of the audience, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
Speaking after the ordeal, Cleese explained his actions by saying: ‘The thing is, I’m going to be dead soon. That’s why I’m in favour of global warming – I don’t want to be cold ever again’.
To which Pasternack jokingly replied: ‘Where you’re going you won’t be!’
Source: Daily Mail