John Cleese: Make your mark with humor

Monty Python legend John Cleese explains how to put a comedic stamp on your work at Big Think Edge.


Stephen Lovekin
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  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge to reach new creative heights and gain a competitive advantage.
  • In John Cleese's "Make your mark with humor" lesson, you'll learn how to put a comedic stamp on your work – even if you're not a comedian.
  • Humor is the perfect tool for connecting with others and communicating almost any point. When we're laughing, our senses are fully engaged – we tend to listen better and to remember what we're hearing.

We Can't Have Comedy and Be Politically Correct at the Same Time

The essence of comedy is being critical, says John Cleese, and that means causing offense sometimes. But we shouldn't protect everyone from experiencing negative emotions by enforcing political correctness.

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John Cleese says political correctness has gone too far, especially on America's college campuses, where he will no longer go to perform. The very essence of his trade — comedy — is criticism and that not infrequently means hurt feelings. But protecting everyone from negative emotion all the time is not only impractical (one can't control the feelings of another), but also improper in a free society. Cleese, having worked with psychiatrist Robin Skynner, says there may even be something more sinister behind the insistence to be always be politically correct.

If You Work in a Creative Industry, You Should Steal Other People's Ideas

Just as Shakespeare lifted plots from his predecessors, young performers today ought to focus on emulating those artists they like most.

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Just as Shakespeare lifted plots from his predecessors, young performers today ought to focus on emulating those artists they like most. That's not to say plagiarism is excusable; it's not. It just means that artists who are just getting started should seek to model themselves after those who have gone before.

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