John Cleese had his microphone taken away after making a controversial joke about slavery.
The Monty Python comedian was taking part in a “John Cleese in Conversation” event at SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, on a panel alongside fellow comics Dulcé Sloan, Jim Gaffigan, and Ricky Velez.
As the comics were talking, the conversation segued into jokes about colonisation. Cleese began to discuss the “competition” between cultures, asking who suffered more oppression at the hands of colonisation.
“[People] get competitive about this business of being oppressed,” Cleese said. “You do know the British have been slaves twice, right?”
Many in the audience at the event on 11 March were shocked by his comments.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, at one point, Sloan took away Cleese’s microphone, saying: “I saved a comic whose career I respect”.
However, Cleese continued: “I want reparations from Italy.”
He continued: “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.”
After the other comics were unsuccessful in shutting down Cleese’s rant, moderator Dan Pasternack told the audience: “And this is why your phones are locked up.”
In a final explanation of his remarks, Cleese said: “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.”
Cleese has since hit out at the report.
SXSW continues until 20 March.