John Cleese Throws Slavery Curveball That Leaves Panel Baffled, Says Brits Deserve ‘Reparations’


Taylor Giles Contributor
Font Size:

British comedian John Cleese claimed his people are owed reparations for oppression throughout history during an event Friday night at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.

Cleese was joined in a “comedy panel” by fellow comedians Jim Gaffigan, Dulcé Sloan and Ricky Velez during the event, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Dan Pasternack moderated the panel.

The conversation began with Sloan, a black comedian and “Daily Show” correspondent, joking about colonization, reported The Hollywood Reporter.

Cleese responded by saying that people “forget the British Empire was the basic political unit of organization for 6,000 years – the British didn’t start [colonizing],” according to the outlet.

“We know, but ya’ll did it so well,” Sloan said. “It’s the reason I’m here! I’m not supposed to be here!”

“We gave you free passage, too,” Cleese shot back at Sloan.

Cleese then became more serious.

“History is a history of crime. 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 said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“The Dutch are the problem,” Sloan said to try and move on to another topic, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“My people were slaves too, you know,” Cleese added, reported The Hollywood Reporter. “[People] get competitive about this business of being oppressed. We were oppressed, the English, by the Romans for 400 [years], from about 0 to 400.”

“This is getting so uncomfortable,” Velez said to Cleese’s comments, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “[Is this the new] Dave Chappelle special?”

Cleese doubled down and suggested the British are owed reparations. (RELATED: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Demands ‘Reparations’ For Families Separated At The Border Under Trump)

“I want reparations from Italy,” Cleese said, reported The Hollywood Reporter. “… and then the Normans came over in 1066 … they were horrible people from France, and they came and colonized us for 30 years – we need reparations there too, I’m afraid.”

Sloan responded to Cleese’s comments by taking his microphone away, which drew mixed reactions from the audience, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“And now you saved the colonizer,” Pasternack said.

“I saved a comic whose career I respect,” Sloan replied, according to the outlet.