Beloved British comedy troupe Monty Python was pressured to do away with a skit from their classic film ‘Life of Brian’ that jokes about a man wanting to become a woman and have babies, co-founder John Cleese told an audience at his one-man show last week.
“We love the script, but you can’t do that stuff about Loretta nowadays,” performers conducting a read-through of the Biblical parody last year supposedly told Cleese, claiming the skit – in which the character Stan insists on being called ‘Loretta’ and declares “it’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them” – would offend modern audiences.
“So here you have something there’s never been a complaint about in 40 years, that I’ve heard of, and now all of a sudden we can’t do it because it’ll offend people,” Cleese lamented. “What is one supposed to make of that?”
In the skit, Stan’s comrades in the People’s Front of Judea are split on whether to support ‘Loretta’s’ new identity, and the self-declared woman accuses his detractor of “oppressing” him.
“I’m not oppressing you, Stan, you haven’t got a womb! Where’s the fetus gonna gestate? You gonna keep it in a box?” his friend asks.
The lone female of the group, Judith, suggests a compromise. “Suppose you agree that he can’t actually have babies – not having a womb, which is nobody’s fault, not even the Romans’ – but that he can have the right to have babies.”
Stan’s friend Reg likes that idea, declaring it’s “symbolic of our struggle against oppression” – while the naysayer mutters it’s merely “symbolic of [Stan’s] struggle against reality.”
The film version of ‘Life of Brian’ was previously banned in some countries for its supposedly blasphemous subject matter, being a profoundly irreverent satire on the Biblical stories chronicling the life and times of the Christian messiah Jesus Christ.
The 2024 stage show adaptation, set to open next year in London, will reportedly excise the film’s crucifixion scene, in which the characters sing the incongruously catchy and upbeat tune ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ while the messiah character Brian is being executed.
Eric Idle, another founding member of Monty Python, clarified in a tweet on Friday that he was not involved in the stage show version after British Comedy Guide referred to “Cleese and Idle” having made changes to the original script.
Cleese last year complained that “cancel culture” had had a “disastrous effect” on comedy and had even caused the “death of creativity,” explaining that “if you’re worried about offending people and constantly thinking of that, you are not going to be very creative.”