COLOGNE, GERMANY - OCTOBER 02: John Cleese receives his award for 'Lifetime Achievement International' during the 23rd annual German Comedy Awards at Studio in Köln Mühlheim on October 02, 2019 in Cologne, Germany.  (Photo by Joshua Sammer/Getty Images)
Movies - TV
John Cleese Sees A Major Limitation To The Art Of Improv Comedy
Whether audiences watch an improv show, a series of sketches, or a good ol' fashioned rom-com, the jokes are a light-hearted escape from reality and an important pillar of entertainment. Unfortunately, however, "Monty Python" co-founder John Cleese doesn't agree that all comedy formats are made equal.
Commenting on improv’s rise in popularity, Cleese said, "I don't know why it's considered a major art form. I don't mean that it's not interesting or skillful. But over the years all the comedians that I've respected [...] are people who put words down on paper and went on working on them until they felt they couldn't improve them anymore.”
Cleese continued, “That seems to me the most important and interesting part of comedy. The other is sort of a party trick, which I respect, but it doesn't seem to me that it should be regarded at the same level. ... [Improv doesn't] really build to any kind of dramatic climax or comedic climax.”
The comedy legend has spent an awful lot of time working on carefully crafted comedy scripts, so it makes sense that Cleese's committed to the format. After all, "Monty Python" drafts were written in pairs, then painstakingly workshopped by the rest of the troupe — and in all fairness, their hard work did pay off.