Comedian John Cleese is defending himself after getting in some hot water with fans over a joke he posted about the ongoing California wildfires that many took to be in bad taste.
On Tuesday, the Monty Python star took to Twitter to share a story he claims happened to him while dining out in Sacramento, near Paradise where several people have been affected by the spreading flames that have claimed 48 lives, killed countless animals and destroyed many homes.
“Invited tonight to Sacramento restaurant called Lucca, by the owner Erin,” Cleese wrote on Twitter. “She said that last night several people came in to eat who were from Paradise, the place that just burned to the ground. She told me that they wanted everything they ordered flambeed. Magnificent…”
Fans were quick to note that the jocular tweet may not have been in the best taste given the fact that the fires are still spreading and negatively impacting several people in the state.
“I love a bit of droll too... but not this time @JohnCleese Not so ‘magnificent’ for the people who have lost their homes, their lives .... not to mention the tragic loss of wildlife. #HaveAHeart,” one user responded.
“Monty Python fan my entire adult life...but this was certainly in bad taste, Mr. Cleese,” another wrote.
“I can't tell if this is a joke in very poor taste or somehow a real story,” a third noted.
Cleese, however, responded to one of the negative reactions to note that he did not make the joke up, and that what he found “magnificent” was the fact that people affected by the tragedy are still able to find humor.
“But it was their joke, and they were the ones who had suffered,” he said. “That’s what makes it magnificent.”
Although Cleese’s comments sparked backlash from a number of those that read his tweet, it’s worth noting that there were several who commented in defense of the 79-year-old comedy actor.
“I'd bet that it is a true story. Tasteful or not, humour is one of the ways people cope with awful situations. If it's happened to them, they've every right - and probably serious need - to joke about it,” someone wrote in Cleese’s defense.
“Humor is the best medicine,” another user wrote.
“They have a British sense of humour. Good for them for looking on the bright side of life,” someone else noted, referencing the Eric Idle song that appeared in the Monty Python film “Life of Brian.”