Creativity incredibly ‘neglected' in modern-day life

Actor John Cleese was speaking at the Pendulum Summit in Dublin.

Actor John Cleese has said creativity has become incredibly neglected and needs to be embraced by everyone.

The comedian also said the power of play should not be underestimated and said it could be an important tool to provide an escape from the pressures of everyday life.

Mr Cleese made the comments at the Pendulum Business and Self-Empowerment Summit in Dublin on Thursday.

He said it was lovely to be in Dublin: “This is not showbiz shit. I really love it because the Irish we all know that you’re all slightly mad.

“We all admire you for that. I wish we had a little more of it in Britain.”

The Fawlty Towers star said: “There’s something playful about the Irish.

“Relaxed, playful quality. It is terribly attractive.

“I think that’s why you’ve produced so many brilliant artists.”

He added: “The extraordinary thing is during the whole time you were in school you probably never had a single lesson in creativity.”

SHOWBIZ Programme/Monty Python
The crew of Monty Python’s Flying Circus (L-R) Terry Jones, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin (PA)

“It’s absolutely extraordinary that teaching people how they be creative isn’t part of our education. It’s insane, incredible, how neglected it is.”

Mr Cleese said being playful was key to creativity, as was not being scared of making a mistake.

“The greatest mistake of all is the rigidity you get when people are scared of making mistakes,” he said.

The Englishman added that embracing the creative process was more important than every because everyday life was so full of interruptions.

“It is full of interruptions, it is full of responsibilities…play has to be an escape from the pressures of everyday life.”

He added: “No hurried thinking is allowed when you’re trying to be creative. When you’re really playing there’s no sense of urgency.”

The 79-year-old, who came to fame with Monty Python, said the comedy sketch show was a perfect example of allowing the creative process to flow.

“The first sketch Graham (Chapman) and I ever wrote was an example of this because we sat down and I used to read words out of the thesaurus and see if they led anywhere.

Pendulum Summit Dublin
John Cleese (Conor McCabe/PA)

“I remember saying cumber (then) plummet.”

During the brainstorming that ensued Mr Cleese said his then co-star pondered that  a sheep would plummet if he tried to fly.

“If you just play in that stupid, unrestricted way thoughts will sometimes come and that led to the flying sheep sketch which was the first sketch we ever did in Monty Python.”

He said if people adopted this creative approach they would get new ideas.

“They won’t necessarily be good new ideas they may be terrible ideas that’s why you’ve to bring your critical faculties in at a later stage to evaluate them. ”

The Fawlty Towers actor said he lived with his wife and his four Maine Coon cats that weigh about 25lb each.

Maine Coons are one of the largest domesticated cat breeds.

“They’re absolutely wonderful cats and unlike children when they grow up they don’t blame you,” he said, before adding he should not be making such jokes in a Catholic country.

“Well an ex-Catholic country,” he said.

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