John Cleese Says He Has ‘No Intention’ of Cutting ‘Loretta’ Scene in ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’ Stage Adaptation

The actor corrected reports that said he would omit the scene over a sensitivity to trans rights

OCTOBER 02: John Cleese attends the 23rd annual German Comedy Awards at Studio in Köln Mühlheim on October 02, 2019 in Cologne, Germany. (Photo by Joshua Sammer/Getty Images)
John Cleese attends the 23rd annual German Comedy Awards (Credit: Joshua Sammer/Getty Images)

“Monty Python’s Life of Brian” star and cowriter John Cleese claims he never said he would cut a scene that many consider offensive to the trans community from the upcoming stage adaptation of his 1979 film.

What’s become known as the “Loretta” scene features one of the male characters declaring that he wants to be a woman and he asks his friends to call him Loretta from then on. The punchlines therein rely on humor that has not aged well with transgender activists and allies, as the scene is dismissive of trans people.

Cleese wrote Thursday that at a table reading of his upcoming stage adaptation of “Life of Brian” last year, he was “advised” to cut the Loretta scene — a proposition that he has “no intention” of considering.

“A few days ago I spoke to an audience outside of London. I told them I was adapting the ‘Life of Brian’ so that we could do it as a stage show (not a musical),” Cleese wrote in a tweet on Thursday. “I said that we’d had a table-reading of the latest draft in NYC a year ago, and that all the actors — several of them Tony winners — had advised me strongly to cut the Loretta scene. I have, of course, no intention of doing so.”

In the scene from “Life of Brian,” the Loretta character says, “It’s my right as a man. I want to have babies. It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.”

Cleese’s character then protests, saying that it’s impossible for men to have babies because they don’t have a womb. (That is part of the sticking point for viewers today, as it’s understood that trans men can biologically bear children.)

“Don’t you oppress me!” the Loretta character responds. Watch the scene below.

Cleese’s tweets came in response to misreported claims that Cleese said at the speaking engagement that he would remove the scene in question. He said that “someone in the audience had called a journalist and misreported me. Amazingly, none of the British media called to check.”

Cleese also revealed that the “Bright Side” scene from “Life of Brian” would not be cut, contrary to reports.

“Untrue, for a very good reason,” he wrote. “We don’t want to upset Eric [Idle], and it’s his only contribution to the ‘Life of Brian’ script.”