John Cleese has poked fun at Hank Azaria after the actor said sorry for voicing Apu in The Simpsons, issuing a mock apology of his own for “making fun of white English people”.
Azaria has previously said he has regrets about voicing the animated show's Indian character, who has been accused of perpetuating harmful stereotypes, and admitted this week that Apu is “practically a slur” now.
Monty Python star Cleese responded with his own seemingly teasing apology, saying he was sorry if had caused any “distress” in his own work.
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“Not wishing to be left behind by Hank Azaria, I would like to apologise on behalf on Monty Python for all the many sketches we did making fun of white English people,” he said on Twitter.
“We're sorry for any distress we may have caused.”
Azaria voiced Apu for close to 30 years but in recent years the character has come under scrutiny, with 2017 documentary The Problem With Apu exploring the negative aspects of its impact.
The actor has since stepped down from the role.
He apologised again this week as he was interviewed on the Armchair Expert podcast.
“I was speaking at my son’s school, I was talking to the Indian kids there because I wanted to get their input,” he said.
“A 17-year-old boy, he’s never even seen The Simpsons, but knows what Apu means.
"It’s practically a slur at this point.
"All he knows is that this is how his people are thought of and represented to many people in this country.”
“I really do apologise,” Azaria added. "It's important. I apologise for my part in creating that and participating in that.
"Part of me feels like I need to go round to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologise, and sometimes I do."
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