Hoaxes & Rumors

Did John Cleese Write a Humorous Terrorist Alert Piece?

Did John Cleese Write a Humorous Terrorist Alert Piece?

Today we look at claims that British comic John Cleese wrote a humorous piece regarding terrorist threat levels following recent bombings.

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It was not written by Cleese.

Let’s first take a look at the piece being circulated in 2013:

And now for something completely (and very recently) written by John Cleese.



The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France ‘s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country’s military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbour” and “Lose.”

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be right, Mate.” Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!” and “The barbie is cancelled.” So far no situation has ever warranted use of the last final escalation level.

John Cleese
British writer, actor, and tall person

And as a final thought – Greece is collapsing, the Iranians are getting aggressive, and Rome is in disarray. Welcome back to 430 BC.

Life is too short…


The words above have been floating around in various forms since 2007. In its original incarnation, the part about Syria did not exist, and it appears to have originally been in response to the the July 7, 2005 bombings in London. Early versions appeared on forums without the “Syria” paragraph, and without Cleese’s name attached to it.

Celebrity Misattribution

It has become commonplace for a heavily-shared piece such as this one to become misattributed to an unrelated celebrity. Other examples include the Robin Williams Peace Plan and the Bill Cosby “I’m Tired” speech. Neither of those were penned by those celebrities either.

True Author

The most likely author of the piece is a man named John Humberstone, who posted the earliest known version to the NLP Connections forum on July 27, 2007. That web page is no longer available, but the screen capture below shows the original post:


Bottom Line

John Cleese did not write the humorous piece regarding terrorist threat levels. It was written in July 2007, most likely by John Humberstone who was the first person to post it.

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