Canadian Cleeseheads

I told you these events would sell out quickly. John’s appearance in Victoria is sold out. There are still tickets for Nov. 8 in Toronto, and Nov. 14 in Vancouver, but you’d best act quickly! And tickets include a signed copy of #Soanyway …

JC Book cover

We’re walking…

Good news for those who have been waiting: The Ministry of Silly Walks game has now been released on Windows Phones and Windows 8 Desktops! I can't wait to show John Cleese how to play it! Here's the info...

Cleese, Cats, and Taylor Swift…

John Cleese and Taylor Swift both appeared on The Graham Norton Show (part of John’s publicity blitz to promote his autobiography, #soanyway…). Fans might know that John is a huge cat lover. And I suspect it’s general knowledge that Taylor Swift is not known for her sense of humor. Keep these two facts in mind as you watch the following…

Jan Hooks

Shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Jan Hooks. When I used to spend time out at SNL in the late 80s and early 90s, she was one of the most talented members of a talented group, which included Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon, Nora Dunn, and Dana Carvey, among others. jan hooksI can’t say I knew her at all well, but I knew enough to say that  she was as nice a person as she was talented. And that’s saying a lot.

iO Class 10-14
I spent the weekend substitute teaching for Michael McCarthy's writing classes at the iO. Here, I'm showing the Sketch-writing class Monty Python's Joke Warfare/Funniest Joke in the World Sketch as we study editing (an appropriate choice on the Python anniversary weekend, I thought). 
This was my first time teaching in the new building, and I'm still amazed just walking into the place. I always have to think back to the crumbling, barely building-code legal Crosscurrents cabaret, where the iO (then ImprovOlympic) first started; to say it's come a long way is hugely underestimating it.
I highly recommend anyone in the Chicago area stop by for first-class improvisation (or, in the case of Dave and TJ's Mission Theatre, first-class sketch comedy), and stick around for drinks and dinner as well. It's only been a couple of months in the new building, but it's fast becoming a landmark. In fact, it's the Great Wall of China of Improvisation. Go now and thank me later.

Where it all began…

…On this, the 45th anniversary of the first telecast of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, it seems appropriate to watch the first scene of the first show recorded (though it was broadcast second). While Terry Jones and Graham Chapman were performing this, John Cleese was in the wings with Michael Palin, saying “You know, it’s possible that this will be the very first comedy program that doesn’t get a single laugh.” Fortunately, he couldn’t have been more wrong…

 

Twenty-five years. A quarter of a century. That’s how long ago Graham Chapman was snatched away from us after his battle with cancer on October 4, 1989.
Graham
It doesn’t really seem possible, because Graham seems more alive than ever. He was much-remembered in the Monty Python Live (Mostly) reunion show at the O2 last summer. And, John Cleese does an excellent job of bringing his old writing partner back to live in the pages of his upcoming autobiography So Anyway

But of course, none of that can replace the living, breathing, squawking man that so many of us know and love, and I count myself fortunate to have so many personal memories. I try to blog an occasional Graham story and should do so more often. For instance…
Graham and his son John Tomiczek were in Chicago over a long weekend, when Graham was on one of his lecture tours. I had met up with them, as I usually did, showing them some of the more interesting people and places, catching up, and having a good time in general. Not long after they arrived, they made an unfortunate discovery: the hotel did not provide laundry service over the weekend. None of the other options had a sufficiently short turn-around time, and they wouldn’t have a chance to get their laundry done before leaving town. They had been counting on this and were down to the last of their supplies. When I arrived at their room, Graham was concerned enough to mention it to me. Don’t worry, I assured him, I know what we can do. And so, we piled into my car, laundry in the trunk, and headed to my parents’ house in Ottawa, Illinois.
About two hours later, we arrived late in the afternoon, and my parents were apparently about to leave to go out for dinner. But when Graham walked in, their plans went out the window. We all sat down and visited for a few minutes, and I explained their predicament. Dinner plans went out the window and my mother, bless her heart, immediately began doing their laundry. Shortly after that, I took Graham and John out to show them the sights of Ottawa, which did not take terribly long. But when we arrived back at my parents’ house, the laundry was finished. “She even folded everything!” admired John, as indeed she had, down to the socks and underwear. Graham and John were tremendously grateful, and we packed things up and went back to Chicago. I later told the story to Michael Palin, who dubbed her “Marge Johnson, Laundress to the Stars!”
It’s hard to imagine what Graham would be up to now if he were still with us (though I’m sure he’d be more organized with his laundry). Still, I can’t help thinking how unfair it was that he wasn’t about to join the other five at the O2. But I can tell you this: for the limited number of days he had, Graham lived each one to the fullest.