Tag Archives: Cleese

At Last the 1948 Show Live in Chicago!

1948 Top of the Class photo

It’s the moment that I’ve been waiting for–At Last the 1948 Show Live! is opening for the first time ever, at the iO Theatre in Chicago! Shows begin at 7:30 Friday, Sept. 8, and end on Sept. 15. If you’ve ever wondered what John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Marty Feldman would be doing if they had been born 50 years later in Chicago with ovaries, this show will answer your rather strange questions. And our special guest star is Camilla Cleese, who is no relation to Graham, Tim, or Marty.

For more information and to order tickets, click here. And to see more with Camilla Cleese in the Chicago Sun-Times, click here or to watch her on WGN, click here.


At Last the 1948 Show–Live!

1948 Show poster

I’ve been waiting a long time to make this announcement, and at last I can tell you what I’ve been working on lately.

Have you ever wondered what sort of comedy show John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Marty Feldman would be writing if they had been born 50 years later in Chicago with ovaries? Well, wonder no more.

Coming soon to Chicago’s iO Theatre is the first-ever stage production of At Last the 1948 Show, fully authorized by John Cleese, and directed by yours truly. It will star Camilla Cleese and a cast of Chicago’s finest sketch actors, along with yours truly.

I’ll be writing more soon about this once-in-a-lunchtime production, but if you want more information or a link, here’s a link, or just keep reading:


After 50 years of preparation, rare sketches from one of British television’s silliest shows are being presented in America for the very first time for two weeks only.

At Last the 1948 Show—Live” is written by John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Marty Feldman, and the cast is headed by Camilla Cleese (who is no relation to Chapman, Brooke-Taylor, or Feldman), with Isabeau Dornevil, Iris Kohler, Lauren Lonergan, Kristen Lundberg, and Lauren Pizzi—an all-female cast (if you don’t include Kim “Howard” Johnson, Michael McCarthy, and Bill Russell, although they are also in the cast).

The live show is produced and directed by Johnson in association with Wing Commander Muriel Volestrangler, F.R.H.S. and Bar, and the iO Chicago.

At Last the 1948 Show” aired on British television in 1967. Afterward, the network realized they could save a little money by recording over these comedic masterworks, and it was only through the tireless efforts of Wing Commander Volestrangler and others that copies have been found and scripts reconstructed. While a few of these sketches were later re-recorded by Monty Python, and others can be found in the darkest corners of the internet, many simply don’t exist anymore. But now, Chicago audiences can experience them live on stage for the first time ever.

Camilla Cleese, with Isabeau Dornevil, Iris Kohler, Lauren Lonergan, Kristen Lundberg, and Lauren Pizzi—an all-female cast (if you don’t include Kim “Howard” Johnson, Michael McCarthy, and Bill Russell)

Call 312 929-2401 to purchase tickets or purchase them online.


Forty years ago this week (on December 5th, 1974, to be precise), the BBC broadcast Show 45, the last original episode of @montypython. John Cleese has since departed for more Fawlty Pastures, but to me, the opening sketch of the final show still ranks as one of their funniest. Take a look here and see if you agree…

#montypython #johncleese #soanyway

A Thoroughly Biased Look at “John Cleese: Last Time to See Me Before I Die”

JC showAn evening with John Cleese is like sitting down with an old friend and a cold vodka and tonic. You know you’re going to have an enjoyable evening–the only question is, how enjoyable?

Most of the audience for John Cleese: Last Time to See Me Before I Die will be familiar with at least some of his work, usually Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, or A Fish Called Wanda. And they will unquestionably get their moneys’ worth with stories and film clips featuring the best-loved bits and co-stars. But just as enjoyable are the stories and clips of lesser-known but just as hilarious shows and friends. Who knew that his mother Muriel would be discussed as much as Monty Python? And get just as many laughs?

John settles into a comfy chair as he discusses both his parents, growing up in Weston-super-Mare, which was inexplicably bombed during World War II, how he got into show business, touring New Zealand, beginning work at the BBC, and early friends and idols like Marty Feldman, David Frost, and Peter Sellers. He hits on all of the successes that one would expect, but also explains his love of black comedy (one of the few things he had in common with his mother). He gleefully relates several practical jokes played on Michael Palin (including one that backfires deliciously), and tries to explain the late Graham Chapman, his friend and writing partner. The show moves along at a rapid pace, and he packs in plenty of stories, seasoning it with just the right amount of photos and film clips.

I suppose a disclaimer is due here: I’ve known and been friends with John since the ’70s, so I am a bit prejudiced. However, after seeing it several times, I was delighted to see the virtually universal enthusiastic audience reaction.

At risk of being labelled a sycophantic fanboy (which, when dealing with John and the Pythons, is a badge I wear with honor), he deserves the adulation; he works hard to ensure that his performance is word-perfect, going into the theatre early to hone phrases and check photos and cues. The result speaks for itself.

After wrapping up the Canadian Tour, John Cleese: Last Time to See Me Before I Die will be touring Australia early in 2014. I’ll post more about it when it gets closer to the time.

Oh, and how enjoyable? Very enjoyable indeed.

A Good Month for Canadian Cleese fans

John Cleese rehearses!

When I was working for John Cleese, I often urged him to put together a one-man show. He agreed it was a good idea, but never seemed to have the time to organize it. Eventually, faced with the need to pay out an atrocious amount of alimony for too many years, he found the time, and his fans and his ex-wife are the better for it. He’s performed it in various places, trying it out in New Zealand (where, as he put it, if it was a disaster, no one would likely ever hear about it)–and playing it in Scandinavia, Australia, even a few California dates. Now it’s Canada’s turn, where the Halifaxians and Torontons have seen it, and he’s working his way west even as I write this. The bad news: most shows are already sold out, so if you’re in that Great Northern neck of the woods and want to see it, you’d better move fast. But if you’re in Edmonton with nothing to do, try this, but do it quickly. And if you have a great deal to do, but can still get to Edmonton next week, cancel your plans and go see the show anyway. As of this writing, it looks like there are a few tickets remaining for one of the October 5th shows, which would be a great way to celebrate Monty Python’s 44th anniversary.

Why am I writing about it now? Because I finally, at long last, had a chance to see the show. It exceeded my expectations, which were pretty high to begin with. I’ll write a short, completely biased review soon, along with a backstage look at the show.