Tag Archives: John Cleese

Pythonic Paragraphs

Been a while since I checked in with any Python news (or any 
news at all, for that matter).
Unfortunately, two of the three items today are sad ones.
Most folks have probably heard of the death of Kenny Baker,
best known to most as R2D2, but better known to Terry Gilliam fans as
Fidgit of Time Bandits. Here's a little more information
courtesy of the Monty Python web site, as well as a tribute by
Terry G and Michael Palin:http://www.montypython.com/news_kennybaker/373
And Flying Circus fans hold Fred Tomlinson near and dear to
their hearts. The leader of the Fred Tomlinson Singers passed
away in July, with more information here:
I don't think I ever met him (although we were apparently
at some of the same parties); but if his singers did nothing
more than back up the Pythons on Lumberjack Song and Spam (and
they did plenty more than that), I would owe him a huge debt
of gratitude.
Finally, some very good news indeed. My old boss and dear
pal John Cleese is receiving the Rose d'Or Lifetime
Achievement Award in Berlin in September for a lifetime in
entertainment. Well deserved and congratulations John; more
information is here:  
Glad I could end with a happy story!
Python stamp

Australia’s loss is Tahiti’s gain: Happy BD Eric!

Born March 29, 1943, that makes him…I’ll let you do the math. The most important thing is that @ericidle is celebrating another birthday following a frighteningly successful tour of Australia with another tall, humorous British gentleman. And to think I knew #ericidle before he was a hashtag. Happiest of birthdays and welcome to middle age! #montypython


Good news, Cleese news…

The bad news is when your phone rings right in the middle of your Python Process class at the iO Chicago.

The good news is when it’s John Cleese calling, and he offers to talk to your students on speakerphone.

He answered questions about writing, and delighted and inspired the whole group. All classes should be like this. Thanks, John!


Fawlty Report

Fawlty TowersJohn Cleese is looking to have a very busy 2016. In addition to everything else on his schedule, including an Australian tour with Eric Idle (which I wrote about here), filming a movie, scripting a Feydeau farce for a possible West End production, and lots of writing, The Daily Telegraph is now reporting that a stage production of Fawlty Towers will be opening in Australia in August.

I haven’t had a chance to confirm this yet with @johncleese, but this would undoubtedly be similar to a very successful Scandinavian production that was presented recently. John has found a way to stitch together three episodes of @fawltytowers into a full-length play, and will doubtless be down under overseeing the production this summer. No, John and the rest of the cast of the original TV series won’t be on stage, but if John is involved, this will be good.


Gilliamesque Regards

I don’t think I’ve written anything about Terry Gilliam’s new autobiography, Gilliamesque (which @johncleese was kind enough to buy for me a couple of weeks ago), but I can’t think of a better day to mention it. First of all, happy birthday Terry! Secondly, this is a pretty amazing book, down to the art directed scrawling on the borders of the pages. I always thought I knew a lot about Terry’s life, but I was amazed at the Zelig-like events of his youth even before he left for England. And did you know that Terry is the only one of the Pythons who ever had acting lessons? Gilliamesque

He’s managed to cram a lot into this volume, but it could have been twice as long and I would have come up begging for more. So on this @terrygilliam birthday, buy yourself a present. If you’re at all a Gilliam fan, or a @montypython fan, you’ll love Gilliamesque.

#montypython #johncleese #terrygilliam

Crooked and hypocritical politicians are celebrating.

Apparently, I’m shaken enough about Jon Stewart’s announcement (leaving @thedailyshow) that I’m feeling the urge to blog about it. Although his contract is up later this year, I thought his return was a sure thing, even if Comedy Central had to back up another truck each payday. Letterman and Colbert didn’t bother me as much as I’d thought, possibly because I knew we still had the most important host with us. But now?

Larry Wilmore is doing a fine job and I enjoy his show, but he’s still growing into it. John Oliver is doing a terrific job, but he’s locked into an HBO contract and we only see him once a week (would he have quit Daily Show last year if he’d even had an inkling that Jon Stewart was leaving this year? I have to doubt it. It also seems to indicate that Stewart only make the decision recently).


Regular readers of this blog know that I was at the Daily Show with John Cleese in November, and based on the very little I could see, everything looked happy and orderly, and it all seemed to run like a well-oiled machine. Perhaps that gives us hope that whoever steps into those massive shoes just may be able to carry it forward even a fraction as well as Jon Stewart has done.

My Python Process class today at the iO Chicago discussed stealing sketches. John Cleese highly recommends it as a method of learning to write them (see his autobiography So, Anyway…), and he takes his own advice. In fact, he stole a sketch previously written by Graham Chapman and himself for the eighth episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Here’s the original sketch. Any guesses what it turned into?

@montypython #Montypython #soanyway #improv

My Python Process class at the iO did another typically fine job with their sketch-writing, so I rewarded them by showing the very first episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. I did do a bit of annotation, telling them the story of Peter Sellers’ milkman after “The Mouse Problem” sketch. Their homework this week was inspired by a suggestion from John Cleese’s So, Anyway… And next week I’ve got something very special planned involving an early sketch virtually unknown in the U.S. (Or Britain, for that matter.)

JC Book cover

@montypython #montypython #johncleese @johncleese #soanyway

One of the many, many highlights of traveling with @johncleese during the North American @soanyway book tour was interviewing him on stage at the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove, Illinois. And, one of the highlights of getting to interview him was reading a 1948 Show sketch. It’s so funny that even I couldn’t screw it up. Take a look here…