Tag Archives: Monty Python

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.

 

Happy Birthday Michael!

Palin globesA ridiculously Happy 74th to Arthur Putey, Mr. Gumby, the It’s Man, Cardinal Ximenez, Heinrich Bimmler, Mr. Pither, Sir Galahad the Pure, Ex-Leper, Ken Pile, Luigi Vercotti, Debbie Katzenberg. And so many more…

 

PythonProv and the Python Process

My Python Process writing class and PythonProv improvisation classes at the iO Chicago are getting ready for their graduation shows, and I couldn’t be prouder. If you want to see why I’m so happy with them, stop by the Jason Chin Cabaret at 7 pm at the iO Tuesday, April 18 for PythonProv, and next Sunday night at 7 pm at the Chris Farley Cabaret at the iO. You will laugh.

School’s In…

If you’ve been putting off taking classes at the iO Chicago, wait no further. A new session is starting, and if you’re not careful, you may even find yourself in one of my classes. Beginning Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 6:30, I’ll be teaching Talk Show Packet (part of Michael McCarthy’s writing program), in which, if you put in the time and the work, you’ll find yourself with a packet of material to submit to your favorite TV talk show!

But that’s not all. Next Sunday will be the first session of both of my Monty Python-inspired classes, The Python Process and PythonProv. The former will show you how to use the same writing techniques utilized by the members of Monty Python to improve your own sketch writing. It’s a great adjunct to Michael’s SNL Sketch class, and we’ll present a show at the end of the eight-week session! And let’s not forget PythonProv, a brand new type of long form improvisation in which you’ll learn how to perform Python-influenced improv.

If you’re interested, you’ll need to contact the iO very soon to sign up, and please let me know if you have any questions.

 io Old sign

 

Happy Birthday Graham

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Been a little while since I’ve posted. Sorry. In the past month, I’ve had one graduation, the holidays, getting the kid ready for a move and a new job, and getting ready for another Cleese trip, not to mention my 103-year old Aunt Betty passing away unexpectedly.

But this would have been Graham Chapman’s 76 birthday, and that’s always worth a thought. Graham was an active member of Python for 20 years, and a considerably less active Python for 28 years now. It took nothing less than death to slow him down, and even then, he’s still been popping up in places like the O2 show, and making an ash of himself in various reunions. In fact, one thing that Graham never was, was inactive, and I’m glad that trend continues.

I’ll start posting more regularly as I travel with Mr. C this month. If you’re in the Northeast or parts of the Midwestern US, keep watching–John Cleese is coming your way. And in keeping with our theme, he’ll doubtless have lots to say about Graham.

 

Looking at the Bright Side…

TJ

Sunday night saw Terry Jones honored by BAFTA for Lifetime Achievement, which you can read about here.  If you viewed it while it was live streamed or simply saw clips of it since then, I think you’ll agree it was a touching night, made more so by Terry’s announcement of his dementia diagnosis. Michael Palin gave a great speech, as did Terry’s son Bill. Even John Cleese was touched–and John isn’t a man consumed by sentiment!  While Terry may begin to fade from the public spotlight, his contributions will only become more obvious as time goes on. But as I’m sure he’d want me to remind you–he’s not dead yet!

 

Terry’s Day

I should probably point out that Terry Jones is getting a Lifetime Achievement Award this Sunday from BAFTA Wales.
As regular readers of this column know, Terry has recently gone public with his diagnosis of dementia, and although Terry won’t be speaking, his son Bill and Michael Palin will be presenting it. The ceremony will be streamed live, so anyone with internet access should be able to log on and watch. If you want to see it live, tune in to http://www.bafta.org/wales.
There’s a nice tribute page up for Terry on that site (I helped them organize some of the photos), and it should all be an emotional but celebratory time. It’s so nice to see an amazing talent and a wonderful man like Terry get the recognition he has earned, and I couldn’t be happier for him and his family. If you’re a fan of his, you won’t want to miss it.Willy_150908_9767

Terry and Terry

I know Terry Jones will be very excited and happy to see all of the well-wishes from his fans from around the world, and I’ll make sure his family is aware of them. Even though they are dealing with a lot nowadays, the outpouring of love, affection, and support is pretty incredible.

tj-hj-selfie

In the midst of the announcement of Terry’s dementia, however, another bit of sad news for Python fans may be overlooked. Terence Baylor, one of the rep company for Life of Brian, passed away this week.

I got to spend many jolly hours with Terry B on the set of Brian in Tunisia, and he couldn’t have been nicer—I’m glad I was able to interview him for my Monty Python’s Tunisian Holiday book. He appeared in numerous roles throughout the film, from Carol Cleveland’s husband in the Sermon on the Mount scene, to the crucifee who said “I’m Brian and so’s my wife.”

tb

One indication of how much the Pythons valued him was evident when keeping in mind how little the Pythons improvised on any of their projects. When we were filming the crowd scene outside Brian’s window, the crowd responds to Brian’s “You’re all different” with “Yes, we are all different.” Terry B, who was standing near John, suggested something to him, and there was a brief discussion. The next thing I knew, when the hundreds of people shouted “Yes, we are all different,” Terry raised his hand and said “I’m not.” It worked, and it stayed in the final edit. Terence Baylor had just improvised in a Python film!

The last time I saw him was at a Python anniversary party in London in 1989, where he and some of the other rep company members were commenting (and rightly so) on how good Carol Cleveland still looked. I didn’t see much of him afterward, as he was a busy working stage, film, and TV actor, as evidenced by his appearance in the first Harry Potter film. But even Harry Potter didn’t let him improvise!