Chaos Attraction

An Evening With Cleeses

2018-03-28, 9:12 p.m.

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I went to go see John Cleese when he was in town (again) on 3/28. This time he is doing a tour in which you have to watch "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and then he does a Q&A. This seems a bit shortchange-y on seeing the Cleese to me, but (a) he's old and (b) clearly still on the "I gotta make money for my evil ex-wife" tour train, so I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. That said, it was on a Wednesday night starting at 8 p.m. and under the circumstances of "I gotta sit through a movie first," I kind of wish they'd moved up the starting time for those of us who still had to go to work the next day.

As for the movie, it's interesting how you remember some things clearly (brave Sir Robin ran away, he bravely, bravely ran way!) and how some I did not (the ending, the whole Sir Galahad thing, the whole Red Wedding thing). I probably last saw it in college or something, I guess.

The moderator for this was Cleese's daughter Camilla, who said that during the first leg of this tour they'd had "too deferential" moderators, so she was brought on. Presumably because she'd sass her dad, and yup, that happened. I attempted to take sketchy notes in the dark and this is what I could read later on:

John Cleese:
* Why isn't football called "handball?"
* Joke about Kellyanne Conway leads to: "How do you identify a witch?" That would be his most infamous ex wife.
* Camilla had brought her little dog on tour, and the dog would wander on and off the stage. Periodically Cleeese would get up and try to chase the dog a bit.
* The dog is an ambi-turner and can only turn in one direction.
* George Harrison donated money for Life of Brian
* When asked if they ad-libbed, he said they didn't know how and they never did it.
* He said they didn't know how to end the movie. Can't say I'm shocked at this.
* Cleese edited the end of the movie to have less crowd shots, basically. Camilla does not approve of this and walked off while this was shown.
* When asked about Trump, Cleese would imitate him and cackle and go on about how he never read a book.
* He is working on some show about how there is no hope.
* There is a "Cleese's woolly lemur" that is "catastrophically dim" in Madagascar. (More about lemurs.)
* He told us about the time Graham Chapman went to Oxford for some fancy debate, dressed as a carrot. He stood there for 12 minutes silent and was "really thrilled that he'd ruined the debate."
* He refused a knighthood because he wasn't going to London in winter.
* "The older you get the less you give a fuck." True dat.
* After Cleese went on about his nose hairs for way too long, Camilla said "Next question," which was...when he lost his virginity. She was all, I can't believe I'm asking this to get off this topic. Answer: age 24 in a New Zealand hotel.
* Cleese has 4 Maine coons. Buying kitty food from Harrods is $20/can, which Camilla said was more than her per diem.
* Cleese talked about the time he unknowingly ate poodle in Hong Kong and said "dogs taste much better." Camilla grabbed her dog and walked off during this. He said he felt bad when he saw a poodle on the street the next day and said, "I had to have therapy."
* When the World Wildlife Federation asked him for a recipe, he suggested poached giant panda in snow leopard sauce. "I didn't hear from them again for 10 years."
* At some point he auctioned off his towels.
* Someone asked about his favorite practical jokes, which didn't register with him at first and then he got it. "Oh, JAPES." So he said that Michael Palin would change lines on him during stage shows such as during "Dead Parrot Live." Cleese would yell out "what's the right line?" and 500 would shout it out. What is the point of this, Cleese said, so he later had the audience do his lines.
To get Palin back, he called him while Palin was in HElsinki claimed to be someone wanting an interview RIGHT NOW in the lobby for Norwegian TV. The interview was a tribute to Cleese and they wanted to speak to "one of his assistants." Also at one point he got Palin's key wrongly at a hotel, so he hid in the room and Palin never noticed. "And now I realize the joke's on me.... I just stood up and said I had to go now."
* He said his mom was so depressed all the time he offered to have her killed periodically. He also offered to have her stuffed. She loved that. He claims he won't miss her. I guess he still doesn't!

The show ended with Graham's ashes.


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