Watch the full interview between John Cleese and Emily Maitlis where the Monty Python star explains why newspapers have driven him to the Caribbean.
Talking with the Monty Python member about Peter Sellers, failure, and why he prefers disrespectful interviewers.
It was absurdist. It didn’t try to be intellectual, yet it at its core it still was. I always had an affinity for the silly, and the humor of The Goon Show was just that. It was also very subversive. Spike and [co-creator Harry Secombe] were in the armed forces during the Second World War, you see, and they had developed a rather disrespectful attitude towards authority and the officers, and that was always coming through in the show — just a disrespect for the pompous old-style English guys and the upper class. And that anti-authority really spoke to us [in Python]. People used to ask us to describe what sort of humor Monty Python was because they didn’t know how to categorize us. We’re just silly. Other people who come across us can give us labels if they want.
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone working in comedy that hasn’t creatively cribbed from Monty Python. The influential British comedy troupe’s trademark surrealism, self-referencing, and artistic anarchy has been coded into the DNA of many modern architects of America’s absurdist comedy Zeitgeist, from Doug Kenney to Amy Sedaris to the minds behind Mr. Show. [ . . . ]
Continue at THE VULTURE: Talking Peter Sellers and The Goon Show with John Cleese
British comedy legend visits the ‘Fan Theory’ podcast
Comedy legend John Cleese, a founding member of the iconic British comedy troupe Monty Python, is back on the road.
At the age of 77, the Academy Award nominee is crossing the country this fall, screening the stupendously silly 1975 cult classic film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and engaging in question-and-answer sessions following the movie.
“I was amazed how easy it was to sell tickets,” Cleese told the Asbury Park Press’ “Fan Theory” podcast, “because Americans like ‘Holy Grail’ best of all …
“And the nice thing is the questions afterwards. You see, when I’m doing my one-man show I say pretty much the same thing every night, but when I’m answering questions from the audience they can be completely different. I can do two shows and they’re completely different because it just depends on the direction the audience takes it. That makes it much more interesting for me.”
Listen to the Fan Theory Podcast: John Cleese of Monty Python talks ‘Holy Grail’ tour
When John Cleese looks back on his life in the first volume of his memoir, So, Anyway…, he doesn’t say that the happiest time in his life was starring in an immensely popular sit-com with his then-wife. It’s not working on Monty Python’s Flying Circus, or being in a Bond film, or performing comedy on the road in New Zealand or any of that. It was teaching for two years, before going to Cambridge. In a talk with fellow Python Eric Idle he explains that the reason for that is because “it was so wonderfully unstressful.” This would change rather quickly once Cleese went to university where he would become involved with Cambridge’s comedy revue group, where he would meet Graham Chapman. His final show with the group would then go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which would then lead to a run at the West End under the name Cambridge Circus, which would then lead to a radio show, then a TV show [ . . . ]