Cleese on ageing and divorce

Cleese on ageing and divorce

Most comedians would be happy if they created one worldwide cult smash, a show that is never off the air and attracts a fanatical following who can repeat chunks of dialogue.

John Cleese belongs to that tiny club of performers who has had a hand in more than one of these much-loved international classics.

Monty Python nerds - everyone knows at least one - quote Cleese's parts in the comedy troupe's surreal BBC sketch show, Monty Python's Flying Circus, broadcast from 1969 to 1974.

There is the Cheese Shop sketch ("I delight in all manifestations of the Terpsichorean muse") or his lines in The Dead Parrot sketch ("Piiii-ning for the fjords?").

Cleese then went on to help create the show that members of the British Film Institute in a poll in 2000 voted the best British television series of all time - the sitcom Fawlty Towers (1975, returning in 1979), which he co-wrote with then-wife Connie Booth and also starred in as the short-fused hotelier Basil Fawlty.

He also created memorable parts in movies, with other members of the Python troupe (Monty Python And The Holy Grail, 1975; Life Of Brian, 1979) and without, in comedies such as A Fish Called Wanda (1988), the Shrek animated franchise, and appearances in the Harry Potter (as Nearly Headless Nick) and James Bond films (as Q).

The 74-year-old will be in Singapore to perform An Evening With John Cleese, a stand-up show on May 4 and 5 at the University Cultural Centre, National University of Singapore.

It will be his first time performing in South-east Asia, but he is no stranger to Singapore. In the 1970s, the Monty Python and Fawlty Towers shows created a demand for him in Australia.

"I used to come to Singapore a lot in the 1970s because in those days, I used to take the Concorde from London. I used to stop somewhere in the Middle East, then come to Singapore. I would usually have a couple of days in Singapore before I went on to Sydney. Then the Australian economy went under in the early 1980s and the offers to make commercials dried up," he tells Life! on the telephone from Sydney.

"There is no pattern to it," he says, when asked what he likes to do when he breaks his journey here "because there is no pattern to my life. Nothing is routine".

"The last time I was there, I suspect I was there for something like four days. It was so hugely different from when I was coming over in the 1970s and 1980s that I thought I should take a look around," he says, in a stream uninterrupted by the usual ums and ahs that afflict normal persons.

His verdict? "What I saw, last time I was there for four days, I was struck by how pretty most of it was," he says.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.
Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.