John Cleese On How They Sold Monty Python To The BBC


MY NEXT GUEST IS A COMEDY
LEGEND. PLEASE WELCOME THE MYTHICAL
JOHN CLEESE. NOW, A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE
BUILDING PRETTY EXCITED YOU’RE HERE. OBVIOUSLY A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE
AUDIENCE EXCITED YOU’RE HERE. YOU WERE ONE OF THE COFOUNDERS
OF THE GREAT MONTY PYTHON. OBVIOUSLY, YOU CREATED ONE OF
THE GREATEST SITCOMS OF ALL TIME “FAULTY TOWERS.” ONE OF THE FUNNIEST MOVIES OF
ALL TIME, “A FISH CALLED WANDA” AND YOUR BOOK, “SO, ANYWAY” IS
NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK. ARE YOU A HEREEE TO SO MANY
PEOPLE, SO MANY COMEDIANS.>>I’M JUST GOING TO SAY, BUT I
HAVEN’T HAD SO MUCH FUN FOR A LONG TIME AS I HAD DOING THE
HAT.>>Stephen: REALLY?>>IT WAS WONDERFUL.>>Stephen: OH, MY GOD. THAT’S A THRILL. THAT’S A THRILL. I WANT TO SAY– I WANT TO SAY
THEY MEAN THIS AS THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT– YOU LOOKED LIKE AN
IDIOT UP THERE. DO YOU ENJOY– BECAUSE YOU’RE A
SMART GUY. DO YOU ENJOY BEING STUPID?>>I LOVE BEING STUPID. WHEN WE WERE WRITING PYTHON,
THAT WAS THE WORD WE ALWAYS USED “SILLY.” WE LOVED IT WHEN WAS SILLY. SOMETIMES WHEN IT WAS NAUGHTY,
BUT ALWAYS SILLY. IT WAS ALMOST BEST WHEN IT MEANT
NOTHING. YOU KNOW THE FISH SLAPPING
DANCE.>>Stephen: THE FISH SLAPPING
DANCE WAS ONE OF MY FAVORITES.>>I HEARD, I HEARD, THEY TOLD
ME. IT’S HILARIOUS.>>Stephen: YOU AND MICHAEL
PALIN, RIGHT?>>OH, WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL. ( LAUGHTER )
( LAUGHTER ) ( APPLAUSE )
>>Stephen: MEANINGLESS.>>MEANINGLESS.>>Stephen: COMPLETELY
MEANINGLESS.>>ABSOLUTELY MEANINGLESS, AND
IT’S HILARIOUS. WE WERE ASKED TO DO A
COMPILATION PROGRAM EACH. WE ALL CHOSE COMPLETELY
DIFFERENT STUFF, EXCEPT THE FISH SLAPPING. ALL FIVE OF US CHOSE THAT.>>Stephen: WAS THERE, LIKE
AIR, PYTHON FOR YOU, LIKE THE PERSON LIKE YOU MEMORIZED WHAT
THEY DID AND YOU WANTED TO BE THEM WHEN YOU GREW UP?>>UM, THERE WERE SEVERAL, BUT,
YOU SEE, I GREW UP IN AMERICAN COMEDY.>>Stephen: REALLY?>>REALLY. BBC USED TO SHOW GEORGE BURNS,
JACK BENNY, JOAN DAVIS, PHIL SILVERS.>>Stephen: NOBODY TALKS ABOUT
PHIL SILVERS ANYMORE. THE GREAT PHIL SILVERS.>>AMOS AND ANDY WHICH WE DON’T
MENTION.>>Stephen: WE DON’T DO THAT
ANYMORE.>>AND LUCILLE BALL. I GREW UP ON THAT. IN THE LATE 80s– LATE 50s,
I’M SORRY. I’M OLD. IN THE LATE 50s, WE USED TO
STAY ABREAST OF THE MOST EXCITING COMEDY COMING OUT OF
AMERICA WITH MIKE NICHOLS, ELAINE MAY, MORT SAUL, SHELLY
BERMAN, BOB NEWHART.>>Stephen: BUT YOU NEVER DID
POLITICAL STUFF. YOU MADE FUN OF POLITICAL
FIGURES FOR HAVING A STICK UP THEIR BUTT BUT YOU NEVER DID
POLITICAL.>>IN 1982, WE WERE MAKING FUN
OF THE QUEEN, AND THE PRIME MINISTER AND PEOPLE LIKE– THIS
HAD NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE. IF YOU DID AN IMPERSONATION OF
THE PRIME MINISTER IN 1955, THEY WOULD HAVE SAID IT WAS
DISRESPECTFUL. AND SUDDENLY, IN ’62, PETER
COOK, DUDLEY MOORE, JONATHAN MILLER AND ALAN BENNETT DID THIS
STAGE SHOW CALLED “BEYOND THE FRINGE.”>>Stephen: INCREDIBLE.>>AND I NEVER HEARD– I NEVER
HEARD LAUGHTER LIKE THAT, STEPHEN. ALAN BENNETT DID A PARODY OF A
CHURCH OF ENGLAND SERMON, AND PEOPLE WEREN’T LAUGHING. THEY WERE SCREAMING, AND THEY
WERE SCREAMS OF LIBERATION BECAUSE WE HEARD THAT CLOTHIAN
CRAP EVERY SUNDAY OF OUR LIVES. AND SUDDENLY, SOMEBODY WAS
MAKING FUN OF IT.>>Stephen: I THINK ONE OF THE
GREATEST LINES IN ANY MONTY PYTHON THING OF ALL TIME IS
MICHAEL PALIN WHEN HE SAYS, “OH, LORD, ROUSSEAU VERY BIG.”>>THAT WAS BASED ON THE KIND OF
STUFF THAT WE WERE GIVEN –>>WHAT ABOUT THE BBC THINK THEY
WERE GETTING WHEN THEY GOT YOU GUYS.>>THEY HAD NO IDEA PUP WON’T
BELIEVE THIS. I’LL TELL YOU AN EXTRAORDINARY
STORY. IT’S NOT THAT FUNNY BUT IT’S
ABSOLUTELY TRUE. I WAS WRITING WITH PETER
SELLERS. EVERY THURSDAY WE USED TO WATCH
THIS KIDS’ PROGRAM, USED TO COME ON AT 5:00. IT WAS THE FUNNIEST THING ON
ENGLISH TELEVISION, PALIN, JONES, IDOL, AND TERRY GILLAN.>>Stephen: REALLY FOR
CHILDREN? A CHILDREN’S SHOW?>>IT WAS A CHILDREN’S SHOW,
5:00. AND WE RANG THEM UP ONE DAY
BECAUSE WE KNEW WE HAD WORKED TOGETHER BEFORE AND WE SAID WHY
DON’T WE DO A SHOW TOGETHER? AND THEY SAID WHY NOT. AND WE WEE GOT SOMEONE TO FIX UP
A MEETING WITH THE TOP GUY AT B.B.C. TELEVISION, THE GREAT GOD
OF TELEVISION COMEDY DEY. WE MET HIM, MICHAEL MILLS, AND
SHOOK HIS HAND AND SAID WE GATHER YOU GUYS WOULD LIKE TO DO
A SERIES. AND WE SAID WE’D LOVE TO. AND HE SAID WHAT DO YOU PROPOSE
DOING? AND BEING PYTHON WE HADN’T
DISCUSSED IT. SERIOUSLY. WE SAID WE WANT TO DO HUMOROUS
( CLEARS THROAT ) MATERIAL WITH JOKES AND– OF A
COMEDIC NATURE. AND HE SAID, YOU’RE GOING TO
HAVE GUEST STARS? WE SAID ARE WE? ARE WE GOING. WHAT ABOUT MUSIC? WE MIGHT. ARE YOU GOING TO USE FILM? AND I THOUGHT THIS IS
PROFESSIONAL SUICIDE. AND I —
>>YOU HAD NO FAITH IN YOUR OWN PITCH?>>NO, BUT IT WASN’T A PITCH. IT WAS A NON-PITCH. IT WAS AN UN-PITCH. IT WAS AN EX-PITCH. BUT MICHAEL LOOKED AT US,
SHRUGGED AND SAID GO AWAY AND MAKE 13 EPISODES. ( LAUGHTER )
>>Stephen: THAT’S WHEN THE BBC HAD SOME CASH TO BURN. ( LAUGHTER ).>>YES, BUT THEY ALSO TRUSTED
THEIR GUT IN THE OLD DAYS. UN WHAT I MEAN, STEPHEN? HE HAD NO IDEA WHAT WE WERE
GOING TO DO. WE HAD NO IDEA WHAT WE WERE
GOING TO DO.>>Stephen: YOU WERE SIX FEET
TALL WHEN YOU WERE 12, SOMETHING LIKE THAT.>>THAT’S RIGHT, YEAH.>>Stephen: DID BEING A CIRCUS
FREAK HELP? DID THAT HELP AS A PERFORMER? BEING A COMEDIAN OR ANYTHING?>>I THINK I WAS A VERY AWKWARD
KID. MY PARENTS HAD MOVED 13 OR 14
TIMES IN MY FIRST 13 OR 14 YEARS. SO I HADN’T HAD A CHANCE TO MAKE
REAL FRIENDS WITH ANYONE BECAUSE THEN WE WERE OFF AGAIN, YOU
KNOW. SO WHEN I WENT TO SCHOOL, I
WAS– I WAS NOT– I DIDN’T MIX IN VERY WELL. I DIDN’T REALLY KNOW HOW TO BE A
SCHOOLBOY. AND I GOT TEASED A LOT. AND THE EMBARRASSING THING ABOUT
BEING TEASED AND BULLIED IS THAT IF IT’S DONE BY PEOPLE HALF YOUR
SIZE, IT’S REALLY– ( LAUGHTER )
IT’S REALLY HUMILIATING. ( LAUGHTER )
BUT AT THAT TIME, I BEGAN TO GET THEM TO LAUGH, AND WHEN THEY
LAUGHED– WELL, YOU KNOW THIS– THE PEOPLE HAVE AFFECTION FOR
YOU. AND IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW
HORRIBLE YOU ARE. BASIL FORTY IS A TRULY GHASTLY
HUMAN BEING, BUT HE MAKES PEOPLE LAUGH SO THEY FEEL AFFECTION.>>Stephen: HE’S SAD. HE’S A VERY SAD CHARACTER.>>YES, THAT’S RIGHT. HE CAN’T DEAL WITH DEPRESSION AT
ALL. REMEMBER WHEN MANUEL WAS SAD
ONCE. HE SAID, “WE DIDN’T WIN THE WAR
BY GETTING DEPRESSED, YOU KNOW.”>>Stephen: ARE YOU WRITING
ANYTHING RIGHT NOW? ARE YOU DOING ANYTHING?>>I’M GOING TO GO DOWN TO THE
WEST INDIES THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW.>>Stephen: THAT’S NICE.>>I HAVE EIGHT EXERCISE BOOKS
AND 100 PENCILS AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M GOING TO WRITE.>>Stephen: WOW.>>BUT I’M THINKING OF WRITING A
SHOW CALLED, “WHY THERE IS NO HOPE.” ( LAUGHTER )
( APPLAUSE )>>Stephen: I LIKE IT.>>YEAH.>>Stephen: I LIKE IT.>>BECAUSE THERE IS. YOU SEE PEOPLE HAVE NOT GRASPED
THIS YET. THERE IS NO HOPE. ( LAUGHTER )
>>Stephen: I DISAGREE.>>DO YOU?>>Stephen: YES, BECAUSE YOU
HAVE JUST GIVEN ME HOPE THAT THERE WILL BE ANOTHER JOHN
CLEESE BOOK. AND PLEASE COME BACK WHEN YOU’VE
WRITTEN IT.>>I’D LOVE TO.>>Stephen: JOHN, THANK YOU SO
MUCH. IT WAS SUCH AN HONOR TO HAVE
YOU. “SO, ANYWAY” IS AVAILABLE IN
PAPERBACK NOW. WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK.

100 thoughts on “John Cleese On How They Sold Monty Python To The BBC

  1. I love how Cleese is so particular to remember the names of the people involved in the comedy programs he grew up on. Even in his senile, decayed, and utterly decrepit state, it’s evident how important those are to him.

  2. I had to stop watching Late show right when Colbert took over, having been a fan of his for over a decade. He spent so long playing the Republican-foil Colbert that talks over his guests, he adapted the same mannerisms in his interview style. He will not let a guest speak for more than 30 seconds without interrupting or trying to finish their thought. Just shut up and let Cleese speak.

  3. To say Python is non political takes a pretty lazy watch. Most sketches are lampooning the class system, religion, secularism etc etc

  4. Odd watching him after seeing his name on the epstein list… I just can’t see him doing anything truly immoral.

  5. John Cleese has come out and said something that a lot of English people are thinking these days. London and other places in England is no longer looking like England and If most of the places you go to no longer have white English people its not right. A lot think something has gone wrong. Thats why Brexit and a strong border needs to be in place. Diversity is something they are saying now to make us think its a good thing that its ok to be one white in a bus full with blacks and immigrants. This is not right and we don`t want diversity. Only blacks and companies who want to play low wages want diversity.

  6. I saw John with Eric Idle and then saw Holy Grail then he and his daughter came out after the movie and talked! great fun

  7. As coincidence would have it, the fish slapping dance is vaguely reminiscent of a real, traditional dance in Sweden. Not the fish bit, but the slapping and the gradual escalation.

  8. Cleese actually has nothing but well concealed contempt for IDIOTS like Colbert….justifiably.
    Colbert is an interesting case…he purports to be a Catholic but in actual fact is a jew.Jews who masquerade as Catholics were known as Marranos,Converso's or New Christian's in Spain.Madeline Albright and John Kerry are two further high profile crypto Jews.
    Another interesting fact is the actress who starred in Cleeses A Fish Called Wanda (Jamie Curtis) is Jewish of course but more interestingly,is actually an hermaphrodite…….rather like the wife of the former King of Britain…the notorious Mrs Simpson….
    So coitus with Curtis would not produce any offspring..
    Her father Tony Coitus achieved fame in the movie Spartacus he played a minstrel in Koik Douglas's encampment. Two low life American Jews fresh out of an Eastern European ghetto playing Roman slaves on the run with grotesque American accents….one of the truly great moments in Hollywood.

  9. Fawlty Towers is truly my favorite comedy series of all time, and then Get Smart and then Dick Van Dyke.

    I love John Cleese.

  10. He did very good humor in a time that fun was really fun, not this trash people do today. Today if you tell a joke many persons see you like a maniac, NO! I'm just telling a joke!

  11. Cool, he talked about starting to write a book "There is no hope" and a few months ago I bought tickets to see that show for next month.

  12. Its like that here in the UK; A small group of people have all the contacts, unless you're born into it, forget having a career.

  13. Hahaha, the whooping wild American audience switches into polite ripple of applause mode after being admonished (00.35)

  14. There needs to be some cross-referencing here in YouTube, so we can instantly access the various video/TV-movie moments that Cleese is alluding to. Something more "curated" , perhaps?

  15. Years ago when viewing "Life of Brian" I couldn't believe what I was seeing. So irreverent, creative, thought-provoking and above all else, funny as hell.

  16. Basil Fawlty was apparently based on a real hotel owner Cleese met while staying at his hotel, Cleese described him as 'the most delightfully rudist man I've ever encountered.'

  17. John Cleese and Larry David are the greatest comedy writers in the past 50 years. It is sad to see the former going to this despicable show and getting drawn into the host's politics.

  18. That book title reminded me of Dylan’s 5-page poem about there being no hope.
    An excerpt:
    “You need something special to give you hope
    But hope's just a word
    That maybe you said or maybe you heard
    On some windy corner 'round a wide-angled curve

    But that's what you need man, and you need it bad
    And yer trouble is you know it too good
    "Cause you look an' you start getting the chills

    "Cause you can't find it on a dollar bill
    And it ain't on Macy's window sill
    And it ain't on no rich kid's road map
    And it ain't in no fat kid's fraternity house
    And it ain't made in no Hollywood wheat germ
    And it ain't on that dimlit stage
    With that half-wit comedian on it
    Ranting and raving and taking yer money
    And you thinks it's funny
    No you can't find it in no night club or no yacht club
    And it ain't in the seats of a supper club
    And sure as hell you're bound to tell
    That no matter how hard you rub
    You just ain't a-gonna find it on yer ticket stub
    No, and it ain't in the rumors people're tellin' you
    And it ain't in the pimple-lotion people are sellin' you
    And it ain't in no cardboard-box house
    Or down any movie star's blouse
    And you can't find it on the golf course
    And Uncle Remus can't tell you and neither can Santa Claus
    And it ain't in the cream puff hair-do or cotton candy clothes
    And it ain't in the dime store dummies or bubblegum goons
    And it ain't in the marshmallow noises of the chocolate cake voices
    That come knockin' and tappin' in Christmas wrappin'
    Sayin' ain't I pretty and ain't I cute and look at my skin
    Look at my skin shine, look at my skin glow
    Look at my skin laugh, look at my skin cry
    When you can't even sense if they got any insides
    These people so pretty in their ribbons and bows
    No you'll not now or no other day
    Find it on the doorsteps made out-a paper mache¥
    And inside it the people made of molasses
    That every other day buy a new pair of sunglasses
    And it ain't in the fifty-star generals and flipped-out phonies
    Who'd turn yuh in for a tenth of a penny
    Who breathe and burp and bend and crack
    And before you can count from one to ten
    Do it all over again but this time behind yer back
    My friend
    The ones that wheel and deal and whirl and twirl
    And play games with each other in their sand-box world
    And you can't find it either in the no-talent fools
    That run around gallant
    And make all rules for the ones that got talent
    And it ain't in the ones that ain't got any talent but think they do
    And think they're foolin' you
    The ones who jump on the wagon
    Just for a while 'cause they know it's in style
    To get their kicks, get out of it quick
    And make all kinds of money and chicks
    And you yell to yourself and you throw down yer hat
    Sayin', "Christ do I gotta be like that
    Ain't there no one here that knows where I'm at
    Ain't there no one here that knows how I feel
    Good God Almighty
    THAT STUFF AIN'T REAL" – Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan 1963

  19. 2:48 You can tell some young producer was in his ear saying "your audience doesn't know who any of the people are. Ask him about politics!"

  20. By His own admission "I'm stupid" and he gives a "face to face" OR "Asshole to asshole" Cleese to Colbert. I hope you take this in the spirit it's given. If you can take the piss out of God and the Queen, Surely I can have a slight tilt at you; pompous opinionated arse.

  21. Colbert has become a steaming, rotting worthless establishment turd. "Oh we don't do that anymore". He has the humor of a dead cat under your house.

  22. Just saw Mr. Cleese on stage in Austin, TX last night. Great show with memories of Python. I recommend trying to catch him on his tour.

  23. My mom
    >you are my only hope
    Me an Only child named hope
    *Eye rolls and walks out
    Mom yells after me
    LoVE YoOoooou

    Me I KNOW!

    My friends
    – silent laughter waiting for me outside

    ME shut Up
    They laugh out loud
    Me Glaring
    THEN SNORTING "NURF Hurder"

    Later got shortened to a "NARF" sound

    Apparently it's hard to say nerf-herder when getting kicked in the tea bag

  24. I'm still waiting on that book. Especially these days, really need to understand more as to why Hope took the A train and left the f&^%ing station :/

  25. Bet you he never gets asked back on after his London comments. We'll see how fair late night is, oh yes we already know.

  26. "Let us praise God. Oh Lord, oooh you are so big. So absolutely huge. Gosh, we’re all really impressed down here I can tell you. Forgive us, O Lord, for this dreadful toadying and barefaced flattery. But you are so strong and, well, just so super. Fantastic. Amen."

    -Michael Palin as the chaplain in The Meaning of Life

  27. You can tell this is before Donald Trump because Stephen looks so young here. Donald Trump has aged us all.

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