Hopelessly Hilarious


I am sure I do not need to explain who John Cleese is and why it was so important that I saw his show when I found out that he was coming to the National Arts Centre.  As a fan of Monty Python‘s Flying Circus, I could not resist the chance to see this comedic legend live on stage.  And although there were some very funny moments, the tone of the evening was completely unexpected.

The first portion of Cleese’s show was less of a stand-up routine and more of a lecture.  As we heard about Cleese’s past experience as a teacher, the lecture style made sense.  Many audience goers had also seen documentaries narrated and/or hosted by Cleese (I have personally watched a very interesting documentary in which he educated viewers about the human face), so the style of presentation for the evening was not out of the ordinary.  This was merely a live documentary in which we were treated to Cleese’s views of the world.  It was appropriately titled “Why There is no Hope”, and although Cleese insisted that he meant this seriously and not comically, there were some very hilarious topics that came up.  We received insight into Cleese’s views on his life, his career, mental health, politics, and all sorts of other contemporary issues (including some very colourful thoughts on President Trump).

I’d have to say that the only points I really disagreed with were his views on millennials.  Being a millennial myself, I am aware that I am biased in this matter, however his definition of this generation was not quite right.  The age group and stereotypical qualities he described seemed to be more appropriately suited to Gen Z, and at times it seemed as if he was confusing and combining the two generations.  Nevertheless, his opinions on other topics were much more substantiated, and I was impressed that he had clearly done a lot of research on some of these topics.

The second portion of the show was a bit more like a convention Q and A panel as Cleese sat down with a local radio host to answer some pre-prepared questions as well as questions from the audience.  Many of these questions revolved around his outstanding work with Monty Python, as well as his work on Fawlty Towers and A Fish Called Wanda.  This section was much more candid, but Cleese still returned to some of the points he had brought up in his lecture.  As this portion was unscripted, this Q and A session also provided more opportunities for comedic moments.

All in all, it was a fun and educational evening.  I am so pleased that I got the chance to see one of my comedy idols up on stage and I am grateful that I got to cross this off my bucket list.  After hearing about Cleese’s thoughts on the world and his collaborations with psychiatrist Robin Skynner, I am interested in hunting down some of his books on mental health.  And given that Cleese hinted at possible collaborations with Netflix in the future, I hope we get to see even more documentaries narrated by him.


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