Friday, March 24, 2006

John Cleese or Billy Crystal



In February I saw Billy Crystal "700 Sundays" at the Wilshire in Los Angeles. Absolutely and amazing performer and what a production. His life story is incredible and everyone should see this show if they get a chance. Only problem was the venue as the acoustics were awful and many of his lines were missed.

Last night I saw the John Cleese Show "Seven Ways to Skin an Ocelot" (produced by his 22 year old daughter Camilla) at the Carpenter Center in Long Beach. He was on his "A" game. What a delight! Sitting back and taking in his life story with film clips from Monty Python, Fawlty Towers and more. He exited the show calling all of us Bastards and then for an encore he returned, sat on chair and took questions from the enthusiastic audience- nobody moved. It was engaging and really hilarious. Here is some information on John Cleese.

John Marwood Cleese was born Oct 27, 1939 in the "lost seaside resort" community of Weston-Super-Mare, England. John indicated there was no reason for anyone to visit this totally sleepy village. He said his real family name was Cheese but his father changed the "h" to an "l". Since his former wife called him Jack he would have been "Jack Cheese".

From 1953 to 1958 he attended Clifton College and then taught at his old prep school for two years while waiting to go to Cambridge’s Downing College. He began to study law and was invited to join Footlight in his first year. There he met his future writing partner Graham Chapman. He took a job at BBC radio, but then rejoined Cambridge Circus touring to New Zealand and to Broadway. On Broadway he had singing part was totally unable to sing so he just lip-synched and danced. While in New York he received a call from David Frost to work on the Frost Report.

Cleese decided to stay in the U.S. for a while and he appeared in a fumetti feature for "Help!" magazine, the assistant editor being Terry Gilliam. Unsuccessfully wrote for the "Newsweek" international politics section for a couple of months. After this, he joined "American Establishments Review" but soon returned to London.

Together with Graham Chapman (died on October 4, 1989 from pneumonia and throat cancer), Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin he wrote for "The Frost report".

Cleese married American actress Connie Booth in 1968. She is now a therapist and remains good friends with John.

Although he became restless after the second series of Monty Python's Flying Circus, he did not leave the group until after the third series.

In 1974 he wrote "Romance With a Double Bass", adapted from a Chekhov short story, together with Connie Booth. In December 1974 they shot the pilot for Fawlty Towers, the first series being done in August & September 1975. Even though Cleese and Booth where divorced in 1978, they created another series of six Fawlty Towers in the following year.

Cleese later married the American actress Barbara Trentham.

So check out Billy Crystal and John Cleese's one-man shows. You will be in for a real treat!

3 Comments:

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2:42 PM  
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3:23 PM  
Blogger vulpescu said...

Very interesting post. As a resident of Weston Super Mare I wonder just how often Mr Cleese visits our town - it is by no means a sleepy village, having a population of 70,000 plus. It is a very British characteristic I'm afraid to disguise snobbery with a little witty sarcasm. Another former resident of Weston is of course Lord Jeffrey Archer. Nuff said.

4:07 AM  

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