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John Cleese

  • Overture Hall 201 State Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

One of comedy's absurd elder statesmen shares his gloomy vision. Info/tix

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What more is there to say about John Cleese? Across four decades in comedy, he has worked on or been involved with at least four cornerstones of 20th-century comedy, each one innovative in its way: Fawlty Towers, Monty Python's Flying Circus, A Fish Called Wanda, and Monty Python And The Holy Grail. Through those many years Cleese has cut his teeth using his tall, lanky frame and razor-sharp with to concoct a potent and evergreen blend of body humor, observational comedy, and wordplay.

But what we can expect up from the stand-up comedy of the 79-year-old legend in this day and age? For starters, the dry and imperious Cleese has aged a bit better than some of his contemporaries, in that he largely spares us unwanted and unneeded problematic takes on issues like trans rights, but his railing against "political correctness" and his pro-Brexit comments don't much help his reputation as an erudite elder statesman of the absurd. On the other hand, to his credit, Cleese also has had insights you wouldn't expect from a boorish old fellow, such as noticing that the term "snowflake" is way for "sociopaths...to discredit the notion of empathy."

This mixed tendency makes the notion of his current stand-up tour, the first in five years since his apparently-not-farewell tour, intriguing. He is currently touring a show titled "Why There Is No Hope," a lecture-meets-stand up comedy performance about why the world is dismal and its leaders more so. Though Cleese is still, at times, an apt critical thinker, there is something potentially disconcerting about a rich, wealthy white man talking down to everyone about why the world sucks. Also, does anyone really need more arguments as to why there is no hope in the first place? But still, if there are people who can distill old, depressing information into new and hilarious channels, Cleese is likely one of them. —Henry Solo