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On Late Night With Seth Meyers to talk Python, John Cleese is grumpily delightful, delightfully grumpy

John Cleese, Seth Meyers
Screenshot: Late Night With Seth Meyers

At the end of their interview on Thursday’s Late Night, legendary comedian, actor, writer, and all-around funny person John Cleese asked host Seth Meyers, “Where are we going to dinner?” Meyers informed his guest that everything was all set, a public airing of private dinner plans that, considering the now 78-year-old Cleese’s customarily hilarious appearance on the show, no doubt sent pangs of envy through Monty Python fans everywhere. Cleese, there to plug his one-man show, Monty Python And The Holy Grail With John Cleese, has only become a more lovably crotchety storyteller as he’s grown older, and his mutually affectionate chat with Meyers fairly glowed with a twinkly, mischievous warmth.

Cleese complained about the hotel life as he takes his Python-plundering theatrical evening on the road, and shared tales of the unpredictable adventure of a nightly Q&A with American audiences. For Cleese aficionados, his anecdote about answering one Floridian’s very serious question, “Did the queen kill Diana?” is the sort of impeccably Cleese-ian interaction that justifies the ticket price alone. (As he’s aged, he’s also cemented his place as one of the all-time great belly-laughers.)

Of course, Cleese was there to talk about his show, where he tells—not for the first time—stories about the making of Holy Grail, Life Of Brian, The Meaning Of Life, and all things Python. Fans probably already know the story about George Harrison putting up the $2 million budget for Brian because, as Cleese impersonated the former Beatle explaining his decision, “I want to see the movie.” But it’s John Cleese, so the well-known anecdote was greeted with the delighted applause of Meyers’ appreciative audience. Same goes for his stories of the reason why King Arthur and his Grail-seekers clop coconuts together instead of riding horses. (A Michael Palin inspiration, born of budgetary necessity.) They might be old stories, oft told, but it’s John Cleese, and an interview—or, better yet a dinner—hearing him talk Python is always an occasion not to be missed.


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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.