When EDGAR met comedic legend John Cleese

The star of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers, one of the world’s funniest men gives us some life advice.

March 31, 2015

Life lesson
One of the things I have found as I’ve gotten older is that material objects matter a lot less to me. There is an enormous relief in simplifying your life, and my mistake was living such a luxurious lifestyle, that I spent my entire life earning to try and finance that lifestyle. The trouble is, the things that you have to do to earn lots of money are normally a lot less interesting than the things that you want to do.

Downsizing
The worst mistake I ever made was getting married for the third time. The trouble was during that time we bought five houses, but now all I have is a small flat just off of Sloane Square in London. I used to have a very good collection of English paintings from 1880 to 1920 but I had to sell most of them simply because I didn’t have enough wall space to hang them on. Turns out, I didn’t really mind selling them at all.

Stay classic
In the entertainment industry you have to give the people what they want. I once went to see Johnny Cash play, and in the second half of the gig he started to play some new music and people started booing! They wanted to hear the classics. That was also the case when we did the Monty Python stage show, people wanted to see the old sketches and I didn’t understand why they wanted to see things they had already seen, rather than some new material. 

Old fashioned values
My wife gave me a beautiful IWC watch. I love it but it astonishes me what people will pay for watches these days, but then again, I’m rather old fashioned like that. For 15 years I wore a Kermit the Frog watch that The Jim Henson Company gave me for doing the Muppets movie.

Acting is boring
Most acting is not that interesting. If I was cast to be in a stage play, they would expect for me to sign up for three months. Now I have an actor’s skill, but I don’t have an actor’s temperament. I don’t want to get up on stage and say the same lines over and over for three months. It is more fun when it is interactive and I am fielding questions from an audience, that way we can change things and move things about. You never know what will happen on those evenings.

Boredom helps
Getting bored can be a very good thing for you creatively, as it means that you are losing interested with what you are doing and are looking for something different – which is a very creative influence. John Cleese interview. Dark comedy
I like the murky side of comedy that people shy away from. So much of comedy is looking at the pleasant side of life, but I prefer darker comedy because you are making jokes that reflect real life and are close to the bone. In my stage show, I actually talk about why I like dark comedy at great length. It’s all to do with the anxiety.

On the Pythons
We all still get along very well. Eric Idle always used to say we were like brothers – we’d squabble the whole time but there was always this deep underlying affection. We still make each other laugh. Terry Gilliam, if anything, has become even funnier – it’s probably because he’s been living in England all these years.