John Cleese on Spud, comedy and SA wine

2013-06-13 10:13
John Cleese Spud 2
John spoke to Channel24 about his love of South African food and wine, the Spud movies he filmed in South Africa, his upcoming autobiography and a good night's rest in an interview that made it very clear that this 73-year-old has no plans to retire.

The Monty Python writer and actor will be touring South Africa in a two-part stage show accompanied by 567 CapeTalk radio presenter John Maythem, whom Cleese refers to as a "splendid radio host".

John says the show will be split into two-parts: The first half is largely autobiographical as well as personal but insists he is "trying to make the audience laugh!" The second half will be John talking about his most iconic roles in Fawlty Towers, A Fish Called Wanda among other things, followed by a Q&A session with the audience.

John Cleese's career has spanned more than 50 years, from writing for BBC Radio's Dick Emery show to the infamous Monty Python comedy series, and of course, who could forget the hilarious Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers? The show Cleese co-wrote with American comedian and ex-wife Connie Booth.

The Guv

His latest film role is for the South African Spud movie series, in which Cleese plays "The Guv", an eccentric English teacher in a South African boarding school in the early 90s.
The second film was shot in Cape Town and is "funnier than the first", according to John, who returned to SA this week for the movie's Johannesburg premiere ahead of its 21 June release in local cinemas.

"I am told by people who’ve seen it that it's funnier than the first spud. There's more laughter in it."

"I loved the first Spud because I thought it was a good combination of funny things and also some very touching things, I think I had tears in my eyes three times. But I think this (Spud 2) is a little more bouncy, a little more fun."

The movies are based on a series of books by author John van de Ruit and John spoke to me about returning to shoot the third film after the completion of his tour.

On living in Cape Town during the filming of Spud, Cleese told me he loves wines and thinks we produce "some absolutely great ones". He also spoke of his love for our local cuisine and said he was looking forward to that most on his return.

The actor then took me through his routine before the show, emphasizing that a stage show is a "fairly disciplined routine".

Feeding the beast

"I arrive at the theatre probably about an hour and a half before the performance so I can check everything out technically and I rehearse a little bit with John Maythem and we discuss what happened the previous night and if there’s anything we want to change, and then we rest and do the show.

"We come off some time after 10, and of course you can't get straight to sleep but I like to get a good night's rest at 73 because two hours on stage takes quite a lot of energy!"

Although John won't be partying the night away on tour, he definitely isn't running out of steam and was excited to talk to me about his much-anticipated autobiography that he says we can look forward to reading in about 12 months.

"I've written about 35 000 words by now and it'll probably be about 100 000 words. I am very pleased, I think I've hit my stride because I've always been quite good at writing dialogue but I've very seldom written for the printed page.

"I am so very happy with what I've written think. I need another 12 months to do the rest of it because I don't want to rush it, I want to make it as good as I can."

After South Africa, John has plans to tour Canada and Dubai, and eventually would like to see the musical version of A Fish Called Wanda appear on stage.

But for now, John is focusing on the dreaded alimony that he still owes his third ex-wife, Alyce Faye Eichelberger.

Until he has finished "feeding the beast" as he calls it, retiring isn't on the cards for the veteran actor.

John Cleese Live will be on 15 and 16 of June at Feather Market in Port Elizabeth, the 18 and 19 June at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, 21, 22 and 23 June at the Teatro at Montecasino Johannesburg and 25 and 26 June at the ICC Hall 1AB Durban.

Spud 2: The Madness Continues opens in SA cinemas on 21 June.

At 73, John Cleese shows no signs of slowing down! Not only is Spud 2: The Madness Continues, about to hit our screens, but the British icon is returning to our shores for his second comedy show after his incredibly successful Alimony Tour in 2011. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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