Monty Python Co-founder John Cleese to Perform in Israel

Cleese, considered one of the most influential comedians in the world, will bring his 'Last Time to See Me Before I Die' to Tel Aviv's Charles Bronfman Auditorium in September

Aya Chajut
Aya Chajut
File Photo: British actor John Cleese performs during an afternoon dress rehearsal, Norway, October 2, 2009.
File Photo: British actor John Cleese performs during an afternoon dress rehearsal, Norway, October 2, 2009.Credit: AFP
Aya Chajut
Aya Chajut

British comedian John Cleese, creator of the series “Fawlty Towers” and one of the founders of the legendary “Monty Python” group, will arrive in Israel with his standup show “Last Time to See Me Before I Die” for one performance, which will take place on September 1 at the Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv. Ticket prices will range from 199 to 439 shekels ($54 to $120), depending on the seats.

Cleese, 79, one of the most influential comedians in the world, is largely responsible for the popularity of the nonsense genre on television, first performed his present one-man show in 2013, and has appeared with it internationally since.

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Cleese began his career in entertainment in the 1960s, when he presented radio programs, participated in films such as “The Magic Christian” starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr, and was one of the writers for the British satirical program “The Frost Report” with Graham Chapman. With Chapman, whom he knew from his student days in the University of Cambridge law school, Cleese founded “Monty Python” along with Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle.

An excerpt from Cleese's "Last Time to See Me Before I Die" show

The group, whose skits and films are considered by many to be some of the most important milestones in modern comedy, began its television career in 1969, on “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” Cleese took part only in the first three seasons, but returned to participate in the group’s films.

The high point of Cleese’s career was “Fawlty Towers,” the successful sitcom he created in 1975, and in which he starred along with his wife Connie Booth. The two divorced during the shooting of the first season, after 10 years of marriage - a fact that didn’t prevent them from writing and acting together during the second season of the series, which was about the owner of a small hotel in the coastal city of Torquay, England.

“Fawlty Towers” was highly successful worldwide, including in Israel, and is aired to this day in repeat broadcasts. In an interview with The Times about a decade ago Cleese said, “I’m too old to write new comedy. I can never do better than ‘Fawlty Towers,’ whatever I do ...”

In the following years Cleese acted in a large number of films, including the hit “A Fish Called Wanda” in 1988. In 2012 it was reported that he would participate in the film “Hunting Elephants,” a film by Israeli director Reshef Levi - but in the end it didn’t work out.

A collection of clips from Fawlty Towers

In November 2013 there was a report about a “Monty Python” reunion performance in June 2014. After all the tickets to the show had been sold within seconds, another nine shows were announced - the last of which was held on July 20th of that year.

“That really is going to be the last performance. All the Pythons now do such jolly different things. We were always a bit different but we very much diverged since our last big project in ’82 – ‘Meaning of Life’ – and I think that this is a perfect way to round the relationship off in a satisfactory way. I don’t think that any of us, deep down, would find it very comfortable doing any more shows.,” said Cleese at the time in an interview with the magazine Time Out London.

Throughout his life Cleese often made political statements, and in 2008 he even offered to be a speechwriter for then-U.S. President Barack Obama. He was very critical of the British government and became a declared supporter of Brexit. This year he even announced that due to the prolonged discussions about Brexit, and because of the corrupt press in the country, he was leaving England and moving to the Caribbean.

His new show, “Last Time to See Me Before I Die,” comes after his previous performance tour, which he dubbed “John Cleese: The Alimony Tour.” He staged his new show after 18 months of financial wrangling with his third ex-wife, Alyce Faye Eichelberger Cleese, a physiotherapist, author and radio show host. In the end it was decided that he would pay her 8 million pounds sterling (about 50 million shekels) in cash, and a monthly payment of 50,000 pounds sterling (about 310,000 shekels) for the following seven years, for a total of over 12 million pounds sterling (about 75 million shekels).

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