Once deemed “Britain’s Most Influential Comedian,” actor John Cleese has broken the mold made for comedians in his decades-long career by exploring psychology, politics, and even business training. Cleese regularly embarks on speaking tours, allowing audience members to ask ANY question they have, no matter how invasive.
NewsWorks Tonight’s Dave Heller spoke with the Monty Python founding member ahead of his engagement for the Philadelphia Speaker Series.
For Cleese, touring in America is less daunting than “16 stops in 17 days” may seem because he is guaranteed to have the audience on his side. “If they didn’t like what I was doing, ten they wouldn’t buy a ticket. The audience is pre-selected to think that the sort of stuff I do is funny, and pre-selected to like me personally.” But he does find a major difference between certain regions: an understanding of irony. “I think that the lack of irony in the Midwest and South is a very important feature of the culture there.” He says audiences in areas that he finds do not appreciate irony usually enjoy themselves just as much, but are less responsive.
Not one to shy away from politics, Cleese is annoyed by the assumption by many Americans that Brexit is a bad decision. He says those who haven’t suffered under the European Union, which he describes as “5,000 bureaucrats telling everyone which apples to eat” wouldn’t get it.
After the interview, Cleese hears that Franklin Institute Chief Astronomer and SkyTalk co-host Derrick Pitts is in the studio and has one question: is Saturn missing?