John Cleese talks Monty Python and criticizing politicians at the IU Auditorium


IU President Michael McRobbie greets John Cleese on Sunday afternoon at the IU Auditorium. John Cleese was a member of Monty Python, one of the most prolific comedy groups in history. Sam Oates Buy Photos

John Cleese not only insulted President Trump, he also ripped his own movie — one of the most famous comedy films of all-time — to shreds Sunday afternoon.

Cleese, a founding member of Monty Python, the comedy troupe best-known for the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," talked with audience members and IU President Michael McRobbie on Sunday. The event took place at the IU Auditorium and included a screening of the film and a Q&A session.

Cleese told the crowd he thought "Holy Grail" was overrated, despite its popularity in the United States. 

"The thing that annoyed me the most is the ending," Cleese said. "I got fed up with how boring the ending is." 

He then went shot-by-shot of the last scene of the movie and told the audience what was wrong with each scene. 

"This one goes on much too long," Cleese said of one of the battle scenes. "We don't know where the army came from." 

He re-cut the scene in the way he thought it should have been edited, giving the directors, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones, a hard time. 

"They ask why we ended the movie like that," Cleese said, referencing the ending scene in which the police arrive and arrest the Monty Python members, which totally breaks from the storyline set in the Middle Ages. "It was because we couldn't think of how to do it any other way." 

Cleese also talked about comedy as a means to satirize those in power. He remembered going to see a show with English comedian Peter Cook and hearing that people were appalled with his impersonating the English prime minister at the time. 

"They were making fun of things you didn't make fun of at that time," Cleese said. 

McRobbie, who led the Q&A portion of the event, spoke with Cleese about the current political atmosphere in the U.S. Neither McRobbie nor Cleese are originally from the States.

"As an Aussie, how do you feel about everything?" Cleese asked McRobbie. "I'm fascinated by what's going on at the moment." 

He also joked about how Tony Schwartz, ghost writer for President Trump's book, "Art of the Deal," said he had probably never read a book in his life.

Cleese broke down laughing when he said that. 

"You have a president," he said, coughing from laughter, "who has never read a-" He could not finish his sentence because he, along with the audience, couldn't stop laughing.

He said he does not mind sticking his neck out and calling out politicians, including Trump, and criticizing them. 

"The nice thing about being really old is you're going to be dead soon," Cleese said. "You don't give a fuck."

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