I am gonna come clean now: I didn’t know who John Cleese is until two weeks ago. My best friend was appalled when he asked if I wanted to go to this Cleese talk together, and I looked at the event title and said “sure, I loved Kirshner’s class.”
But now I’m converted! The Monty Python star wrote, directed and stars in the brilliantly silly heist movie, A Fish Called Wanda, which screened at Cornell Cinema on Sept. 10. Cleese and professor Jonathan Kirshner, government, engaged in a prescreening conversation, which is just as funny and nutritious as the film.
Since his appointment as the A.D. White Professor-at-large ten years ago, famed British actor, comedian and screenwriter John Cleese has regularly visited Cornell’s campus to share his thoughts on a wide range of topics, including writing, theatre, film, psychology and religion.
And now for something completely different.
Stepping out of the shoes of Basil Fawlty, a gloriously rude hotel manager in the ‘70s television series Fawlty Towers, Cleese spoke yesterday to 130 Hotel Administration students as a well-traveled customer who has stayed in many hotels around the world.
Even before he opened his mouth, British actor and screenwriter John Cleese was already exercising the craft that lifted him to fame — making the audience laugh.
“He is part comedian. He is part psychologist, part master-teacher and fully, a public intellectual,” said Provost Kent Fuchs as he introduced Cleese, whose serious nods to Fuchs’s words enticed laughter from the 700 audience members in Statler Auditorium.