In addition to Cleese's, shows from this year by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Pearl Jam and Aerosmith have also been rescheduled – Photo: wikimedia

John Cleese is still breathing and will finally appear in Budapest

English funnyman John Cleese has defied death and his “Last Time To See Me Before I Die” tour will finally get to Budapest this June 11 and 12 after being postponed in April 2020 and then in June 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Cleese was born in Weston-super-Mare, England, on October 27, 1939 and would thus have been 80 in April 2020 and 81 in June 2021. He now stands tall (1.96 metres, in fact) at 82 years old.

Death has proved rich material for Cleese and one such sketch, Monty Python’s “Dead Parrot” routine, was voted Britain’s favourite in a poll in 2014. The premise is simple: an unsatisfied customer, Mr Praline, attempts to return a deceased Norwegian Blue parrot to a shop run by a bumbling pet peddler (Michael Palin) who drags up every excuse in the book (“It’s resting!… Probably pining for the fjords.”). Cleese is met with a barrage of synonymous phrases describing the bird’s untimely demise along with a few thumps on the counter for good measure.

Cleese’s candid autobiography “So, Anyway … “, published in 2014, touched on the sketch’s origins and its benign debut before becoming the classic it is today. The original draft involved a used car and shifty salesman, but that was deemed far too clichéd. Cleese and co-writer Graham Chapman settled upon animals instead of automobiles.

They tossed around the idea – What animal, then? A cat? No, dead kitties are not funny. A mouse? Wouldn’t work: too small, and too vulnerable. Something big? A dog? Could work, but people are fond of dogs. Imagine banging a dead dog against a counter to wake it up – you could get lynched. A parrot… ? Yes! Nobody’s going to get upset about the death of a cartoon creature like a parrot—except, perhaps, its owner…

And so the “Dead Parrot” sketch was born (or hatched?). According to Cleese, the sketch’s first performance was met with a lukewarm response. It’s now a fan favourite.

Death was again dealt with lightly in Python’s “The Undertaker’s Sketch”, in which Cleese enters a funeral parlour and informs the owner (Graham Chapman) that his mother has died, to be informed that, “Well there are three things we can do with your mother. We can burn her, bury her, or dump her”.

Cleese is aghast, and when the undertaker discovers that Cleese liked his mother, who he has brought to the funeral parlour in a sack, the option of dumping her in the River Thames is dropped. So should they bury her or burn her? “Well they’re both nasty,” says the undertaker. “If we burn her, she gets stuffed in the flames, crackle, crackle, crackle, which is a bit of a shock if she’s not quite dead. But quick. And then we give you a handful of the ashes, which you can pretend were hers.

“Or, if we bury her she gets eaten up, lots of weevils and nasty maggots, which as I said before is a bit of a shock if she’s not quite dead.”

And so the decision is taken to eat her. The undertaker: “Not raw, cooked! Roasted with a few french fries, broccoli, horseradish sauce… parsnips… Look, tell you what, we’ll eat her, if you feel a bit guilty about it afterwards, we can dig a grave and you can throw up in it.”

Come to think of it, Cleese does feel a bit peckish.

In the “Fawlty Towers 1979 episode “The Kipper and the Corpse”, a guest dies in his sleep at the hotel and Basil (Cleese) thinks his out-of-date kippers were the cause. How can he get the body out without anybody else noticing what has happened? Pandemonium sets in when it doesn’t quite go as planned.

John Cleese has not let bad taste hamper his comedy, then. These are the details for his shows at MoM Sport, Csörsz utca 14-16, District XII, this June 11 and 12 Tickets for the first show, originally planned for 24/04/2020 and then 13/06/2021, are automatically valid for the new date of 11/06/2022. Tickets for the second show, originally planned for 25/04/2020 and then 14/06/2021, the new date is 12/06/2022.

The seat numbers remain the same as originally bought. QR codes on the tickets can be shown on smart devices, and do not have to be printed. Both shows begin at 19.30 with entry opening at 18.30. Try to enter at least 20-30 minutes before the show starts.

Check the TicketSwap app to see if any tickets are left. Anyone unable to attend but holding tickets is recommended to resell on TicketSwap. The refund option is unavailable at Tixa.

Only a day or two to go, then, so Cleese looks safe from dying and cancelling out, for the moment anyway.

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