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'An Evening with the Late John Cleese:' Comedian's show touring his own funeral comes to Peoria

Mills Entertainment

Monty Python member John Cleese is bringing his live comedy show to the Peoria Civic Center, where he presents the performance as a funeral for himself.

Titled “An Evening with the Late John Cleese,” the show features Cleese performing a stand-up show that takes a look back at his own life and career, and also offers an opportunity for the audience to engage in a conversation with the comedian himself.

The show’s framing as a funeral for Cleese pokes fun at false reports of his own death earlier in 2023.

“I died about several weeks ago, and you’ve probably read about it in the papers,” Cleese jokes. “But fortunately, I was able to rise again on the third day, which is an old trick, which my maternal grandmother taught me, which is very useful, because I need the money.”

Cleese says that even at the age of 84 years old, he still enjoys touring, and part of the reason is the audience. He says the main difference with his live audiences is that they tend to be committed fans.

“When I go out on stage, the people who hate me have not bought tickets, only the people who like have bought tickets, so I always get a lovely and warm reception,” Cleese said, explaining why he still finds himself going back to touring. “If I made everybody laugh in the past, then I’ll make them laugh on the evening in question.”

The later half of the show features a chance for the audience to ask Cleese questions directly, which allows each night to be completely different. Cleese says that the audience tends to focus their questions on his career as part of comedy troupe Monty Python.

“A lot of them ask about Python, they’ll ask ‘who is my favorite Python,’ and they ask, ‘who’s going to die next,’” Cleese said. “There’s all sorts of dark humor that I enjoy... and we always get something about ‘what is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?’”

Cleese still finds himself embracing his status as a Python, and says he still gets engaging questions from the audiences about that part of his career. Cleese also says the reason why Monty Python still has both new and old fans to this day is quite simple.

“People like to laugh, and I think laughter is good,” Cleese said. “Many people now say to me, ‘thank you for helping me through this difficult time,’ and they realize that if you’ve had a bad day, they come back and put on a tape of Monty Python, half an hour later, they feel fine.”

Cleese is performing at the Peoria Civic Center Sunday, November 12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets and show info can be found on Cleese’s tour website.

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Holden Kellogg is an audio producer at WCBU.