The penultimate event in Live Talks LA’s fifth season sold out quickly, a month beforehand. A total of 900 copies of John Cleese’s autobiography were purchased in conjunction with the Nov. 18 Alex Theatre sit-down.
And per a full video of the conversation now posted, a nearly equal amount of scintillating anecdotes were shared.
Event series founder-producer Ted Habte-Gabr has matched up a lot of great authors and interviewers over the years, but the pairing of Cleese with Monty Python pal Eric Idle ranks right at the top. Probably the funniest single stretch was when Cleese and Idle recalled touring New Zealand during their earliest days (“We left England in July 1964 and we arrived in Auckland in…” Cleese began. To which Idle added: “in July 1864.”)
There were also, during the discussion, a couple of notable mentions of Rupert Murdoch. At one point, Idle and Cleese talked about having recently read Nick Davies’ acclaimed book Hack Attack: How the Truth Caught Up With Rupert Murdoch:
Idle: “It’s a very interesting book of how, we won’t mention his name – Rupert Murdoch! – took over England, really, and was responsible for electing Thatcher, Blair, Major and Brown. That power is really extraordinary.”
Cleese: “I actually had to stop reading the book one night because I was feeling scared. And I’m not actually joking. I had no idea quite how ruthless these people were to establish their power.”
Idle [deadpanning]: “But luckily, he has no influence in America.”
At the end of the evening, when Idle rifled through cards with questions from the audience, here’s how Cleese answered, ‘Is there anything in life that you have always wanted to do, that you haven’t yet?:’
“Yes! I would love to strangle Rupert Murdoch with my bare hands.”
To thunderous crowd applause, Cleese pantomimed how he would do the deed, while Idle noted: “I think that means something in Australia – ‘Strangling the Murdoch.'”