John Cleese in Dubai - An Evening with
It can be hard to pull a crowd, let alone a full house in Dubai on a Tuesday night, but that's what was achieved by John Cleese – who would have been John Cheese if his dad hadn't changed his name hoping to avoid any further cheese-based jokes upon entering the army as a young lad.
This is the sort of insight you'll get into the life of John during his performance. It's funny, but not stand-up comedy – the sort of conversation you'd regale about having with one of Britain's most legendary talents if you'd been lucky enough to bump into him at a bar. He's on top form without appearing to be trying too hard.
Cleese, 74, goes on to reveal deeply intimate moments, like the time he was asked to read at the funeral of fellow Python Graham Chapman, who died of throat cancer aged just 48 as a result of an attachment to his pipe. Cleese shares grainy film footage of himself behind the pew breaking taboos in a fitting salute to a friend who loved to do just that. His speech had funeral goers laughing uncontrollably.
So this is a story about friends, family and an extraordinary life in progress despite the sombre introduction of the "soon to be deceased John Cleese".
Theories of 'black comedy' and its birth are explored and a fiercely cherished segment of British history is celebrated in this one-man show.
At the end, the audience are invited to ask questions. Please don't waste a grab of the mic with anything overly polite or rudimental – Cleese wants to be challenged. He is, after all, a man with an epic CV who's lowliest achievement was a Cambridge law degree.
Cleese's response to the age-old "Who would be your top five dinner guests?" was entertaining but probably well rehearsed. He became most animated when asked how he felt about losing his role as Q in the Bond films. Then you get the juice – the insider info journalists hope for in that all-exclusive one-on-one interview.
And in case you're wondering what he thinks of Dubai: Unique. A bit like Vegas. But with flashes of good taste.
This is a man who, in his own peculiar way, shaped our world. It's an opportunity lost to not ask something you shouldn't.
INFO: An Evening with John Cleese, Dhs350 (balcony), Dhs380 (last seven rows), Dhs450 (first eight rows), 5 to 9 November 2013, Madinat Theatre, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, 04 366 6546, www.madinattheatre.com - it's a sell-out, so you could try bartering a superflous kidney for a ticket from a friend or just check with the theatre for any cancellations