Laughter is the Best Medicine

How real madness inspired a comedy legend – BBC

The only real difference between him and
Basil was that he was small and had a very large, hen pecking wife, and obviously
we couldn’t find anyone much bigger than me, so we decided to reverse that. But
otherwise, I mean he was just wonderfully bad-tempered.
I went up to the desk the first day and said, “Excuse me.”
And he’s one of those people that doesn’t look up.
You stand at the desk… LAUGHTER
And it goes on… You think, did he hear me?
And then you say, “Excuse me…” “Yes?”
LAUGHTER “Could you possibly call me a taxi?”
“Could you call me a taxi?” “Call you a taxi?”
HE SIGHS “Yes, right, all right…”
LAUGHTER He was wonderful.
All the other Pythons moved out of the hotel
and went to stay at the Imperial. I stayed on… He also rebuked
Terry Gilliam for his table manners,
because Terry, being American, cuts the food up,
puts the knife there, fork in the right hand, and eats.
He went past, he said, “You don’t eat like that.”
LAUGHTER And he also had real madness in him,
apart from rudeness. Because Eric Idle left his briefcase
by the door one morning, waiting to be picked up by a car,
and he forgot the briefcase, he went off to film and came back,
and Eric said to the guy, “I left a briefcase by the…”
He said, “What? “Oh, yes, it’s behind the wall,”
and pointed out of the front door, you see.
And there was a swimming pool and a big white wall behind it.
And Eric said, “Behind the…” He said, “What?”
He said, “Behind the white wall…?” “Yes, behind the wall,
behind the wall!” LAUGHTER
And Eric said, “Well…?” “What?”
“May I ask, why is it behind the wall?”
And he said, “Erm, I thought there might be a bomb in it.”
LAUGHTER And Eric said, “A bomb?”
Cos this was all pre-IRA and everything.
And he said, “Well, we’ve had a lot of staff problems recently.”

26 thoughts on “How real madness inspired a comedy legend – BBC

  1. The audience pick up with laughter because they can hear the recognisable Basil Fawlty character coming through every time John Cleese gives his stories of what Donald Sinclair was actually like.

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