Monty Python fans are in for a treat. Comedy legend John Cleese handpicked Monty Python and the Holy Grail to be screened at the Music Center at Strathmore this Friday, followed by a conversation and Q&A with NPR’s Glen Weldon. We caught up with Strathmore Vice President of Programming Joi Brown about Friday’s event. Read on for the inside scoop.
On Tap: Why did the Strathmore team decide on Monty Python and the Holy Grail for the screening? To me, it’s the obvious choice (an all-time favorite of mine and in my opinion, the best Monty Python film!) but I’m curious what led to your decision to screen Holy Grail rather than say, Life of Brian.
Joi Brown: Thankfully, the film selection was made by Mr. Cleese himself. With so many great film options, it was a relief to have that important decision made by the person most qualified. We couldn’t be more pleased!
OT: Who will Cleese be speaking with onstage before he takes questions from the audience? Will the focus of the conversation be on Monty Python or extend to other parts of his career? (My fingers are crossed for some gems about A Fish Called Wanda!)
JB: The evening will be moderated by NPR’s Glen Weldon, who’s interest in pop culture and comedy make him an ideal host and guide for our conversations. I’m sure he’s neck deep in preparations and refreshing his memory watching films and clips. Glen will have questions prepared for Mr. Cleese, and will also take submissions from the audience.
OT: How much time is planned for the conversation? What about the Q&A?
JB: The conversation and Q&A will last about 75 minutes following the 90-minute film screening.
OT: What kind of crowd do you hope Strathmore will attract for this performance?
JB: I’m really curious to see what the Monty Python demographic will look like. I’m assuming it will include people who lived in my dorm, some of my relatives, [and] people who hang out in coffee shops and still visit record stores. It’ll no doubt be an eclectic mix, since Monty Python and John Cleese’s career in film have touched so many different viewers over the years.
OT: Will silly questions really be encouraged? How do you feel about hosting a room of diehard Monty Python fans in the Music Center?
JB: John Cleese likes having a wide range of questions – anything is fair game from his entire career. I’m sure people will not be surprised to find he’s agile on the impromptu responses, and he’s willing to go from extremes of silly to more serious reflective conversations about his work. We’re ready for the gamut when he comes to Strathmore!
OT: What would you say sets Cleese apart from other comedians who’ve performed at Strathmore? Why are you personally excited to welcome him to the Music Center?
JB: Not sure we’ve had many British living comedy legends at Strathmore. And this event is much more conversational than standup, so we are not getting a prepared routine that is the same in every city. The evening is completely off the cuff, authentic and unique.
OT: And last but not least, what is your favorite Monty Python skit and/or Cleese performance?
JB: Love the movies, but Fawlty Towers is my pick!
Don’t miss seeing John Cleese in the flesh, plus a screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, at the Music Center at Strathmore this Friday. Tickets start at $55, and the event will run approximately 165 minutes.
The Music Center at Strathmore: 5301 Tuckerman Ln. North Bethesda, MD; 301-581-5100; www.strathmore.org