My Comedy Hero: Michael Redmond on John Cleese
The Glasgow-based Irish stand-up picks the Monty Python legend as his comic icon
Sitting in my family sitting room sometime in late 1969 as a somewhat disenfranchised 19-year-old, suddenly a whole new world opened up for me. I found myself watching one of the early episodes of Monty Python with a couple of mates and we all simultaneously realised that there were other people out there who viewed the world in the same way as we did.
As an Irishman, living in Ireland at that time, I considered myself to be very lucky: why? Because in the area of Dublin where I lived, we received BBC TV by default. This was long before the days of satellite television; long before many things we take for granted today: no mobile phones, iPhones, iPads or the internet. If I'm honest, I'm not even sure if Soup of the Day was around then, back in the good 'ol days before soups became competitive. But we received BBC because apparently there was a huge BBC aerial construct on the coast of Wales and our house in south Dublin looked directly out on to the coast towards Wales and we received BBC for years. And didn't have to pay a penny.
All the Pythons were great but I suppose John Cleese stood out; yes, the 'Dead Parrot' sketch was magnificent but for me the cheese-shop sketch stands head over heels above the rest. I know it's been said many times that a lot of the sketches weren't always great but that pales into significance when you're gifted moments of pure genius. And I think John Cleese is a comic genius.
I realise that Monty Python was a group effort, but if there was ever any doubt of a brilliant comic mind (and body) at work, you only need to watch any episode of Fawlty Towers. Each one is simply hilarious from the writing to the performances.
My ultimate comedy hero has to be John Cleese, but I couldn't write an article about comedy heroes without giving a huge nod towards Groucho Marx, Spike Milligan, and the sublime Peter Cook.
Michael Redmond's Sunday Service is at The Stand, Glasgow, every Sunday.