John Cleese In Chicago 2024John Cleese enjoys being naughty.

Legendary comic John Cleese brought his show to Chicago's Vic Theatre on Wednesday evening. Depending on which advertisement one read, the show was titled either "Last Chance to See Me Before I Die" or "An Evening with the Late John Cleese." Both titles are equally morbid - one suggesting the man's impending demise, the other mourning his recent passing.

An announcer began the show by introducing Mr. Cleese, who walked a few steps onto the stage, waved to the audience, and then walked off just before a video showed highlight performances from his numerous television and movie appearances. The video screen flickered on multiple times during the first set, showcasing scenes from Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, or The Meaning of Life to illustrate a point the comic was making.

John returned to the stage and told jokes and funny stories for an hour before leaving again for a brief intermission.

He took the time to explain what makes something funny. He told us that jokes are best when they are edgy and make people a bit uncomfortable. Once, a wildlife organization asked John to contribute a recipe. He responded with a recipe for poached giant panda in snow leopard sauce. Jokes making fun of people are OK, as long as they come from a position of affection rather than meanness, he insisted to us before launching into a series of stories mocking Irish, Welsh, Jews, Italians, and other ethnic groups. It had us laughing, even if we sometimes felt guilty doing so. He shared his frustration about those who put limits on what a comedian can say.

Cleese poked fun at American politicians on both sides. The 84-year-old comic walks with a shuffling gate that he compared to fellow octogenarian Joe Biden. He showed a series of photographs of dead heroes to convince us that dead people are superior. The contrasting images of awful living people included many brutal dictators and ended with Donald Trump.

Following an intermission, Cleese returned to answer questions from the audience. Here, he displayed his remarkable wit, commenting on everything from his opinions of his fellow Python cast members to the possibility of an afterlife.

It was an evening of philosophy, of conversation, and of humor - both light and dark.

It was an evening of much rejoicing.