November 29, 2023

John Cleese, the comedy veteran star of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers, has made a surprising admission – that he once killed a man.

Cleese wrote and appeared in the comedy hit film A Fish Called Wanda – also starring Kevin Kline and Jamie Lee Curtis – and he revealed in the latest episode of his new talk show that one man was laughing so much during a screening of the film, he had a cardiac arrest and died.

Cleese expanded on the story during a conversation in his GB News series, The Dinosaur Hour, saying:

“Kevin Kline and I killed a man in Denmark. He was a dentist, he had a huge laugh. A famous laugh. Very popular. It was in Aarhus, not a big town, but everybody knew him.

“And he went to see Wanda and he started laughing about two minutes in and never stopped.

They carried him out dead, he’d had a heart attack.”

Cleese came to the forefront of British comedy with his Monty Python series and later the sitcom Fawlty Towers, and has also shared his experience of depression. He reflected that many fans had shared with him over the years the benefits of being made to laugh, stories that had made him reassess the value of creating comedy.

“I realised about ten years ago that making people laugh is kind of doing more than just making them laugh. When you do a Comicon [fan event] or something like that and people come up and say, “Thanks for making me laugh all these years,” it leaves a tear in the eye. 

“It is lovely, beautiful. Some others say thank you for helping me through some of the difficult periods. And you suddenly realise that if people laugh, it helps, it’s not just entertainment.”

A Fish Called Wanda, released in 1988, was made on a budget of $7.5m, and went on to take $188m at the global box office.

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