So, as promised...
As previously mentioned in this post here, John Cleese came down with a particularly nasty bout of Prostatitis (an inflammation of the prostate gland...ouch and yowzah!) during this year's Just For Laughs, and eventually had to reschedule his Wednesday, July 22nd show into two of ‘em on Sunday, July 26th. Due to his fragility, we tried to conserve his energy, and one such energy-conserving tactic was for John to switch roles with me during rehearsals, i.e. he watching the proceedings, the movements and the stage blocking as a director with me stepping into his role with the actors under the lights. That's me on the right below:
...and in case you need even more encouragement to pull out your wallet, I am going to do something tonight that I have never done before in my career – that is, I will take requests. From you in the audience, and from those of you at home.
I’m sure many of you would like to see some of my famous routines. Perhaps some Basil Fawlty. Or the French Taunter. I’m even willing to re-enact my dramatic scene with Keanu Reeves from ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’… No? All right… Anyway, as long as you donate, I will do anything you ask.
(Man in audience stands up)JC:
Yes sir, what would you like me to do?
For a dollar twenty five, I would like to hit you with this piece of plywood.
What would happen next is George Reinblatt, one of the show’s writers and annual role players, would climb up on stage an whack John across the back with a two-by-four. Well, since I was now playing John, I had to go the distance and take one for the team.The menacing board was made of balsa wood and designed to “break away” on contact, so I braced myself for the assault.
Well, let me assure you that even made of balsa, being cracked on the spine with a truncheon hurts…especially when it doesn’t “break away” as advertised. The crack sounded like Albert Pujols connecting with a fastball during a Home-Run Derby, and it sent me to the ground with a one-word curse instantaneously.
The 10 extras portraying telethon operators (those seated behind me in the photo above) looked on in horror as I writhed upon the stage floor, groaning, trying to rid myself of the blur of stars I was seeing.
After a few simultaneous gasps from others in attendance, the whole theatre went silent for about 20 seconds.And then, the silence was broken by a most familiar British-accented voice, albeit a little weaker than usual, which said, sotto voce from his seat in the front row:
“Come on…get up, you wimp!”