The Time When John Cleese Wrote and Bet and Got Angry at a Newspaper


Letters of Note has a exchange from 1982 between John Cleese and the editor of The Sun, which stemmed from a report in that paper claiming that on the set of The Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, Cleese got frustrated at the weather and chastised a bunch of extras dressed as Zulu warriors by asking “Which one of you bastards did a rain dance?” Cleese, however, did not agree that he said that so he wrote a strongly worded letter. That ended with:

“I know what happened. I am a zany madcap comic, and your writer thought of the joke and decided to attribute it to me. It may be a minor matter but I do think is is quite unprofessional.”
“So why don’t we have a little sporting bet? I always think of The Sun as a fun newspaper with a bit of a weakness for a jolly wager like this. (Maybe we could even make a little “news” story out of it. ‘The Ministry of Silly Walks vs The Editor of The Sun’ or ‘The Sun’s Fawlty Statement’.)”