John Cleese Plays the Devil, Makes a Special Appeal for Hell, 1966

Hell. We tend to take it for grant­ed. Have you ever stopped to think about the heat­ing bills, or the stu­pen­dous over­head?

John Cleese plays a cash-strapped Prince of Dark­ness in this clas­sic sketch from The Frost Report, the show that launched Cleese as a tele­vi­sion star in Britain. He was 26 years old at the time. The pro­gram was host­ed by David Frost, who is per­haps best known for his 1977 inter­views of Richard Nixon. There were four oth­er future Mon­ty Python come­di­ans on the writ­ing staff of The Frost Report–Gra­ham Chap­man, Ter­ry Jones, Michael Palin and Eric Idle–but only Cleese was a cast mem­ber. The show was broad­cast in 1966 and 1967, with each week­ly episode cen­tered around a par­tic­u­lar theme, like love, leisure, class and author­i­ty. The “Souls in Tor­ment Appeal” is from a March 24, 1966 pro­gram about sin. It’s a fun­ny sketch.

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Relat­ed Con­tent: 

John Cleese, Mon­ty Python Icon, on How to Be Cre­ative

Mon­ty Python’s Best Phi­los­o­phy Sketch­es

Mon­ty Python’s Away From it All: A Twist­ed Trav­el­ogue with John Cleese

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Comments (2)
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  • That’s not canned laugh­ter, if you mean a pre­re­cord­ed laugh track added on in post-pro­duc­tion. That’s a live audi­ence laugh­ing in the stu­dio. Big dif­fer­ence.

  • Mike Springer says:

    Hmm. It sound­ed pho­ny to me, Rod­ney. (Not pho­ny that peo­ple would laugh, but pho­ny in the way that it sound­ed.) But I’ve lis­tened to it again and you might be right. Damn.

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