John Cleese Says He’s Been Contacted by the Ghost of Graham Chapman

A psychic arranged a mini-Monty Python reunion
John Cleese Says He’s Been Contacted by the Ghost of Graham Chapman

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Original Monty Python member Graham Chapman is a stiff. Bereft of life, he rests in peace. He’s pushing up the daisies. His metabolic processes are history. Chapman kicked the bucket, shuffled off this mortal coil, and joined the bleedin' choir invisible. In short, he’s an ex-Python. But that doesn’t mean he can’t get in touch with his old comedy cohort John Cleese once in a while.

How is that possible? First, it helps to understand Cleese’s beliefs about consciousness. On a recent episode of Bill Maher’s Club Random podcast, he shared his version of transmission theory. “Consciousness is some extraordinary thing that exists out there,” he told Maher. “And our brains don't generate consciousness. Our brains are like a television set. We don't produce the program in the television set. The television set allows us to access the program that's out there.”

But our brain TVs aren’t all wired with equally sensitive antennas, Cleese says. Just like some people are good at basketball, others “can pick stuff up that no one else knows about.” Is he talking about psychics? Heck yeah, Cleese is talking about psychics. In fact, Cleese had a conversation with a psychic earlier in the day and “two of my oldest friends appeared.” 

“Who’s Graham?” the psychic asked Cleese.

“Is it Graham Chapman?” he wondered.

“He’s going on about a pipe.”

That clinched it. Cleese confirmed that Chapman always smoked a pipe. Then the psychic described “Graham” rolling up his trouser leg. “Oh, that's a sketch we did about the Freemasons,” Cleese said. 

Maher played the skeptic. Couldn’t the psychic just be referencing an old sketch that she’d seen on the telly (the electronic kind)? 

“No,” replied Cleese. Maher asked why not. Cleese admitted that the sketch had been broadcast once or twice, but the psychic couldn’t have seen it “because I know she didn’t.” Well, okay then.

Maher wasn’t going to tell Cleese he was nuts, but he did bring up the fact that stage mentalists do seemingly impossible tricks — but they are tricks nonetheless. 

Cleese fired back with more evidence. “She said the first time he's waving a parrot at me,” said the comic. “We wrote that sketch, the Dead Parrot sketch.” 

“I think I could do this job,” Maher replied, a nod to pretty much everyone knowing the group’s most famous comedy bit. 

But Cleese had an even more convincing example. “The second time she said to me, he's waving something like a monkey. It's got a sort of stripy tail. He's showing this to me and he says that it's named after you.”

Aha! It had to be a ring-tailed lemur that a biologist, after getting the comic’s permission, named after Cleese — Cleese’s Woolly Lemur, to be precise. “There's no way she would've known that.”

Maher wasn’t so sure. “That is obscure. I'll give you that, he said, but still. “Are you sure it wasn't in ‘25 Things You Don't Know About Me’ in Us Magazine?” Heck, maybe the psychic read about it on Cracked


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