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John Cleese Gallops to Tom Tom with UVA DOPS

In a special engagement with UVA’s Division of Perceptual Studies, meet the man behind Monty Python in a two-night series.

You may know him best for his warning about “The Killer Rabbit” in Monty Python: The Holy Grail, but John Cleese has more to his portfolio than being a parody of Sir Lancelot the Brave. Cleese, born in 1939 (yes, he’s old and so are you), has found great success in black humour (he’s British, leave us alone): he has been an actor, voice actor, comedian, screenwriter, and producer. He has performed on the silver screen, the small screen, and stage – and probably everything in between, but that’s for him to recount.

Known colloquially as “that silly tall guy,” Cleese’s work became distinctive in the second half of the 20th century with his articulate critiques on human nature, society, and politics by using black humour. He took on subjects and went full taboo in areas that many dared not to come within 100 metres of. His collaborations with Terry Gilliam and Graham Chapman honed his voice and unleashed his avalanche of characters onto the world.

Beyond acting, he has also served as a rector and professor at several institutions, and occasionally lets go of his caricatures in lieu of sitting down and leading philosophical discussions with students. John Cleese has been an enthusiastic Advisory Board member and passionately supports University of Virginia’s Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS) in the research they spearhead.

“An Evening with John Cleese” – with UVA DOPS on April 11th

Who is Cleese and who does he think he is? He is still figuring that riddle out, too. Join us at the Tom Tom Founders Summit (April 11-14) to answer some riddles and be a part of something truly magical. Cleese will grace us with his presence not just one night, but two: on April 11th, at The Paramount Theater, he will command the stage and put on a one-man show. This is a once-in-a-lifetime performance, presented by DOPS, which will include a night full of laughs, surprises, and, presumably, “silly walks.” 

Tickets for the one-man act, “An Evening with John Cleese,” on April 11th are currently available to All-Access and Patron Badge holders. A limited number of individual event tickets will be on sale soon.

“Life After Death” – John Cleese with UVA DOPS on April 12th

On April 12th, he will moderate and host a discussion; a presentation by the Division of Perceptual Studies at University of Virginia. Researchers from DOPS will hold a conversation on consciousness, also held at The Paramount Theater. 

In a panel discussion moderated by John Cleese, the UVA Division of Perceptual Studies research faculty will convene to present an overview of the research to which they have dedicated their academic careers. The DOPS panel presenters will be: director of UVA DOPS, Jim Tucker, MD; Ed Kelly, PhD; Emily Kelly, PhD; Bruce Greyson, MD; and Kim Penberthy, PhD. The Division of Perceptual Studies research unit is part of the Department of Psychiatry & Neurobehavioral Sciences within the University of Virginia School of Medicine. The scope of the UVA Division of Perceptual Studies research portfolios include: investigating children who claim to have past lives; the nature of consciousness and the mind-body relationship; neuro-imaging studies of psi events; and individuals who report experiencing near-death experiences.

“Life After Death” will be open to people with Summit badges, and All-Access and Patron badges with individual tickets going on sale soon.


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