JOHN Cleese was a complete unknown when he appeared in a Cambridge Footlights show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more than half a century ago, but by the time he left he was well on his way to becoming a British comedy legend.
Now his daughter Camilla is following in his footsteps and will make her debut at one of the festival’s most popular venues this summer.
Cleese will be appearing in a 120-capacity room as part of the Gilded Balloon programme along with two other American stand-ups.
She is hopeful the MontyPython icon – who will reunite with his colleagues after more than 30 years for ten sold-out shows at the O2 arena in London in July – will make it to Edinburgh to see her UK live debut.
However, Cleese admitted that she would be “nervous” if she knew that her father would be attending – conceding his familiar figure would mean he not be able to keep his appearance at her show quiet for long.
The pair have collaborated on a number of projects in recent years, including his one-man stage show and a planned stage musical version of his classic film, A Fish Called Wanda.
Cleese, 30, who battled alcohol and drug addictions in her teens and early twenties, was born in London but moved to the United States with her father after he and her mother, Barbara Trentham, split up when she was ten. She lives in Los Angeles.
She told Scotland on Sunday: “I value his opinion more than anyone else and he’s an amazing person to work with, although the one thing we don’t see eye-to-eye on is stand-up comedy, which isn’t really a surprise considering he’s a 74-year-old man and I’m a 30-year-old woman.”
She added: “I’ve heard a lot about the Fringe and I’ve a few friends who come over every year, but I don’t really know what to expect.
“I’ve heard that you will cry a lot and that it is quite stressful, but also that is can be an awesome and amazing experience.
“It’s all been a bit last-minute with the three of us agreeing to do the show, and we’re just doing stand-up rather then sketches, as we had originally planned, but we’re already talking about coming back next year, if we get invited back, of course.”
Her father, who won fame thanks to four seasons of the cult television series Monty Python, which launched in 1969, appeared at the Fringe in 1963 as part of the Cambridge Footlights Revue.
Their show, which also starred Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke-Taylor, who would go on to star in The Goodies,was so successful it went to London’s West End and Broadway, and led to Cleese beingoffered comedy writing work with BBC Radio.
Camilla Cleese, who will be appearing with Court McCowan and Sarah Tiana, said: “I think I would be a bit nervous if I knew he was going to be in the audience in Edinburgh.
“It wouldn’t take too long for people to figure out that he was there.
“He’s six foot four and does not exactly have a subtle presence – even his walk isfamiliar.”
The full Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme will be published on 5 June.