John Cleese Shuns Palmerston North – “Suicide Capital of New Zealand”

John Cleese Palmerston North

John Cleese won’t be risking a return visit to Palmerston North

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Writer, actor, and tall person, John Cleese, is taking his life in his hands and making a return trip to New Zealand.

In 2005 the British comedian left residents in Palmerston North smarting by describing it as New Zealand’s “suicide capital”.

Cleese said he had a “bloody miserable time” during his My Life, Times and Current Medical Problems tour of New Zealand.

“If you wish to kill yourself but lack the courage to, I think a visit to Palmerston North will do the trick. We stayed in a little motel, the weather was grotty, the theatre was a nasty shape and the audience was very strange to play to. We had a thoroughly, bloody miserable time there and we were so happy to get out.”

Just occasionally when you’re on a tour you get a town that’s particularly depressing. When you do have that the best thing to do is to hate it and to enjoy hating it because then you don’t get depressed. And all of us at that particular occasion and at that particular time fell in hate with Palmerston North and although it kicked up a fuss at the time there was a second slew of letters that came to us from people in Palmerston North saying, “You’re absolutely right. It is a dump”. So the opinion in Palmerston North itself was divided 50/50.

In characteristic New Zealand style, the city’s mayor didn’t appreciate Cleese’s satire (nor his irony) and chose instead to make an ad hominem attack against the laconic star.


Heather Tanguay speaking at a 2007 demonstration

Mayor Heather Tanguay (above) responded in true Palmerston North style. She told the Manawatu Standard newspaper.

“Obviously he still has trouble with his medical problems and may need some more medication”

Obviously over-medication is the solution to tolerating Palmerston North.

Mayor Tanguay left Palmerston North shortly afterwards to live in Auckland. Apparently she was upset at being told she wasn’t fit to lead the city because she wasn’t a Christian.

According to Wikipedia, Tanguay is now working for the NZ government’s Department of  Internal Affairs.

You couldn’t make this stuff up, could you?

Cleese is returning to New Zealand in March to play shows in Auckland and Wellington with Eric Idle. The tour is called John Cleese & Eric Idle: Together Again At Last … For The Very First Time.

You can read loads more about Palmerston North here: Palmerston North

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Days of wine and bitterness: More details about why Tanguay left Palmerston North

This story explains a number of things she never really talked about: Why she chose to put out a bizarre press release during her campaign, outing councillors who identified as Christians.

2 thoughts on “John Cleese Shuns Palmerston North – “Suicide Capital of New Zealand”

  1. Wonder what he would think of Christchurch. I doubt the majority of Kiwis even comprehend Monty Python humour.

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