Friday, 14 November 2014

So, Anyway... by John Cleese

So, Anyway...
by John Cleese

Hardcover, 400 pages

This book has had me calling people at all hours, reading hysterical passages while trying not to laugh so hard that I cry, wheeze, lose my voice, or pee my pants. For those of you that I called after midnight. My apologies. You know who you are.

Best enjoyed by those familiar with Cleese, it reads in his voice. Proper, silly, intelligent, irreverent, at times sentimental, at times not. And it begs for a second installment.

Where would we be without the Dead Parrot? The Ministry of Silly Walks? The Lumberjack Song?

It is fascinating to have this intimate look into his life from childhood through to the Monty Python days. All his varied studies and experiences, his collaborations, arrogance and self-doubt. I do hope there is another in in the works. He has so much more to tell!

From the Back Flap:

John Cleese’s huge comedic influence has stretched across generations; his sharp irreverent eye and the unique brand of physical comedy he perfected with Monty Python, on Fawlty Towers, and beyond now seem written into comedy’s DNA. In this rollicking memoir, So, Anyway…, Cleese takes readers on a Grand Tour of his ascent in the entertainment world, from his humble beginnings in a sleepy English town and his early comedic days at Cambridge University (with future Python partner Graham Chapman), to the founding of the landmark comedy troupe that would propel him to worldwide renown.

Cleese was just days away from graduating Cambridge and setting off on a law career when he was visited by two BBC executives, who offered him a job writing comedy for radio. That fateful moment—and a near-simultaneous offer to take his university humour revue to London’s famed West End—propelled him down a different path, cutting his teeth writing for stars like David Frost and Peter Sellers, and eventually joining the five other Pythons to pioneer a new kind of comedy that prized invention, silliness, and absurdity. Along the way, he found his first true love with the actress Connie Booth and transformed himself from a reluctant performer to a world-class actor and back again.

Twisting and turning through surprising stories and hilarious digressions—with some brief pauses along the way that comprise a fascinating primer on what’s funny and why—this story of a young man’s journey to the pinnacle of comedy is a masterly performance by a master performer.

John Cleese achieved his first big success in London’s West End and as a scriptwriter and performer on The Frost Report. He went on to co-found the legendary Monty Python comedy troupe, writing and performing in the first three TV seasons of Flying Circus and in films that include Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Life of Brian. In the mid-1970s, John Cleese and his first wife, Connie Booth, co-wrote and starred in the now classic sitcom, Fawlty Towers. Later, he wrote and co-starred in A Fish Called Wanda and Fierce Creatures. He has appeared in many other films, from James Bond to Harry Potter to Shrek, and has guest-starred in TV shows that have included 3rd Rock from the Sun, Will & Grace, and Entourage. He lives in London.