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John Cleese: So, Anyway... (Paperback); 2015…
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John Cleese: So, Anyway... (Paperback); 2015 Edition

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8293820,418 (3.82)12
Candid and brilliantly funny, this is the story of how a tall, shy youth from Weston-super-Mare went on to become a self-confessed legend. En route, John Cleese describes his nerve-racking first public appearance, at St Peter's Preparatory School at the age of eight and five-sixths; his endlessly peripatetic home life with parents who seemed incapable of staying in any house for longer than six months; his first experiences in the world of work as a teacher who knew nothing about the subjects he was expected to teach; his hamster-owning days at Cambridge; and his first encounter with the man who would be his writing partner for over two decades, Graham Chapman. And so on to his dizzying ascent via scriptwriting for Peter Sellers, David Frost, Marty Feldman and others to the heights of Monty Python. Punctuated from time to time with John Cleese's thoughts on topics as diverse as the nature of comedy, the relative merits of cricket and waterskiing, and the importance of knowing the dates of all the kings and queens of England, this is a masterly performance by a former schoolmaster.… (more)
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Title:John Cleese: So, Anyway... (Paperback); 2015 Edition
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So, Anyway... by John Cleese

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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Review will be at www.sezabez.wordpress.com ( )
  SarahRita | Aug 11, 2021 |
Interesting, entertaining, but left me sad. Maybe it's because it's the last thing of our trip to London, pre-covid, that I was holding on to, or maybe it was that I was wanting just a bit more. It was worth a read, but I don't know that I could read it again.

(Read physical with John Cleese doing his audiobook. He used recordings of sketches and he gives the book much more depth and meaning. It's his "f*coming book".) ( )
  binkocd | Jul 3, 2021 |
I received an advance copy of this autobiography from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a very generous and unexpected autobiography. I say that because most books of these types merely retell the scandals, bask in the highlights, and dish the dirt on the nasty habits of famous people. Well, we all love that and if we are being honest, that is why we paid the price of admission.

Not so this time. While Mr. Cleese does tell us what he really thinks of some of the famous, and not so famous, people in his life, the book isn’t really about that. Even when he does roast someone, it is usually in terms that are so over the top, and above all so damn funny, that it is hard to see any animosity in it. No lurid tales. No hatchet jobs on celebrities. What you do get is an extended tour inside the mind of a comic genius.

Mr. Cleese is a very intelligent, well read, and introspective man---who just happens to enjoy and be very good at absurd and farce. For me though, his brand of comedy is superior to the more recent absurdist humor of say a Will Farrell or Seth Green because through it all, it never loses its intelligence. You don’t feel that you lost IQ points just by watching the movie. Quite the opposite, actually. I always felt that Cleese and the other writers that he worked with had a respect for their audience that I feel is lacking in some modern writers. Give me A Fish Called Wanda every time.

Writers. This is a book about comedy writers. That is a real distinction here. Cleese points it out and that is something I took away from this book. Cleese, Chapman, Idle, Palin, and Jones were first writers, and only secondarily performers. Cleese doesn’t focus on description of performances, other than telling in hilarious and self deprecating detail as to how nervous he was before many important performances or how something got screwed up and why. What he does do is describe his views on what is funny, and even why we perceive it as funny. As someone who might have been happy living the life of an academic, he gives the reader a master class in comedy, and human nature. He also lets us in on what makes him tick, both as a comedy writer, and as a person, which in turn shaped his individual mindset and, from there, his very original sense of humor. It is almost as if a famous musician would explain what he was thinking as he wrote a iconic song, which they seldom do. I doubt they would want us to know. Not so with Cleese who seems to enjoy the analysis, as did I.

If you are interested in hearing who had the drinking problems, who cheated on who, and who had the most sex with farm animals, this is not the right autobiography. If you are interested in an intelligent conversation with a comedy genius (who doesn’t consider himself to be one) about the nature of comedy and comedians, the history of British comedy, and his own place in the overall scheme of things, then you will enjoy this very thorough yet lightly conversational book.
( )
  ChrisMcCaffrey | Apr 6, 2021 |
John Cleese's memoir of his life up to the moment Python started recording its first show.

It's a pretty low-key life, as I was expecting. But the Cleesean humor is consistently there. (Fun fact - surname "Cleese" was originally "Cheese." So in a parallel universe, we are calling it "Cheesey" humor.)

Cleese grew up an only child in the southwest of England and had a loving father and difficult mother. He went to law school at Cambridge, and graduated, with an offer to work at a law firm; but somehow comedy pulled him away. It's funny to think Cleese was a bona fide lawyer and Graham Chapman an actual doctor, as one watches them act out their ludicrous skits.

The happiest segment of Cleese's life feels to me like the two years he taught various subjects to 10-year-olds at his alma mater, while waiting for his place at Cambridge to open up. His love for the place is evident... as is the other love that shines through even more, that for his writing partner and brilliant, wonderful, wonderfully "complex" and difficult lifelong friend, Graham Chapman, RIP.

The book came out in 2014 and ends with a (forgotten, by me anyway) Python reunion. Terry Jones was still alive. Cleese gets in some surprisingly sharp yet not-quite-cruel digs at Jones only at the end; and, throughout, makes very cutting remarks about Terry Gilliam - I had not heard of any ill will between the two of them, but by the end I was feeling like it was all a big joke.

The Pythons were amazing. Cleese later won acclaim for FAWLTY TOWERS and FISH CALLED WANDA, but apart from at most two or three episodes of TOWERS, none of this later work lives up to his collaborative Pythonian work. He and Chapman lent the logic that balanced the ludicrosity offered up by the other Pythons. Like the Beatles, they were more than the sum of their parts; and every part was indispensible, perhaps Cleese more than any other. Just try to watch the final season after he'd left the show. It's like trying to listen to a Ringo Starr album. ( )
  Tytania | Jan 6, 2021 |
Okay, so this book wasn't really five stars, but I adore John Cleese to the point where he gets an automatic five star review from me. (Hey, people do the same thing with unreadable books written by multi-untalented authors, so don't bitch to me about Goodreads "standards")

There's something so refreshing in reading about the life of someone so intelligent, funny, and, at heart, a true gentleman of the old school. Aside from his wit, the man is also a genius of physical comedy, he can make me laugh without saying a word. I certainly hope he is enjoying his self-imposed exile in tropical paradise and continuing to have a fabulous life. ( )
  Equestrienne | Jan 5, 2021 |
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Cleese, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Matsson, MarianneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I made my first public appearance on the stairs up to the school nurse's room, at St. Peter's Preparatory School, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England, on September 13, 1948.
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Candid and brilliantly funny, this is the story of how a tall, shy youth from Weston-super-Mare went on to become a self-confessed legend. En route, John Cleese describes his nerve-racking first public appearance, at St Peter's Preparatory School at the age of eight and five-sixths; his endlessly peripatetic home life with parents who seemed incapable of staying in any house for longer than six months; his first experiences in the world of work as a teacher who knew nothing about the subjects he was expected to teach; his hamster-owning days at Cambridge; and his first encounter with the man who would be his writing partner for over two decades, Graham Chapman. And so on to his dizzying ascent via scriptwriting for Peter Sellers, David Frost, Marty Feldman and others to the heights of Monty Python. Punctuated from time to time with John Cleese's thoughts on topics as diverse as the nature of comedy, the relative merits of cricket and waterskiing, and the importance of knowing the dates of all the kings and queens of England, this is a masterly performance by a former schoolmaster.

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