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 listeners 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 humor 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.
"So, Anyway... ambles along in loose fashion, taking its time, stopping to admire the view here and there, dispensing a little social commentary...and otherwise taking the scenic route through a mostly sunny landscape. The effect is a bit like having a long lunch with an amiable, slightly loony uncle. Who also happens to be John Cleese." (Michael Ian Black, The New York Times Book Review)
"John Cleese's memoir is just about everything one would expect of its author - smart, thoughtful, provocative and above all funny...a picture, if you will, of the artist as a young man." (Washington Post)
"Give John Cleese points for candor.... Give him additional points for graceful writing and sly humor...." (Philadelphia Inquirer)
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Cleese, the early years, in his own voice
- G. Beauchamp
Missing a few chapters
- Kent Curtis