So, Anyway...

  • by John Cleese
  • Narrated by John Cleese
  • 13 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.

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What the Critics Say

"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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Too many people reviewing the man, not the book.

Like anyone else who bought Say Anything, I am a fan of Mr, Cleese and his work. However this "Autobiography" is not very good. Even though nothing is said about it, this book effectively ends when Cleese turns thirty, and Monty Python is writing their first sketch. You want to know about Monty Python? Not in this book. You want to hear about Fawlty Towers? Barely a word about it. A Fish Called Wanda, or Harry Potter or James Bond? No way. Its almost amusing how far Cleese goes to AVOID talking about anything interesting. He was in Footlights, a Cambridge theater troupe. He never once mentions that future fellow Python Eric Idle was in the same troupe, only a year behind himself and Graham Chapman. I am not sure if Idles or Terry Jones name is ever mentioned in the 16 chapters given here.. To be fair, quite a bit is written about Graham Chapman, who was Cleeses most consistent writing partner in the period before and during Python, but I never felt like Chapman and Cleese ever connected as real friends, and I know very little about Chapman that I didnt know before I listened to this book. (And I didnt know much) In fact the only people that make any sort of impact on Cleese for his first thirty years are his mother, (Whom he loathes) and his first wife, Connie Booth, whom he seems to still be fond of. Otherwise, no friends, no people who are there as mentors, no real connections of any kind. Its a bit sad, but the book seems to be a protracted therapy session, except we the audience is paying Cleese for the privilege of him telling people we never knew that they were mean to him in 1956. I did like that Cleese narrated his own work, but that was the best part of this missive. BEWARE TO EVERYONE WHO IS THINKING OF GETTING THIS. It ends in 1969, on the day Python is producing their first sketch. Nothing you care about happened to John Cleese before 1969. Its like reading a book about Albert Einstein, that ends when he gets a job as a patent clerk. There is so much you want to know about, but you will not find it here. To those people giving this such glowing reviews? You are doing your fellow readers a disservice to not warn them that this is a very partial autobiography.
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- Barry

Cleese, the early years, in his own voice

This is a really fun autobiography, but before you buy, you do need to take note of one thing: The book more or less ends when Monty Python is formed. Things like Fawlty Towers and A Fish Called Wanda are mentioned often, but they are not really covered.

The book is joy to listen to, as Mr Cleese recalls his childhood, education, and early work, both in the U.K. and U.S. There are a few actual clips of old routines, and he often has to pause to laugh as he relates funny episodes from his past.

My personal hope is that he decides to do a follow-up, covering the years from Monty Python to present day.
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- G. Beauchamp

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-13-2016
  • Publisher: Random House Audio