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 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.
What a wonderfully written and insightful book. I’ve always loved John Cleese. No idea why! Just did. Call it intuition. Annnnnd, I was right! Plus, love him even more now. (Not just because I was right, but that did help. Relieved he’s not a wanker.)55
I loved reading this book. It was difficult to put it down. Incredibly entertaining and informative. John is a class act. His humor has helped me immensely in bumpy times of my life. I’m forever grateful for having discovered him and his performances.55
Interesting. Funny at points, but not a comedic "act." This is, as billed, an autobiography of a talented, interesting and at times insightful man who made us laugh. If you are wanting to read a Monty Python script, this is not it. If you want to read about the life and work of a wonderful comedic writer, this is worth the read.45
Interesting and entertaining!55
I hope an audiobook comes out.55
Thank you, Mr. Cleese.55
"So, Anyway" is, as Robin Williams would say... "pretty wonderful." It is full of gentle hard-won wisdom and keen insights. And very funny. Oh, the difference, between being solemn and being serious. And, as an animal lover, knowing that John Cleese had a hamster at Cambridge, just makes me love him more. My only frustration is that I can HEAR John Cleese speaking in my head as I read it. It is almost painful that no audiobook exists. Please Mr. Cleese...read your book to us.55
In "So, Anyway...", John Cleese admits his left brain thinking preference. His memoir reflects that approach. A series of milestone event facts sprinkled with cursory references to often minor relationships. The exception is when he writes about Graham Chapman and their fruitful collaboration. More pages on the relationship with his first wife Connie and their Fawlty Towers work would have made this book more engaging.25
Insightful glimpse into the workings behind one of the funniest comedy troupes in the history of man.45
This book was not at all what I expected from John Cleese, but I enjoyed it immensely, laughed out loud in a few places and felt sad in others. Even a comic genious sometimes feels self- conscious and unappreciated. The very best thing about the book is that John acknowledges the chance opportuities that came to him and has so many good things to say about the people he worked with — not only the “Pythons,” but many many others as well. His book titilated my curiosity to seek out some of the early radio and TV comedy shows that infuenced him and read some of the books he found interesting. I found it to be a “can’t put down” read.55