by John Cleese
Doubleday Canada (Penguin Random House)
Buy from Indigo
Description: 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.
The Good Stuff
- It's written by John Cleese - need I say more (Grew up with British Television loving parents so I was introduced quite early to the brilliance of Cleese and his mates)
- Just thoroughly enjoyed his candor with the fact that he was writing his book his way and just didn't give a fuck what anyone thought. He just shares his thoughts and his experiences and doesn't mince words
- Enjoyed his reasoning for including some of the skits in the book and his reasoning is hilarious (oh and so are the skits)
- I feel a connection with him based on the fact that I also detest know-it-alls (See pg 26).
- I enjoyed his commentary on the British Press and very much appreciated his candor
- Loved the story about Geoffrey Tolson and the instance which led to the creation of the beginning of the sex lesson scene in The Meaning of Life.
- Fascinating paragraphs on the description of humour
- Ok its silly I know but I really enjoyed his commentary on Canadians
- Loved how he described Graham Chapman's coming out and the conversation between Pippa and Cleese about Graham coming out - wonderful stuff and quite worth the price of the book
- Thought he quite eloquently expressed the difficulty as a celebrity in dealing with request for autographs, charity, etc. And how he has dealt with it. (See pages 320-322)
- As a fan of many British actors, I enjoyed hearing stories about Peter Sellers, David Frost, Marty Felman, Peter Cook etc
- Learned that he was French-kissed on camera by Tim Curry (Check it out http://youtu.be/r3q8QsXGzvY) - Damn I wish Tim Curry had written a biography
- I finally understood that Cleese is a writer who performed, not the other way around
The Not So Good
- Far more serious than I expected. Not really a bad thing, more of a heads up
- I wanted more stories about his time working on the Monty Python movies and a Fish Called Wanda
- A little too much psychology for me, but again, not a bad thing just a heads up and it is his book so he can talk about whatever he wants to
Favorite Quotes/Passages (Sorry so many to choose from, I just didn't)
"I think Dad was secretly proud of his Jewish connections; in an age where there was so much prejudice, he did what he could to work against it, although hew was prepared (with Mother) to make an exception of the Welsh. This is a well-established West Country trait, and rooting it out will take may generations I fear."
"BRITISH JOURNALISTS tend to believe that people who become good at something do so because they seek fame and fortune. This is because these are the sole motives of people who become British journalists. But some people, operating at higher levels of mental health, pursue activities because they actually love them."
"A good sense of humour is the sign of a healthy perspective, which is why people who are uncomfortable around humour are either pompous (inflated) or neurotic (oversensitive)"
"It's just a shame that for seven months of the year it's so cold that only Canadians would put up with it."
"Nowadays I have a simple rule: you can ask me anything you like, provided I can say "No"."
I received this from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review