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So, Anyway... Hardcover – November 4, 2014

4.1 out of 5 stars 442 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

New York Times Bestseller

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

“The long-awaited story of the actor’s life, told how he wants to tell it.” —The Guardian

About the Author

JOHN CLEESE cofounded the legendary Monty Python comedy troupe, writing and performing in the first three TV seasons of Flying Circus and in films that include Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Life of Brian. He cowrote and starred in the sitcom Fawlty Towers, and wrote and costarred in A Fish Called Wanda and Fierce Creatures. He has also coauthored two best-selling books on Psychology.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype; 1St Edition edition (November 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038534824X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385348249
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (442 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Magdic on January 11, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is not a celebrity book and it is not a funny book primarily. Rather, in my view, this is an account of how an extraordinary artistic talent is forged in an "ordinary" human being as we all start. What works particularly for this book is that, especially if you're a Python fan, you know the person very well from the outside, so when you hear what happened on the inside, and how slowly and painfully that talent has developed, it makes it that much easier to understand and appreciate the process. And you would care for that, I think, if you care about psychology, art, and if you are working to develop artistic talent yourself, regardless of whether it is related to comedy (Cleese's art in question) or not. There is some very good advice to be heard in this book.

There is bitterness in it too, as if there is a grumpy old man sharing the same skull with the genius who delighted so many people around the world, and the grumpy man is wondering why he can't experience some of that delight for himself. That man seems to be searching for meaning, something I hope John will find eventually. Though I suspect had he found it earlier in life, he'd have been a happier man and we wouldn't have as much of his hilarious work to enjoy.

But there is also good fun peppered throughout the book -- a few stories you'll remember which I think were alone worth the price and the time. In the end, I was sorry the book ended, but given that John basically just covered the first half of his life, there's hope that one day we'll get part II.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
John Cleese has long been a favourite of mine. Recently, in an interview with NPR, Cleese said (about writing jokes), ‘I think if you start trying to write jokes that you don't think are funny in order to make a sort of theoretical audience somewhere else laugh, I think that's death. I think you've got to do what you find funny yourself and just hope that people find it funny.’

Cleese was about to graduate from Cambridge and go on to a career in law when he was approached by the BBC to begin writing for them, based on his experience with the Cambridge student comedy. He worked for some major names before becoming part of the uber-famous Monty Python troupe. As a senior member of that group, he had a lot of creative and organizational sway, but the overall success was that all of the members worked as a team. The Dead Parrot sketch, for example, came out of an older routine that involved a used-car salesman, and the writing went through many different potential dead animals (injured animals would not be funny, and you have to know what’s funny) before they settled on the ex-parrot who had ceased to be.

Cleese talks about his relationships private and professional, including some that overlapped (Connie Booth, for example, was both his wife and his co-star on the cult classic series ‘Fawlty Towers’). He also talks about the various films he’s been in, often portraying very similar characters (who doesn’t expect Cleese to be part Python and part Fawlty no matter what he’s doing?) but successfully melding them into different settings.

There aren’t many great and grand revelations here, but some interesting insights and tidbits along the way that will please fans of comedy in general and of British comedy, Fawlty Towers, and Monty Python in particular.
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Format: Hardcover
The thing that I found most startling about JOHN CLEESE: SO, ANYWAY is the fact that John Cleese very nearly became a lawyer. He accounts the story where he had to frantically study for his exam in criminology and he passed it with a high score (with just a few days actual study.) Shortly after obtaining his degree, Cleese was all set to join a law firm in the city. Instead, he was approached by the BBC, who wanted him to work in their light entertainment section.

It's a wonderful thing that Cleese did not become a lawyer. Can you imagine John Cleese defending you on a murder charge?

It's true that this book spends a lot of time on the details of the author's childhood childhood and college days, but I still found it interesting. Not surprisingly, Cleese was an awkward bullied boy, not very popular at all. He did not have a great childhood, and had a very awkward relationship with his parents--especially his mother.

When Cleese started doing comic sketches in his college days, he discovered, as he put it, his "one really great talent." He had a great sense of timing. He really knew how to time his lines, and became adept at watching and understanding the audience reaction.

I thought this book was supposed to be a funny book, but it's not (and not supposed to be.) Rather, it's an interesting study of one of the funniest comedians in history. The book is very well written and easy to follow. I thought the book was a little slow at times, mostly when the author accounts all of the various childhood chums and so on. But overall, I enjoyed reading this book, and I now know a lot more about this great comedian.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is more about his early life, before Monty Python. He tells about his early childhood, how timid he was, and later how inexperienced he was about women, being in the public eye, and his abilities as a writer and performer. Only towards the end does he write a little about the group, Monty Python. There's too much about his little known friends, and very little about Python, and the members of the group. All in all, I was kinda disappointed, cause I wanted to learn more about the very group he basically leaves out.
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