Friday, October 16, 2015

So Anyway by John Cleese

Though I am a John Cleese fan, I rarely watched Monty Python when it originally aired. (It was on at a bad time for me, as I recall.) Nonetheless, certain bits and bobs did make their way into my world, enough so that I occasionally find myself singing the lumberjack song, or chuckling about dead parrots. I was introduced to Fawlty Towers when it originally aired, and adored it-- so much so that we have the complete set (on VHS no less, and introduced our kids to it at a tender age.) What I liked about this book was some of the fill-in-the-gaps about John Cleese that occurred before, during, and around these productions (and A Fish Called Wanda). The beginning chapters about Cleese's boyhood and school days were particularly interesting to me. And while the latter part of the memoir has drawn criticism for running through various shows and projects, popping in bits of scripts here and there, I found it interesting, as I didn't know a lot of the British shows pre-Python, though the actors and personalities are known from other projects (David Frost, Peter Sellers, Marty Feldman etc.) Yes, there were times when I was less engaged than others, but there were enough delightful nuggets of information, and moments where Mr Cleese's ability as a writer of comedy caused me to laugh out loud, that I have come away happy. I hadn't realized how tightly kniy that group of writers and performers were or how far back they knew each other. 

Having introduced our grandkids to Dr Who and Firefly, I think it's time to add British comedy to the mix, starting with some John Cleese projects.

Thank you to Blogging for Books and to the publisher for sending a copy of this book my way.


1 comment:

  1. Cleese writes an engaging (semi-)autobiography, and I'm looking forward to the next in the series, when he will start to get into the parts of his work that are most familiar to me.

    The Python years were fun to live through, and I used to devour each album, film and episode as it came out. They were so refreshing and so funny.

    But a little silly, sometimes.

    Fawlty Towers is pretty much Cleese alone, Python-less. Albeit with a brilliant supporting cast and co-writer. For me, the attraction isn't so much Cleese's portrayal of a fascinating character as it is his exploration of the human condition in general. Basil Fawlty has a desire to be well-regarded, successful, an authority. But he goes about seeking these ends in precisely the wrong manner, and nothing reveals the sad state of his life better than his antics in bed with his on-screen wife.

    If I may put it like that.

    Hmmm. "Introducing the grandkids to British comedy." This sounds less like a noble attempt at cultural education and more like having a jolly good time with the youngsters.