Wednesday, May 27, 2015

So Anyway

Just finished a autobiography, So Anyway by John Cleese.  I don't read a lot of autobiography's, but this one caught my eye.  I love pretty much every performance by John Cleese, Grew up on Monty Python and Fawlty Towers.  If it wasn't for Cleese, I would not be as addicted to BritComs like I am today.

The book takes us from when Cleese was 8 5/6 to just before he started on the Flying Circus.  How he believes frequent moves as a child helped develop his creativity, his (surprise surprise... not) issues with his mother, how he sort of accidentally fell into math and science in public school, sort of fell into a teaching job he was woefully unprepared for and had to study every night to stay one lesson ahead of his students, switched to law because he wasn't as obsessive as he needed to be to succeed in math and science. How he initially passed up the Cambridge club/group that led him to develop his comedic skills.  How he was set to start a career in law, but things just sort of fell into his lap to create his comedic genius career.

Even though I say things sort of fell into his lap, please don't mis-read that to mean he didn't work hard at it.  He was a perfectionist, who endlessly rewrote things, worked on understanding audiences and comedic timing.  Had to overcome performance jitters and stage anxiety.  It probably would have been less work and stress if he had settled into law.

The book covers his on and off relationship with future wife/ex-wife Connie.  It covers how he ended up with the other Pythons - but it sort of glosses over everyone except for Graham Chapman.  You do really get a sense of how an initial non-encounter ended up in the close friendship between the two - and especially in the last chapter you get a sense of how much he still misses him.  I did not realize that Cleese and co pretty much put Marty Feldman onto the screen for the first time.

I know this book got a lot of mixed reviews, but I loved it.  It was easy to read and it was like sitting down to a cup of tea and having Cleese tell you about that part of his life. 

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