“So, Anyway…” By John Cleese

33032675“So, Anyway…”
By John Cleese
Narrated by: John Cleese
Length: 13 hrs and 32 mins
Release date: 12-13-16
Publisher: Random House Audio

So, Anyway, yeah I had to start the review out that way.  So, anyway, I’m a huge fan of John Cleese and all of the Monty Python Alum.  I remember watching “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” every weekend on my local PBS station as a kid.  I would just laugh and laugh until my sides hurt.  The funny thing was that everyone else in my family would say they couldn’t understand them through their accents.  I would always ask, “how can you not? They are speaking English.”  It frustrated me to no end that a bunch of hillbillies from Oklahoma couldn’t get the humor because they couldn’t understand the language.  Eventually I trained them and after some time they could finally get “The Parrot Sketch.” Then when I introduced them to the series, “The Goodies,” they were able to follow the humor along with me.

So, Anyway, John Cleese’s autobiography is a must for any Python fan.  Cleese not only tells of his upbringing, his education (he studied law and wanted to originally become a lawyer, or Great Britain’s version of same) and his brief career teaching.  This part of the book is interesting but not nearly as entertaining as when he finally starts talking about his career in entertainment.  For me the fun part was hearing all the great talent he had worked with, Marty Feldman, David Frost, Peter Sellers, et. al.  Creating several sketch comedy shows with this talent helped him to mold what was to become a world wide phenomenon of Python.  Through the early years he had worked with Tim Brooke Taylor (who later went on to write for and act in the series, “The Goodies”).

With this audiobook, not only do you get the treat of Cleese talking about his own life and making comments on same, but he also includes clips of some of the sketches from the various programs he wrote and performed on.   It was funny to hear him and Marty Feldman actually perform a sketch rather than just read the script.  Comedy depends 100% on delivery.  For anyone who has seen the movie, “Rain Man,” that truth comes out when Raymond can recite the Abbott & Costello bit “Who’s on First.”  It’s not funny when he recites it but seeing/hearing it performed it takes on a whole new life.  Besides that it was just a treat to hear the original sketches.

Yeah, you’ll have to trudge through the boring parts of John Cleese growing up, but that is part of the big picture which gives us the gift behind the talent of John Cleese.

 

Publisher’s Summary
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 listeners 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.

©2016 John Cleese (P)2016 Random House Audio

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