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  • gilwilson 6:46 PM on August 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: a fish called wanda, autobiography, , , ,   

    “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

  • gilwilson 6:57 PM on May 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , autobiography, barry letts, , , , jon pertwee, , , terrance dicks, tom baker   

    “Who and Me” Written and Read by Barry Letts 

    “Who and Me”
    Written and Read by Barry Letts
    Published by AudioGo
    3 hours an 15 minutes.

    As you have learned by now, if you keep up with all my postings, I’m a Doctor Who fan.  Actually, I’m a huge Doctor Who fan.  I was wary of the new Doctor Who series (launched in 2005) but after giving it a chance was a fan again and this time with more gusto.  I do have my favorite Doctors; Tom Baker and David Tennant with Matt Smith Growing on me.  Nothing at all against the other Doctors, I just have my favorites, as does just about every Doctor Who fan I know.

    I got the chance to listen to this audiobook that promises some behind the scenes looks at the series and I pretty much jumped on it.   Barry Letts, the author of this memoir was the producer of Doctor How from 1970 to 1974 and executive producer in 1980.  He was present for  the change between Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker Doctors and also worked for the BBC as anctor, and directer before landing the Doctor Who Gig.  This book is the first volume of memoirs from Letts and with him doing the reading as well, it’s as though you have the chance to sit down with your grandfather and hear about the days of old.  That is if your grandfather was a producer for the BBC and had to deal with actors and budget limits in order to kee a television series running.  His voice is very pleasant to hear and when telling the tales you can tell whether it was rough times or smooth sailing, he looked back on these years fondly.

    One of the things that cemented my wanting to hear this audiobook was while is was recently re-watching the Doctor Who Special from 2009, “The Waters of Mars,” the show was dedicated to Letts, having aired just after his death in 2009.  So I knew that I had to listen.  Synchronicity was pointing the direction I needed to steer toward.

    It’s funny, I was never a huge fan of the Jon Pertwee portrayal of the Doctor, my opinion was Pertwee was a bit stuffy, but with the stories told here I can see he was a bit fun and that he often edited his own story with Jon coming out on top.  Letts tells the stories that don’t seem to match up with some of Pertwee’s tellings but Letts says, why let the truth get in the way of a good story, right?

    “Who and Me” recounts the journey he took from struggling actor to successful producer, and the ups and downs of working on ‘Doctor Who’ during the Jon Pertwee years. Along the way he describes the personalities he worked with during that time, from his script editor Terrance Dicks and the stars of the series to the senior management, of the BBC with whom he had encounters some good and some bad.

    Letts tells the stories of budgets, learning the ways of live television and then relearning how to film for pre-recorded episodes of Doctor Who.  It was all a learning process and after hearing these memoirs from Barry Letts it sounded like a fun process.

    • Aidan 11:48 PM on May 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the review – I have been thinking about getting this for a while but haven’t got around to it. This has pushed me towards finally going out and getting it.


  • gilwilson 10:16 PM on March 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , autobiography, , , chasing amy, clerks, , , internet, jay and silent bob, , miramax, , , , silent bob   

    “Tough Sh*t; Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good” by Kevin Smith 

    “Tough Sh*t; Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good”
    Written and Read by Kevin Smith
    Published by Penguin Audio (2012)
    Approx. 6 hours.

    First and foremost I have to admit I am a Kevin Smith Fanboy, but even more so now. Although I don’t think I can call myself a full-fledged Fanboy since I don’t listen to his Smodcasts. I’ll explain Smodcasts later. I really should listen to them, but I listen to so many audiobooks that I have a hard time finding a place to squeeze them in. Okay, okay, I will start listening…one smodcast between each book, fine, are you happy, Mr. Smith?

    Anyway, back to this book, Kevin Smith, to many folks is that “Clerks” guy, or maybe the “Chasing Amy” guy, or maybe “the Too Fat to Fly” guy, or more recently the “Comic Book Men” Guy. No matter what your association with Kevin Smith you know it’s a lot of humor, usually self-deprecating, and even some bouts of reality thrown in at a super-sized delivery box. (sorry could help the fat joke, but being a fat lazy slob as well, I can do that.) Kevin Smith was king of the indie films (and still is in my book) during the 90s, beginning with the movie “Clerks,” a tale of two slackers hanging out at a convenience store and their obsessions with pop culture (particularly Star Wars). Okay actually it was a lot more than just that but I’m not reviewing that movie at this moment. Smith, had the dream to become a filmmaker and sought out that dream. Soon his movie was sold to Miramax and the entire Jay and Silent Bob run of movies began. Jay and Silent Bob seemed to be anchors in all his movies, with Silent Bob being played by Kevin Smith.

    During his filmmaking career, Smith created a whole new genre of films that would soon be copied and become a staple in summer movies, the Bromance. Kevin’s films showed that men can interact with each other and that the movie can exist entirely on the basis of a friendship between two guys. With “Clerks” & “Clerks 2” there was Dante & Hicks and in an odd way, Jay & Silent Bob. The Bromance film would later be copied in such films as “Good Will Hunting” (no he didn’t help write that one, which he talks about that controversy in this book), “The 40 Year old Virgin,” “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express.” the last three you’ll notice were Seth Rogen films, he comes up in this autobiography a few times.

    So making Indie films was the beginning and soon Kevin was sucked into the corporate world of Hollywood. At one point he got to meet his big screen idol, Bruce Willis. While working with Bruce he found him to be a decent guy, but when Kevin was called on to direct Willis, Smith found out that Bruce was a “douchebag” (his word not mine, I don’t know Bruce Willis, but I, like Kevin Smith, am a fan of his work). This one of the many events Smith talks about in “Tough Sh*t” that begins to make his passion of filmmaking actually work, and begins his journey to seek out something else to keep his mind creative.

    On a good note, Kevin Smith says that the line “You should never meet your heroes.” should be changed to “You should never meet your heroes, unless the hero is George Carlin.” Kevin Smith grew up appreciating and loving Carlin’s ability to talk smart, using the English language in a very intelligent way while still sprinkling in some colorful expletives to grab the attention of the audience. When he met with Carlin he discovered that Carlin was the genuine article, and a down to earth Human being. All of these stories are included in “Tough Sh*t” and more.

    The biggest lessons Kevin learned and shares with the listener/reader of “Tough Sh*t” are from “The Great One,” Wayne Gretzky. Kevin watched a series on hockey and learned from “The Great One” two major lessons: Gretzky was great because of assists not just because of the high number of goals scored and don’t be where the puck has been be where the puck is going to be. Throughout this book Kevin talks about how he has applied these lessons to his life.

    This peek into the world of Kevin Smith screams with subtlety, what makes the man Kevin Smith. From his respect for his dad who died screaming to his beautiful wife and daughter, Smith turns out to be a pretty darn decent human being. He’s the type of guy that if he were your friend, you’d have a friend for life. Kevin Smith is able to tell his story in the fashion of his hero, George Carlin. Speaking intelligently and with lots of wit and a sprinkling of what could be “offensive” language. From stories of helping his friends to adoring his wife, I feel after reading this book I know the man personally. I wish…but for now I’m happy being a Kevin Smith Fanboy.

    • rwhyan 11:27 PM on March 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I’m not a huge fan of Smiths films (I did like Red State) but I am a big fan of him as a person and I regularly listen to his smodcast and it’s absolutely hilarious. Great post.


    • Laura Ashlee 10:11 PM on March 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      This books made me laugh so much. I would never call myself a Kevin Smith fan. I’ve been more of a Kevin Smith appreciator. Anytime I saw something by him or with him in it, I always enjoyed it, but I never went out seeking his stuff. It was really nice to get in his head though. He’s one smart guy.


      • gilwilson 10:53 AM on March 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        I think the what I liked most is that just as he was almost swept up in the corporate biz of Hollywood, he went back to his indie roots keeping his sense of humor and individuality.


  • gilwilson 10:19 PM on August 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: autobiography, , , , , , james fox, joe hurley, , keith richards, , , ,   

    “Life” by Keith Richards & James Fox 

    by Keith Richards & James Fox
    Read by Johnny Depp, Joe Hurley & Keith Richards
    Produced by Hachette Audio (2010)
    Approx 24 hours.

    I think I may have read one of the most intriguing and entertaining autobiographies ever.  “Life,” the story of Keith Richards and his life in and out of the Rolling Stones.  The Stones were/are one of the world’s biggest bands and the stuff of rock and roll legend.  I never was a big fan of the Stones before, but after listening to this audio book I am now.  Working in radio I have played a few of their tunes and even had a couple of favorites, but I guess I never really gave them a chance.

    What has made me a fan most of all is something I found extremely surprising in this audiobook, the easy flow of the story beginning with Keith Richards’ early life and just rolling along through his life, warts and all.  Also the idea presented that Richards’ is a pretty laid back guy.  He had his ups and downs with drug addiction, which he discusses through this book, but the amazing thing is that he didn’t really have anything bad to say about anybody.  Most celebrity biographies/autobiographies, the celeb has a beef with someone or several someones.  Or there is an expose feel to a biography which has a purpose of poking at wounds.  Keith did have conflicts with people, such as Brian Jones and later with Mick Jagger and a few in between, but each time Keith presented it by always taking the blame for some of the turmoil.  He never blamed and there was no fingerpointing and there was no beef with anyone that he had to get out.  Keith simply told his story and left it at that.

    Many times throughout the book Keith turns the storytelling over to other people due to them having a different perspective, some of the other people are Marlon (his son), Bobby Keys, and just about anyone else involved in his life.

    In this book all the myths are exposed, such as did Keith get his “blood changed” to break his heroin addiction? did he really snort his father’s ashes? Was it a palm tree he fell from?  All this and more including the loves of his life.  Other than music Keith loved a few women, from Ronnie Spector to Anita Pallenberg, they’re all special and from the words he uses the reader/listener can tell he loved them deeply.

    Throughout the book Richards, of course, discusses his love of music.  From the discovery of American Blues to Island music, he incorporates it all into the music that becomes the most timeless music of all time, Rolling Stones music.  How some of the songs were written and recorded can be surprising and yet once you go back and hear the tunes it makes sense.

    The audiobook is also a bit of a Keith Richards sandwich, with Keith providing the intro and the final chapters’ narration of the book.  Johnny Depp reads for Keith’s early years, and musician Joe Hurley reads for the better part of the 70s section and Johnny Depp taking over again for the 80s and beyond.   Depp, who based his Jack Sparrow pirate character on Richards, does an awesome job reading as Richards, but Joe Hurley makes the middle section fun doing a great “slight” impersonation of Richards and the others whose voices are required.  As far as biographies go this is the best read one I’ve ever heard.

    With the book being around 24 hours of listening time, I was a bit wary of the task, but once the book started I was hooked and just couldn’t let go.  Great bit of rock and roll history with some inside stories that make the trip more fun.

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