“So, Anyway…” by John Cleese

This autobiography was recommended to me by someone who is much better informed about comedy than I am! But we agree that John Cleese is one of the funniest people on the planet. His “Fawlty Towers” TV series was the best British humor I ever watched, and “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” is a classic film.

Cleese begins with some family history, then describes the various stages of his education. His family wanted him to move UP in the British class system, and undertook this by sending him to the best schools they could arrange. Ultimately, he went to Cambridge and studied law. To me, this was the most interesting part of the book. Oxbridge (as Cambridge and Oxford are called) is the pinnacle of the British educational system.

I’m fascinated by accounts of how young adults grow and learn. Cleese studied law but never practiced it, moving into comedy and comedy writing before he really finished his studies.

Cleese was part of the explosion of British satire that rocked the 1960s. Before that time, evidently NO ONE  mocked the English establishment. See my review of the autobiography of Tony Hendra (a friend of Cleese) in this blog dated January 21, 2014 (“Father Joe, the man who saved my soul”). Hendra’s life was changed by the inspired satire that Cambridge generated.

Cleese has a lively, informal style of writing and is fun to read. I hope he writes more, as he didn’t say much about “Fawlty Towers” and his movie making experiences.

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