Probably the best known of the Monty
Pythons Flying Circus crew, John Cleese has worked in comedy since the early
1960s. In this, what I hope is his first volume of an autobiography, we follow the
development of John Cleese from slightly bewildered and shy primary school child through
socially awkward teenager and youth to budding thespian and the initial rungs of success
following the launch of Monty Pythons Flying Circus.
Cleese grew up in and around Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, and attended a
steady progression of Public Schools before heading to Cambridge to pursue a law degree.
He obligingly provides several interesting anecdotes from his schoolboy days, as well from
his stint as a teacher at one of his former schools. The anecdotes and remembrances grow
stronger and longer with his days at Cambridge and his friendship and professional
relationship with Graham Chapman.
Cleese provides a broad insight into the forces, people, and circumstances
that allowed him to progress from a prospective career in law to a successful career in
comedy. He also explains the genesis of several well-known and much beloved Python
sketches, many of which had their genesis at Cambridge. He also gives his insights and
takes on the nature of comedy and how he believes his star characters, such as Basil
Fawlty, should be interpreted.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book as did the people I
lent it too. You will too.