So anyway….here’s my review of “So Anyway…”
If you don’t know who John Cleese is, just stop reading here. Also know that we will never be friends in real life. So Anyway (haha), going on the assumption that you know who he is if you are continuing to read, I will not explain here. “So Anyway” is the meandering autobiography, full of diversions and philosophical wanderings, of John Cleese as he goes from a young boy in Weston supra Mare, England, to being, well, being John Cleese. The story ends at the Python days, with a bit of Python follow up.
As someone who fancies herself a humor writer, this book had a lot of great information in it. Cleese is a thoughtful, intelligent person. (He went to Oxford and trained to be a lawyer.) He studied comedy and writing as diligently as one would expect a good student to do and explains what he learned and how he learned it. He has, so it seems, always considered himself a writer rather than a performer – the performing came mainly because someone needed to perform what he had written. So this book is far superior to most celebrity autobiographies. His personality and humor shines through. There were times when I had to put the book down I was laughing so hard. And there are also times when I had to put the book down because I wanted to think for a minute about what he had said.
Although his talent is undeniable, much of his success seems to have come from the luck of being at the right place at the right time. He never had to seek work – his friends offered it to him. Because he knew people (largely from college) the first three screenplays he wrote actually got made into movies. He never set out to be what he became, it just sort of happened.
Like the best autobiographies, it isn’t a whitewashed account of events. Cleese is not afraid to make himself look awkward and foolish, and seems fully aware of the spate of good luck that took him on his journey. Fans of Monty Python will love hearing stories about the origins of their favorite sketches and reading about the writing process. (The goat vs. sheep argument made me cry I laughed so hard.)
For more information, click the handy-dandy Amazon link below.