Ever since I was a little kid I’ve loved Monty Python, particularly the Holy Grail movie. So, whenever I’ve seen a clip or full interview with John Cleese I’ve always listened up. He’s funny, articulate, deliberate in his speech and effortlessly witty. When I saw he had an autobiography that he narrated I jumped on it immediately.
The narration to this book was *on point*, I laughed through the whole book, he really perfomed the book rather than just reading it outloud.
I learned a TON about this guy, and he’s unbelievably endearing. He talked about his childhood and it was just so… mature how he looked at his mother who was extremely difficult to live with because of SEVERE anxiety issues. I suffer from depression and anxiety as well, but this woman is off the charts with the sheer amount of things she’s scared of – he even makes a lengthy and humorous list of things she was frightened of that included things like vaccuums not being used by her, and hairdryers. What I found SO sweet, was after his father died, he would go to her house and go over a list of things that were worrying her and address them one by one helping her get over her anxiety. This guy is just so classy. He was really able to take a step back and see why she was the way she was, and see the good that lied underneath a rather turbulent exterior – she did not make his life easy and because of how strained their relationship was growing up he had a problem with women for decades, being unsure of himself and walking on egg shells around them.
I also learned a bunch about British culture and history, which I don’t know a ton about.
Cleese was apparently an elementary school teacher and prided himself on being fair. He would make his kids re-write words they spelled wrong to make sure that they got it right the next time, one time, he spelled something wrong himself and spelled it 100 times up on the blackboard in an effort of ‘fairness’.
His father was goofy as fuck, and it’s no wonder he ended up the way he was. One time his father took some chickens that were about to be slaughtered, they were half plucked, and he let them loose in a courtyard orchestra where the British elite gentleman/ladies were having a picnic outside listening to cultured music. He also got himself kicked out permanently from some hotels in India. Fun fact: Johns father hated his last name so much he changed it from Cheese to Cleese!
I learned a bit about the bombing of Britain during WW2, his fathers stories about WW1 and the horrors he witnessed.
This book was fascinating, well written, and superbly performed. It was also surprisingly lengthy, the audiobook was 15-16 hours IIRC but I wouldn’t have edited anything out, all of it was worth the listen.
I gave it 5/5 stars on goodreads, and I was really surprised that on goodreads it only has a 3.7 rating. I was curious and looked through the detractors complaints, and most of it is political. Cleese rips on Trump a few times, and makes it known he has some more liberal points of view, and that didn’t go over well with people.