And now for something completely different…
Monty Python fans the world over should be singing of dead parrots and spam today as they celebrate John Cleese’s announcement that the long-awaited story of his life shall be published in October. The title of the book is So Anyway, and the 74-year-old comedian has mentioned many of his wacky antics while in the company of Graham Chapmin in its pages.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Monty Python they were a group of British Comedians who produced Monty Python’s Flying Circus from October of 1969 to December of 1974 on BBC Television, though Cleese quit the show after the third season. Cleese’s primary characterizations during that time were as a sophisticated gentleman and a stressed-out loony. My personal favorite was his skit about a dead Norwegian Blue parrot who had been nailed on to his perch so he wouldn’t fall off.
Some of you may be unaware that the phrase he often used during announcements on the show, “and now for something completely different”, was actually first said by Eric Idle to introduce “Man with Three Buttocks”.
Cleese says that he and Chapman used to write together in the same room. Typically John would sit with pen and paper to do most of the work while Graham sat quietly for long periods of time, then suddenly coming out with an idea. Cleese left the show because he couldn’t deal with Chapman’s alcoholism, but he did not sever his ties.
Over the years he rejoined the wacky troupe for the Monty Python movies, Holy Grail, Life of Brian, and The Meaning of Life. He also participated in many live performances over the years.
He moved onward in his career over the years, lending his talents to Fawlty Towers, Time Bandits, A Fish Called Wanda, Clockwise, and others. Cleese and the other Pythons were much saddened by the loss of Graham Chapman to throat cancer in 1989, one day before the 20th anniversary of the first broadcast of Flying Circus.
At one point he even played a role in a James Bond film, though he did not return to reprise his character, Q, in the sequel. As mentioned in this Inquisitr article, he felt the British humor had been sacrificed to please the Asian market.
He later played in a follow-up to A Fish Called Wanda in a movie titled Fierce Creatures, which was released in 1996, and was met with a mixed reception, and which Cleese considers to have been a mistake.
In this century John is known for his role as an eccentric hotel owner in Rat Race, his role as Lyle Finster in the U.S. sitcom Will and Grace, voice-overs in a few cartoons and computer games, and writing books such as the one upcoming. Most recently he’s been on a comedy tour through Canada.
And, in his off hours, apparently writing unimportant letters to his unimportant fans.