Actor, Director, and Author
An instigator of some of the more groundbreaking developments in twentieth-century comedy, John Cleese is one of Britain's best-known actors, writers and comedians. Famous primarily for his comic efforts, such as the television series Fawlty Towers and the exploits of the Monty Python troupe, he has also become a well-respected actor in his own right and has co-written books on psychiatry entitled Families And How to Survive Them and Life And How to Survive It. Cleese grew up in the middle-class seaside resort town of Weston-super-Mare and enrolled at Cambridge University with the intention of studying law but soon discovered that his comic leanings held greater sway than his interest in the law. He joined the celebrated Cambridge Footlights Society - he was initially rejected because he could neither sing nor dance - but was accepted after collaborating with a friend on some comedy sketches. He gained a reputation as a team player and met future writing partner and Python Graham Chapman.
Cleese entered professional comedy with a writing stint on David Frost's The Frost Report in 1966. While working for that BBC show, Cleese and Chapman met fellow Frost Report writers Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. They were soon collaborating on what would become Monty Python's Flying Circus with Terry Gilliam. The show, which first aired in 1969, was an iconoclastic look at British society: its genius lay in its seemingly random, bizarre take on the mundane facets of everyday life, from Spam to pet shops to the simple act of walking. Cleese stayed with Monty Python for three series; after he left, he reunited with his fellow Pythons for three movies. The first, Monty Python And The Holy Grail (1974), was a revisionist take on the Arthurian legend that featured Cleese as the Black Knight, who refuses to end his duel with King Arthur even after losing his arms and legs. Life of Brian followed in 1979; a look at one of history's lesser-known messiahs, it featured lepers, space aliens, and condemned martyrs singing a rousing version of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" while hanging from their crucifixes. The Pythons' third outing, the 1983 Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, was a series of increasingly outrageous vignettes, including one about the explosion of a stupendously obese man and another featuring a dinner party with Death.
In addition to his work with the Pythons, Cleese, along with first wife Connie Booth, created the popular television series Fawlty Towers in 1975. It ran for a number of years, during which time Cleese also continued to make movies. Throughout the 1980s, he showed up in films ranging from The Great Muppet Caper (1981) to Silverado (1985), which cast him as an Old West villain. In 1988, Cleese struck gold with A Fish Called Wanda, which he wrote, produced and starred in. An intoxicating farce, the film won both commercial and critical success, earning Cleese a British Academy Award and an Oscar nomination for his screenplay, and an Oscar for co-star Kevin Kline. Cleese continued to work steadily through the 1990s, appearing in Splitting Heirs (1993), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), The Wind In The Willows (1997) and George of the Jungle (1997). Fierce Creatures, his 1997 sequel to A Fish Called Wanda, proved to be rather a disappointment, but Cleese maintains his visibility, reuniting with the surviving Pythons on occasion and starring in The Out Of Towners, Will and Grace and The World is Not Enough. John Cleese is also respected worldwide for his corporate training programs produced by Video Arts, a company he founded in London in 1972 with four associates from the BBC. Despite his diverse interests, one of his steadfast commitments has always been to business training. He attributes his success at making hit training programs to his fascination with psychology and his love for acting, teaching and making people laugh. "Humor in training increases retention and decreases anxiety", Cleese said. "If the training point is surrounded with humor, it can be readily digested, remembered and applied".
Monty Python star John Cleese finds that living abroad is no laughing matter
When John Cleese and his fourth wife, Jennifer Wade, suddenly left their home in Monaco earlier this year and held an online fire sale of the furniture and artworks left behind, it created much speculation. Now, the Monty Python star, 73, and the ...
British funnyman John Cleese adds second Calgary show - Calgary Herald
British funnyman John Cleese's has added a second Calgary stop to his cross-Canada tour — titled, John Cleese: Last Time To See Me Before I Die — booking dates at the Jack Singer Concert Hall on Oct. 19 and Oct. 20.. Click here for some classic John ...
Monty Python legend John Cleese coming to Vancouver
The 40-year comedy veteran is scheduled to complete his first-ever cross-Canada comedy tour, called the John Cleese: Last Time To See Me Before I Die tour, beginning in Halifax September 13 and wrapping up in Vancouver at The Vogue Theatre October ...
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