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John Cleese

Globally acclaimed actor, writer and comedian

John Cleese Biography

Often named the funniest man alive, John Cleese is both a versatile comedic actor and a leading business motivator. He went from being “the tall one” on Monty Python’s Flying Circus to being a ubiquitous presence in films, television and advertising.

As a speaker, John helps businesses understand the importance of creativity and its direct relationship to all aspects of the corporate spectrum. He shares with audiences his comprehensive and specific messages on how to create the conditions in which one’s creativity can best flourish.

An instigator of some of the more groundbreaking developments in twentieth-century comedy, John has also become a well-respected author in his own right and has co-written such books as Families And How to Survive Them and Life And How to Survive It. He has also written and released his memoir, So Anyway….

John 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. He joined the celebrated Cambridge Footlights Society – and was initially rejected because he could neither sing nor dance – but was accepted after collaborating with a friend on some comedy sketches. Cleese soon gained a reputation as a team player and met future writing partner and Python Graham Chapman.

He 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.

John stayed with Monty Python for three seasons; 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 John 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.

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Achieving Goals

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Books by John Cleese

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John Cleese book
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