Cleese Encounters

Jonathan Margolis, Author
Jonathan Margolis, Author St. Martin's Press $19.95 (286p) ISBN 978-0-312-08162-1
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
Paperback - 978-0-312-09769-1
Hardcover - 380 pages - 978-0-7528-1693-7
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British journalist Margolis, undeterred by his subject's opposition to this biography, produces an edifying, entertaining portrait of internationally-known comedian John Cleese. Member of the Monty Python troupe, creator and star of the BBC comedy series Fawlty Towers , writer and star of the notable film A Fish Called Wanda, the towering (nearly 65) Cleese delights in mocking stuffy British authority figures. Here, we follow the development of his subversive wit during his quiet, cricket-playing adolescence to his more extroverted years at Cambridge University; although urged by parents and teachers to be a schoolmaster or barrister, Cleese preferred to target such professions with his comedy. We take a behind-the-scenes look at Monty Python's bickering members, meet Cleese's ex-wives and companions, learn of the comedian's positive views of his psychotherapy. Although Margolis must sometimes backtrack as he speeds through his roughly chronological narrative, he describes memorable comic turns--Cleese's silly walks, for example--admirably. Anecdotes, thoughtful observations and quotes collected from Cleese's acquaintances, friends and published statements make this an altogether enjoyable account. Photos. (Oct.)
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