The “Silly Walk off a Cliff” cover that appeared on the July 4 issue of the New Yorker following Britain’s Brexit vote reminded me that it was high time I got to John Cleese’s autobiography So, Anyway... Cleese writes in a winning, self-effacing way about the first half of his life: his parents, his childhood, his schooling, and his early career as a stage performer, up until the formation of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Like any Englishman of his generation, he’s acutely sensitive to class. Where George Orwell once described himself as belonging to the lower-upper-middle class, Cleese indicates that his own background is “upper-upper-lower-middle class.”

Cleese is as funny on the page as he is, say, in the role of Basil Fawlty, the irascible hotel keeper of the BBC series Fawlty Towers. I laughed aloud more than once. As a P.G. Wodehouse fan, I delighted in an anecdote about one of Wodehouse’s brothers, whom Cleese’s father met in India. Besides displaying incredible sexual naivety, this Wodehouse was without a sense of humor. As a rule, Cleese speaks generously of others, such as the comedian Peter Sellers, whom he much admired. But he can’t resist taking a swipe at the late Graham Chapman, his fellow Python, who, evidently jealous of Cleese’s talent, could be petty and mean. Cleese denies that he was shocked, as Chapman claimed, when his long-time friend came out as gay, though he admits that “I was very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very surprised.”

Toward the end, he gives a wonderful catalogue of the demands one must put up with on becoming a celebrity. I hope Cleese is currently hard at work on a sequel that will cover the second half of his life.