John Marwood Cleese
Promotional image (in use 2011)
Born: 27 October 1939, Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset, England, UK
Cleese has that surname because his father, Reginald Francis Cheese, switched one letter when he enlisted in the Army in 1915. Cleese attended St Peter's Preparatory School where he did well in sports as well as academics, at 13 he went to Clifton College at Bristol where he passed three A-Levels (Math, Physics, Chemistry). He returned to St Peter's as a teacher before entering Downing College, Cambridge where he studied law and joined the Cambridge Footlights Revue, along with another future Python, Graham Chapman. He worked as a writer and comedian rather than practice law, working for BBC Radio and joining the staff of The Frost Report in 1965. David Frost's staff was rich with talent that would go on to separate success, including three more future Pythons: Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Monty Python's Flying Circus appeared on BBC Television for four seasons (October 1969 to December 1974), Cleese was a prominent part of the first three seasons. From 1970 to 1973 Cleese served as rector of the University of St Andrews, the oldest university in Scotland, and notably reanimated student participation in campus governance. He co-wrote Fawlty Towers with his first wife, starring as Basil Fawlty, the epitome of poor customer service, modeled after an actual hotelier that had once hosted Monty Python. (The widow of that worthy claims he was misrepresented in the series.) In 1988 he wrote and starred in A Fish Called Wanda and it's sequel Fierce Creatures, the latter being one of only two things he claims he wouldn't repeat if he had his life to live over again. (The other is marry his third wife.) Cleese has appeared in two James Bond films and two Harry Potter films, along with a Pink Panther movie and a host of other acting, voice-only parts, and live appearances. He's the man who made "And now for something completely different" a gag and put 44 kinds of cheese into one five-minute sketch.
Additional quotes from Wikiquote. Wikiquote entries are "sourced" and may include items longer than those included here, particularly for poets, lyricists, and dramatists.
John Cleese quotes:
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- A man will give up almost anything except his suffering. permalink
- Basil Fawlty was an easy character for me. For some reason, portraying a mean uptight incompetent bully comes naturally to me. permalink
- But then acting is all about faking. We're all very good at faking things that we have no competence with. permalink
- Comedy always works best when it is mean-spirited. permalink
- Don't let anyone tell you what you ought to like.... Some wines that some experts think are absolutely exquisite don't appeal to me at all. permalink
- Filming is like a long air journey: there's so much hanging around and boredom that they keep giving you food. permalink
- For me, the great problem growing up in England was that I had a very narrow concept of what God can be, and it was damned close to an old man with a beard. permalink
- God was treated like this powerful, erratic, rather punitive father who has to be pacified and praised. You know, flattered. permalink
- He who laughs most, learns best. permalink
- I can never do better than Fawlty Towers whatever I do. Now I very much want to teach young talent some rules of the game. permalink
- I can't tell you how scary it can be walking onto a movie and suddenly joining this family, it's like going to somebody else's Christmas dinner, everyone knows everyone, and you're there and you're not quite sure what you're supposed to be doing. permalink
- I don't think anyone should be educated sexually. There's far too many people on the planet. If we could hush it up for a few years, that would help. permalink
- I don't want to have to start being unselfish again. The great thing about being on your own is you do what you damned well like. permalink
- I find it rather easy to portray a businessman. Being bland, rather cruel, and incompetent comes naturally to me. permalink
Newsweek (15 June 1997)
- I have decided that when we get to 85 it'll be 'To hell with it'. It's going to be drugs, orgies and a lot of cream. permalink
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