Best known as a member of the famous comedy team Monty
Python's Flying Circus, Cleese closed out the Miami Book Fair
International on Sunday, where he presented his memoir, "So
Anyway ...," which recounts his journey from an awkward
childhood to early success in comedy.
Cleese, 75, was part of a genre of university-educated comedians
who took British audiences by storm in the 1970s with an
irreverent, zany style of humor.
He went on to make several movies, including "Life of Brian" and
"A Fish Called Wanda."
In "So, Anyway ...," he describes how being a lonely child who
did not fit in helped forge his career in comedy because he
learned the value of making people laugh.
Cleese, who also gives business speeches on the value of
creativity, railed against the incompetence of modern
In his talk, he cited the work of two Cornell University
professors who found that the worse people are at something the
less likely they are to know how bad they are at it.
"That explains about 80 per cent of life on this planet," said
Cleese, a visiting professor at Cornell. "The tragedy is not
that they don't know what they're are doing, but that they have
no idea that they don't know what they are doing, and that gives
Cleese joked that the third volume of his memoir would be titled
"Surrounded by Fools," or "Why there is no Hope."
Despite the failure of modern democracy, as he puts it, Cleese
told Reuters he is "the happiest I have ever been in my life,"
living in London with his wife and three cats.
With age has come the realization of the importance of comedy.
"Making people happy for an evening is a rather useful thing to
do in this world," he said. "I think I rather downplayed it in
His memoirs, the first of three parts, is dedicated to his
father and his latest wife. Writing the book was "the most fun I
have had in 10 years," he said.
The next volume will focus on his Python career and the TV
series "Fawlty Towers."
(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Lisa Von Ahn)
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