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John Cleese          

British Comedic Actor, Screenwriter & Producer

An instigator of some of the more groundbreaking developments in twentieth-century comedy, John Cleese is one of Britain's best-known actors, writers and comedians. Famous primarily for his comic efforts, he has also become a well-respected actor in his own right and has co-written books on psychiatry entitled Families And How to Survive Them and Life And How to Survive It.

Cleese 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. Cleese stayed with Monty Python for three series; after he left, he reunited with his fellow Pythons for three movies. The first, Monty Python And The Holy Grail in 1974, with Life of Brian followed in 1979 and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life in 1983.

In addition to his work with the Pythons, Cleese, along with first wife Connie Booth, created the popular television series Fawlty Towers in 1975. It ran for a number of years, during which time Cleese also continued to make movies. Throughout the 1980s, he showed up in films ranging from The Great Muppet Caper (1981) to Silverado (1985). In 1988, Cleese struck gold with A Fish Called Wanda, which he wrote, produced and starred in. The film won both commercial and critical success, earning Cleese a British Academy Award and an Oscar nomination for his screenplay, and an Oscar for co-star Kevin Kline.

Cleese continued to work steadily through the 1990s, appearing in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), The Wind In The Willows (1997), George of the Jungle (1997), and the James bond film, The World is Not Enough (1999). Moving into the 21st century, Cleese toured through Europe and Canada with his stage show, John Cleese—His Life, Times and Current Medical Problems, and his comedy tour entitled John Cleese: Last Time to See Me Before I Die. Since 2013, Cleese has focused on voice acting, including voicing King Gristle in the movie Trolls.

In 1992, the UK Health Education Authority recruited Cleese, an ex-smoker, to star in a series of anti-smoking public service announcements (PSAs) on British television, which took the form of sketches rife with morbid humor about smoking and were designed to encourage adult smokers to quit.

John Cleese is also respected worldwide for his corporate training programs produced by Video Arts, a company he founded in London in 1972 with four associates from the BBC. Despite his diverse interests, one of his steadfast commitments has always been to business training. He attributes his success at making hit training programs to his fascination with psychology and his love for acting, teaching and making people laugh. "Humor in training increases retention and decreases anxiety", Cleese said. "If the training point is surrounded with humor, it can be readily digested, remembered and applied".

Speech Topics

The Importance of Creativity

Too often businesses are all about one thing: business. With an eye ruthlessly fixed on the bottom line, businesses sometimes neglect to remember that the human capacity for enjoyment and fun can make for much better business climates than those in which an eye is invariably fixed on margins, overhead and costs. John Cleese, one of the most influential comic writers and actors of the past 40 years, shows you how an element of creativity in the business world can reap untold dividends, from recruitment, training and retaining employees, to better and more enjoyable customer service, to helping businesses innovate and accommodate change.


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John Cleese is joining the ABC comedy "Speechless" in a guest starring role.
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John Cleese raised absurdity to new heights as part of "Monty Python's Flying Circus." The towering comedic legend talks to correspondent Tracy Smith about ...
Monty Python's John Cleese, Eric Idle Reunite In 'Together Again At ...
NPR's Robert Siegel talks to comedians John Cleese and Eric Idle of Monty Python about their new show, Together Again At Last...For The Very First Time, ...

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