John Cleese: Fawlty Farceur

Today is the birthday of John Cleese (b. 1939). I made up for a great defficiency in my education a few months ago by watching Fawlty Towers in its entirety. I won’t be adding anything new to world critical opinion by declaring it one of the great comedy shows of all time. What interested me most about it was the obvious influence of French farce on the writing and performance in the show. I tried to figure out a way to incorporate this fact into my book Chain of Fools (as French farce was also a major influence on Mack Sennett), and I wanted to get more England into the contemporary chapters, but it proved to be too much of a digression, straying away from my main thread. But the connection deserves to be noted — and Cleese’s almost terrifying brilliance, both as a comic scenarist and as a physical performer, from his Monty Python days on, deserves to be celebrated.

John Cleese, Fawlty Towers, Second String

And now one of the most memorable and notorious scenes from Fawlty Towers, in which Basil compulsively can’t refrain from bringing up World War Two as he attempts to serve a group of German tourists:

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.