21 Interesting quotes by John Cleese to inspire you

Quotes by John Cleese

Image Credit: Brocco (Madriz, Spain)

As he is one of the greatest talents in British comedy, I thought it would be interesting to explore some of the many quotes by John Cleese.

John Marwood Cleese is an English actor, comedian, screenwriter, and producer.

Educated at the University of Cambridge, he emerged from the Cambridge Footlights in the 1960s and he first achieved success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

He also collaborated with David Frost and was a scriptwriter and performer on The Frost Report.

However, he is probably best known for his association with two classics of British comedy, namely Monty Python and Fawlty Towers, for both of which he was both a writer and performer.

He was also a co-founder of the production company Video Arts, famous for making entertaining and memorable training films. Many readers will have seen these training films over the years, I’m sure.

By any measure, John Cleese is a successful man and, as I always say, it’s always worth listening to successful people.

So, here are 21 quotes by John Cleese that I hope you’ll find interesting. Certainly, I did.

Quotes by John Cleese (1-10):

  1. He who laughs most learns best.
  2. Don’t let anyone tell you what you ought to like.
  3. Comedy always works best when it is mean-spirited.
  4. A man will give up almost anything except his suffering.
  5. The most creative people have this childlike facility to play.
  6. Who’s ever going to write a film in which I get the girl? Me!
  7. I have several times made a poor choice by avoiding a necessary confrontation.
  8. The really good idea is always traceable back quite a long way, often to a not-very-good idea which sparked off another idea that was only slightly better, which somebody else misunderstood in such a way that they then said something which was really rather interesting.
  9. Now, most people do not want an ordinary life in which they do a job well, earn the respect of their collaborators and competitors, bring up a family and have friends. That’s not enough anymore, and I think that is absolutely tragic, and I’m not exaggerating, that people feel like a decent, ordinary, fun life is no longer enough.
  10. I think you can write very good comedy without a partner, but what I love about it, working with a partner, is that you get to places you’d never get on your own. It’s like when God was designing the world and decided we couldn’t have children without a partner; it was a way of mixing up the genes so you’d get a more interesting product.

Quotes by John Cleese (11-21):

  1. If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play.
  2. Well, the only way I can get a leading-man role is if I write it.
  3. You don’t have to be the Dalai Lama to tell people that life is about change.
  4. I think that money spoils most things once it becomes the primary motivating force.
  5. A wonderful thing about true laughter is that it just destroys any kind of system of dividing people.
  6. I used to desire many, many things, but now I have just one desire, and that’s to get rid of all my other desires.
  7. Most of the bad taste I’ve been accused of has been generic bad taste; it’s been making fun of an idea as opposed to a person.
  8. I love having different cultures around, but when the parent culture kind of dissipates, you’re left thinking, ‘Well, what’s going on?’
  9. When you’ve been doing comedy for forty years, you really do know most of the jokes. And even if you don’t know a specific joke, you can pretty much guess what it’s going to be.
  10. If I can get you to laugh with me, you like me better, which makes you more open to my ideas. And if I can persuade you to laugh at the particular point I make, by laughing at it you acknowledge its truth.
  11. I think it’s because in America you always get the sense that if you fail, you can just pack up your things and go somewhere else and try again. But in England, it’s so geographically small that if somebody succeeds here, it reduces your chances of succeeding.

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