Creativity, John Cleese style

The art and magic of being creative.

I can’t recall who it was that mentioned this TED video which is a great shame as I really should pay credit to a wonderful examination of the business of being creative.

“Telling people how to be creative is easy – being creative is difficult.” John Marwood Cleese (born 27 October 1939) is an English actor, comedian, writer and film producer. He achieved success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and as a scriptwriter and performer on The Frost Report.

In the late 1960s he became a member of Monty Python, the comedy troupe responsible for the sketch show Monty Python’s Flying Circus and the four Monty Python films: And Now for Something Completely Different, The Holy Grail, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. In the mid 1970s, Cleese and his first wife, Connie Booth, co-wrote and starred in the British sitcom Fawlty Towers. Later, he co-starred with Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis and former Python colleague Michael Palin in A Fish Called Wanda and Fierce Creatures.

He also starred in Clockwise, and has appeared in many other films, including two James Bond films as Q, two Harry Potter films, and three Shrek films. With Yes Minister writer Antony Jay he co-founded Video Arts, a production company making entertaining training films. It was founded in 1972 by John Cleese, Sir Antony Jay, and a group of other television professionals. The videos feature well known British actors, and humorously explain business concepts. Productions include Meetings, Bloody Meetings and More Bloody Meetings, and have featured Cleese, Dawn French, Prunella Scales, Hugh Laurie, and Robert Hardy.

In December 1977, Cleese appeared as a guest star on The Muppet Show. Cleese was a fan of the show, and co-wrote much of the episode. He appears in a “Pigs in Space” segment as a pirate trying to hijack the spaceship Swinetrek, and also helps Gonzo restore his arms to “normal” size after Gonzo’s cannonball catching act goes wrong. During the show’s closing number, Cleese refuses to sing the famous show tune from Man of La Mancha, “The Impossible Dream”. Kermit the Frog apologises and the curtain re-opens with Cleese now costumed as a Viking trying some Wagnerian opera as part of a duet with Sweetums. Once again, Cleese protests to Kermit, and gives the frog one more chance. This time, he is costumed as a Mexican maraca soloist. He has finally had enough and protests that he is leaving the show, saying “You were supposed to be my host. How can you do this to me? Kermit — I am your guest!”. The cast joins in with their parody of “The Impossible Dream”, singing “This is your guest, to follow that star…”. During the crowd’s applause that follows the song, he pretends to strangle Kermit until he realises the crowd loves him and accepts the accolades. During the show’s finale, as Kermit thanks him, he shows up with a fictional album, his own new vocal record John Cleese: A Man & His Music, and encourages everyone to buy a copy. This would not be Cleese’s final appearance with the Muppets. In their 1981 film The Great Muppet Caper, Cleese does a cameo appearance as Neville, a local homeowner. As part of the appearance, Miss Piggy borrows his house as a way to impress Kermit the Frog. Cleese won the TV Times award for Funniest Man On TV — 1978-79.

Many people think you are either born with creativity or you aren’t. But John Cleese explains how to become creative and in the video, he talks about such thing as the unconscious mind.

John Cleese has his own website here.

6 thoughts on “Creativity, John Cleese style

  1. Great to see this Paul – thanks so much. I’m very interested in creativity and absolutely adore the TED talks (going to put some on my blog posts soon.) Going to have a watch now… Have a great weekend – Ruth 🙂


  2. Thanks Paul. John Cleese’s insight explains why politicians alone cannot solve our environmental problems: They do not give themselves sufficient time to play with ideas, ponder problems and think laterally; and they are mostly too preoccupied with the solemnity and importance of their own positions to embrace different ways of doing things.


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