He’s a comedy legend of five decades standing and a fervent advocate for trying new things. But while he’s a happy iPhone owner and has played Q’s offsider/successor in two Bond flicks, John Cleese is by his own admission not much of a gadget freak.
Cleese was chatting with Australian media by phone from Monaco last week as part of an ad campaign for Canadian Club which he has performed the voiceover for. I wouldn’t have cared if he was promoting anti-fungal cream; I wasn’t going to pass up the chance for an interview, however brief.
Cleese has always happily combined ‘commercial’ work such as advertisements and his Video Arts training company with acting and writing projects. Money aside, his willingness to work on this ad reflected his own belief in trying out new things. “If I go into a cocktail bar — I was staying in a hotel in Monaco recently and they had a great bar — I was trying the different cocktails, I love to try new things and the campaign is really just saying that, saying ‘don’t go into a pub and just ask for the same beer you’ve been asking for for the last 10 years, try something different’.”
Cleese has also applied that logic to technology, albeit at a slower speed. “I’ve gradually got dragged into the technology. I obviously use email a great deal and I have an iPhone. What I like about being able to send people texts is that I can send short texts to people.”
“It’s a very efficient way of communicating some of the time provided that you don’t rely on it for anything that’s to do with deeper and more important things, because deeper and more important things get very scrambled when you’re using shorthand, you know.”
Cleese’s girlfriend Jenny has also introduced him to the delights of Skype, so he’s clearly not a luddite. But he does confess to finding gadget enthusiasts strange.
Most of the gadgetry is of no interest to me at all. I just want a few simple things and I can never quite understand how people get fascinated in gadgets any more than I can understand why geologists get fascinated by rocks. I think it was Samuel Johnson who said something to the effect that whatever’s about human beings is what’s really important, and I believe that.
You can read my full interview with Cleese over at Lifehacker, and check out highlights in the clip below:
Main picture by Ian Waldie/Getty Images