Mighty Guest of Wind
Great interview with Christopher Guest in the Guardian. (Via Travelers Diagram.)
Guest's mother was American, his father was an English lord: Peter Haden-Guest, the fourth baron of Saling in Essex, an actor and dancer who ended up a UN diplomat. His half-brother is Anthony Haden-Guest, the bibulous English socialite and journalist satirised by Tom Wolfe in Bonfire Of The Vanities. Christopher dropped the Haden when he started going to acting auditions in his 20s - he thought it sounded long-winded and distracting.
Guest went to school and then acting school in New York, and spent most of his holidays in London, where his father attended the House of Lords. "I spent more time in America, but I developed a very English sense of humour," he says. "I clicked into it deeply with Peter Sellers, who is still probably my favourite comedian. I loved The Goons and then I got into Beyond The Fringe and by accident I met Jonathan Miller and those guys. And, of course, they led straight to [Monty] Python."
Asked to define this tradition of English humour, to which he clearly belongs, he ponders a moment and steeples his fingers again: "Silliness framed in intelligence. Even when it's stupid, you know intelligent people are doing it and that makes it a different joke. Stupid comedy over here is just plain stupid. It's moronic and I don't find it funny at all."