Fun Friday: John Cleese company training videos to be preserved

by L&D20 May 2016
Office training films featuring British comedians such as John Cleese are set to be preserved by the British Film Institute.

Moreover, two of the titles will also be made available to the public free online from Sunday, according to the BBC.

These include the 1974 title Manhunt in which Cleese plays three managers who struggle to run a selection interview.

The other is the 2016 short called Control Freakery which features Robert Webb and Sally Phillips.
The company behind the films is Video Arts which was founded in 1972 by Cleese, Sir Antony Jay and a few other television professionals.

"Our library charts the changes that have taken place in the workplace and documents our unique approach of using humour to change behaviours at work,” Martin Addison, chief executive officer of Video Arts was quoted as saying by the BBC.

"To quote John Cleese, 'People learn nothing when they're asleep and very little when they're bored'."
Other notable Cleese training videos include The Helping Hand which was designed to show managers the importance of coaching.

In this circumstance, Cleese helps the manager to identify which tasks each team member could take responsibility for, and coach him or her accordingly.

L&D Professional has previously spoken to Eve Ash, psychologist & speaker, and CEO of Seven Dimensions about how John Cleese used humour effectively for training videos in the 70s.

She told this publication that the art of using comedy or humour is to make it succinct because humour doesn’t appeal to every single person.

However, if it’s fast and spot-on in terms of relevance it works well, she said.

“This was the heart of why in the 70s John Cleese was so successful using comedy in business films because people really saw themselves or other people making those mistakes,” Ash added.

“The problem that happened over the years after that is the pace of business picked up, and there isn’t the amount of time available in training to waste time laughing at negative role models.”

To view a trailer for The Helping Hand Video, click here.

Photo source: By Paul Boxley - Originally posted to Flickr as John Cleese, CC BY-SA 2.0,

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