My love of Monty Python was born of trying to pull in the show on the 12 inch television in my bedroom, late at night (at least it seemed that way to me) using rabbit ears antennae and gobs of aluminum foil. During these formative years, there were only three network over-the-air, network channels and at night we could pull in the local PBS station where Python was aired in the evenings. I sat there grasping the antennae in very odd angles to get the best reception. Cable TV is waaaay easier, but I wouldn’t change my experience or my love of Monty Python.
“We thought it might be Gwen Dibley’s Flying Circus, because she was a name Michael had pulled out of a newspaper, and then somehow we went off Gwen Dibley, I don’t know why—she could be famous now, you know? But somebody came up with Monty Python and we all fell about, and I can’t explain why; we just thought it was funny that night!”
I cannot think of a better way to describe the book than the very lengthy subtitle – “The Complete Oral History of Monty Python, as Told by the Founding Members and a Few of Their Many Friends and Collaborators” It was very interesting reading about the interplay of the Pythons and somewhat dark sides. There was a great deal of conflict, but they came together to put on a groundbreaking show. As I write this, I can see my copy of the complete series sitting in my entertainment center. All that I have to do is think of some of the sketches and I smile. Reading about their creative processes was a delight for me.
“The great joy of the group was that we made each other laugh immoderately. We had dinner together quite recently, all of us except Eric, and we all said afterwards we don’t really laugh with anyone else the way we laugh together—we really make each other laugh more than anyone else makes us laugh. And so the great joy of the meetings, one of the totally positive things that kept us ticking over and happy for a long time and probably helped us when things weren’t so easy, was the fact that we laughed so much.”
“IDLE: Gilliam is one of the most manipulative bastards in that group of utterly manipulative bastards. Michael is a selfish bastard, Cleese a control freak, Jonesy is shagged out and now forgets everything, and Graham as you know is still dead. I am the only real nice one!”
And I love this story….
“He wrote this whole sketch about this faulty toaster, and it was a beautifully written, beautifully crafted sketch, good sort of pear shape to it, and Graham must have listened to it or read it. As the story goes John was feeling a bit cross that he’d done all this work and Graham was merely sitting there, and Graham’s only remark was, “Yes, it’s boring, why not make it a parrot instead?” Whereupon it suddenly transforms into one of the most famous sketches they ever did.”