This post concludes my report on my evening at the TV Academy where part of IFC’s six hour docu-series on Monty Python was screened followed by a panel discussion with Python actors and filmmakers involved.
What struck me was the scrappiness of this irreverent band of brothers and how hard they worked at experimenting and creating all the loony, slyly subversive skits and movies that so many of us love to play and replay.
Monty Python’s Flying Circus ran on PBS from 1969-1974. Eric Idle recalled, “It wasn’t promoted, sold, or hyped so kids could find it. It was subversive [so they found it].”
“We were never sure anyone was going to laugh at what we did,” Terry Jones stated.
When moderator Pete Hammond asked why the show is so long lasting and still fresh, Idle responded, “It followed a period of political satire so it had to be generic.”
Pythons on comedy
Idle made a series of observations:
”Comedy is about telling the right thing at the wrong time.”
“If you’re an actor you’re always playing something that isn’t you. I’ve been sheep, fish, women.”
“Comedy is dangerous. You’re telling the truth to people who don’t want to hear it.”
Hammond quizzed the two Pythons on this possibility and got these response:
Terry Jones, “We’d look too old.”
Eric Idle: “When people ask this, they’re really saying – as they would with the Beatles – is that they want to be young again.”
Hammond pointed out that none of the troupe’s films ever got any awards. Terry Jones agreed, “Python films were never taken seriously by the film people.”
When I first heard it, I thought “Always look on the bright side of life” was an old pop tune. I didn’t realize that Idle wrote it to end The Life of Brian. Here are the boys at their witty, subversive best:
Fun & games, History/research, Television