Pure Gold

I had the honor of interviewing Herb Gold, the “Elder Statesman of the Beat Generation,” a few weeks ago for my book on the history of The Committee. He’s a San Francisco icon–hell, he’s a national treasure–who has been just about everywhere, done just about everything, and written about it. A LOT, in way more books than I can count. He was even, at one point, a roommate of my friend Del Close when the latter was appearing with the St. Louis Compass Players in the late 1950s.

Jamie Wright and Sam Shaw, who are compiling a documentary on The Committee, pointed out that there’s a great new interview with the esteemed Mr. Gold right here, and although it’s short, it’s well worth checking out.

When I interviewed him for my upcoming book, I was amazed at how clear and accurate he was about things that happened more than half a century ago. I was even more amazed when I found out that he was about to turn 90 years old. Happy birthday, Herb!


More Killing Jokes…

Since I made mention of the “Killer Joke”/”Joke Warfare”/”Deadliest Joke in the World” Monty Python sketch the other day, it struck me that since most of the people reading this weren’t in my iO classroom last weekend, I should probably elaborate on the two versions of the sketch.

The original version of “Killer Joke” is in the very first “Flying Circus” show aired (which is actually the second one recorded), and runs about nine minutes. When I was interviewing Terry Jones a little while back, he mentioned that when the Pythons released their “Personal Best” DVDs, he had actually re-edited it, shortening it by over three minutes. He was proudest of the the fact that, with nearly one third of it removed, he still hadn’t lost a single laugh.

That seemed like a lot to edit, so I viewed both versions afterward. And, not surprisingly, he’s absolutely right! The original version, which is the one I’ve embedded here, is very funny, but there are still a number of slow spots that can be edited out without damaging the sketch whatsoever. The most glaringly obvious is probably the pan from the British lines to the German lines, which seems to take forever. Terry took the whole thing and tightened it up, and when you view it on “Terry Jones’ Personal Best,” it zips right along and you don’t lose a single laugh.

I use it in my classes to teach students the value of editing, and it works wonderfully. Anytime the audience isn’t laughing is a good time to examine the sketch to see if anything should be cut.

Actually, there is a third version in “And Now For Something Completely Different,” the first Python movie. It’s also shorter than the original version, but as I’m too busy to get it out and time it, you can check it out for yourself if interested. In the meantime, here’s the original.

The Killing Joke…

Had a great weekend subbing for the Writing Program classes at the iO Chicago while the regular teacher went skipping off to Malaysia (Hi Michael!).


Here, my Spec Script students watch two different versions of Monty Python’s “Killer Joke” on three different screens to learn how Terry Jones cut three minutes out of a nine minute sketch, without losing a single joke. Great job, classes, and I’ll see you again soon!

The Little Time Travel Satire That Could…

“THE LAST OF THE TIME POLICE is a super-funny convoluted tale of time travel. It reminds me of a Kids in the Hall sketch or a Mel Brooks movie…a very interesting concept, fun characters, and will take readers by surprise!”

I’m always grateful for a good review (what author isn’t?), and this one by Star at the Bibliophilic Book Blog is certainly no exception! I don’t like to shove my books down anyone’s throats, so hope you’ll cut me a little slack, but I thought this review stood out. THE LAST OF THE TIME POLICE feels like the little Time Travel Satire That Could, and just keeps chugging along, picking up fans and supporters along the way. No hard sell here–just a big thanks!


Help Terry Gilliam help you…

For some reason, Sony pictures has decided that The Zero Theorem, Terry Gilliam’s amazing new film, is not going to be distributed in Scandinavia or Spain. Why, I don’t quite understand. And, I also don’t know how many followers I have in Scandinavia or Spain, but no matter where you live, it can’t hurt to sign this on-line petition so that the film-lovers in those places have the opportunity to check out Terry’s new movie, which stars Christoph Waltz, David Thewlis, and Matt Damon.


The Zero Theorem is scheduled for a late summer 2014 release by Sony in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t spread it around to the rest of the planet, does it?


Python Live Linking

The  Monty Python Live Facebook page just went live last week, and it looks like it might be a very good place to check in for occasional updates. Of course, this will, I hope, continue to be another very good place to check in for occasional updates. Why not keep using us both?

BTW, a couple of people have asked me if Terry Gilliam will be taking over Graham Chapman’s roles in this show. As I understand it…not quite. First of all, Terry and Graham are rather different types. Other Pythons may fill in for Graham in some circumstances, but there will also be clips and recordings of Graham filling in for Graham.

I should point out that while the show will include lots of favorite old sketches, there’s going to be new material, and new twists on old material. If you’ve seen or heard Monty Python Live at City Center or Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, you haven’t seen Monty Python Live (mostly). Tickets are still blah, blah, blah…

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David Koechner on A-hole roles and Cobert taking over “The Late Show”


My old pal Dave Koechner is probably best known to most folks as Champ Kind of Anchorman, or Todd Packer of The Office, but he’s much more than that. He’s currently touring with his standup act, and is well worth checking out. Here’s an interview.

Originally posted on WGN Morning News:

[ndn id=25801582]

Actor, Comedian David Koechner joins WGN Morning News

View original

Used Cars…

This instructional video from 1990 wouldn’t ordinarily be of much interest, except that it’s presented by Eric Idle. The bits without Eric have conveniently been edited out, though what remains will still teach you a little about buying and selling used cars. Enjoy.