Tag Archives: Eric Idle

The Penultimate Night of Monty Python

The scene backstage after the July 19 show was one of subdued excitement.

Python live photo op
 
Many of the folks in the green room had already seen one or more of the reunion shows, and were just enjoying the afterglow. Eddie Izzard, who had just seen his sixth show was at the bar, apparently being interviewed. It was his first time as the onstage celebrity during the Blackmail sketch, though, and he seemed to have really enjoyed his time up there with the Pythons.
 
After a few minutes, Terry Jones entered the room, and made a beeline to my son and me.We discussed the show, and Terry again marveled at how their audience just lifted them up and made it such a special event. Not long after, John Cleese entered and headed straight for us. I secretly enjoyed noticing that Eddie Izzard watched both John and Terry make a point of greeting me immediately, and he seemed to decide that I was someone worth noticing… Eddie joined us, and he gave John a couple of suggestions (undoubtedly solicited by John) about a couple of moments. I asked John if, during a couple of moments when lines were shaky, he had done what he had done in other live shows–leaning over and asking the audience “What’s the next line?” He said that no, he hadn’t, but might well utilize it the next night if the situation arose. 
 
The rest was a blur. Terry introduced me to Ian Davidson, a familiar name to Python fans but someone I had never before met. Carol Cleveland walked through the room in showgirl costume, too far for me to get her attention. Michael Palin came over and said hello, and we were able to catch up for a few minutes. Then he begged off, explaining that they had to do a meet and greet, and I told him that John had invited us along if that was okay. He was very happy to have us along, and so our group, the five Pythons and a few of us stragglers, tailed by a camera crew, made our way through the hallways of the O2, and finally came to a freight elevator. We all piled in–the five Pythons, my son and I, Eddie, their manager, the promoter, the camera crew, and a couple of other miscellaneous folks, all crammed inside. I think we went up several floors, though we may have descended–I’m not really sure, that’s how crowded and hectic it was. We got off in a large darkened storage area and headed toward what turned out to be a working pub crammed with fans who had opted for the meet and greet opportunity.
 
While the Pythons were being miked, Eric Idle noticed me for the first time, greeted me warmly, and asked how my little boy was. I pointed out that the young man towering over both of us was the little boy that he had remembered.
 
They entered the room to a rousing response, and fans who had literally come from around the world. They asked questions and Eddie moderated, and all seemed to have a great time. After about a half hour, the Pythons and the rest of the group headed back the way we came, down the elevator, and back to the bowels of the O2. Terry offered us a ride back to our bed and breakfast, which we gratefully accepted, and we had a drink in the Family Reception Room while he ran back to his dressing room for his bag.
 
As we rode back to North London, Terry explained that after the first show, as an experiment and at their promoter’s behest, they did an extensive meet and greet with fans, posing for photos and signing autographs. Unfortunately, it took them over two hours, and they were totally exhausted afterward, so from that point on, they did the up-close-and-personal Q&A sessions instead–otherwise they’d probably have been too exhausted to make it through the weeks of shows. I asked question after question–after all, we hadn’t seen each other in nearly five years–but it wasn’t long before the adrenalin wore off, and we were all longing for bed. We thanked Terry again as the car pulled up in front of our inn, and promised we’d see him tomorrow night for the Last Night of Python. 

The Unofficial World Cup Anthem

I meant to get this posted a few days ago, and I didn’t, and now England has already lost to Italy. Which only makes it more appropriate, I suppose.
The first time I ever heard this song was on the set of Life of Brian in Tunisia. Eric Idle had apparently recorded it in John Goldstone’s hotel room, and brought it down on the set for all of us to hear. Of course, it ended up as the closing number for Brian, and has gone on to become the unofficial anthem of losing football fans, comedy lovers, and funerals everywhere. This version includes a new verse to coincide with the World Cup and is, I should point out, available on itunes. It’s a great way to help you get over a World Cup loss. Just saying.

Nine years ago this week–on June 5, 2005–Monty Python’s Spamalot won the Tony Award for Best Musical (as well as awards for Mike Nichols and Sara Ramirez for Best Director and Best Actress, respectively). Since that time, it has played, literally, around the world many times over, and has shown no signs of ending. This is a mini-documentary about the rehearsals for the original London show, which includes a few familiar faces in addition to the cast (which is impressive enough, and includes Tim Curry recreating his original role of King Arthur). Yes, I know Graham Chapman was originally King Arthur, but Tim Curry is a much better singer. Take my word for it. And enjoy.

That’s a Wrap!

…It was forty years ago this week that Monty Python finished principal photography on MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL. The final day of filming was May 31, 1974, when they shot the Constitutional Peasants scene. Eric Idle had already left the location. They only had enough film left for one master shot, with no re-takes. Here’s how it turned out.

Python Singing Again

In early December of 1989, I was in London for the 20th anniversary party for Monty Python. Graham Chapman had died two months earlier, on October 4, so I was prepared for a bittersweet evening.

Graham’s memorial service had been held that afternoon (the day John Cleese gave his famous and touching “Good riddance, the freeloading bastard” speech), so Graham’s presence was very much in the air. I had the chance to spend time with Graham’s foster son, John Tomiczek, the last time I would ever have a chance to see him. So, it had the potential for a very emotional evening.

Fortunately, it turned out to be emotional in a very good way, the way one would hope a Python event would be. It was held in the hall where, a few years earlier, the Mr. Creosote scene was filmed for Meaning of Life, which gave it the proper credibility. I spent the evening catching up with Pythons, crew members, and family members, several of which I hadn’t seen since Life of Brian ten years earlier. The hours flew by.

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At the end of the night, gifts were handed out. There were three or four things to choose from, but I immediately honed in on something I’d never seen before–a brand new Python record album titled Monty Python Sings! It featured most of the great Python music from TV and films, collected on one piece of vinyl, under a beautiful Terry Gilliam cover. I had long been pestering the Python office to put out such an album, and here it was!

Despite knowing what a pain it would be to carry it back in my luggage, I brought it back to the States, and still remember the first time I heard it. In addition to all of the old favorites, there was one special treat. Graham had written and sang Medical Love Song for the Contractual Obligation Album (with Eric Idle) a few years earlier. But Monty Python Sings featured a new version, with additional lyrics, sung by Graham. His voice was noticibly weakened, but it was the last thing he did for Python before he died. I later found out that Eric had walked Graham through it all so that he would have one more piece of work for Python. And Eric immediately shot up to the top of the “Nicest Python List.”

Why do I bring all of this up now?

Because Monty Python Sings (Again) is being re-released on June 9, with new bonus recordings, a few long-lost gems from the Python archives, remixed Terry Gilliam cover artwork, and a special bonus disc of their very first record album, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, recorded live at Camden Town Hall in May 1970. Whether you’re going to the shows in July at the O2 Arena, or watching the final show in theatres, it’s a great way to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Python. It’ll be available on iTunes, or you can order a copy just by clicking here. Sounds like a great deal to me. Knowwhatimean?

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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.

Brand New Python Song!

…I mentioned a week or two ago that there would be some new Python material coming out soon. “The Silly Walks Song” will be featured in Monty Python Live (mostly) this summer at the O2 Arena, but the music video is out now. So why are you reading this when you could be watching it?

Happy birthday Eric!

…Eric Idle turns 71 on March 29, and is getting a brand new Python reunion for his birthday this year. It’s hard to believe they’re now all in their 70s, and even harder to believe that they waited until now to reunite for the stage show.

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I’m happy to say that he is busier than ever, organizing, producing, and in general planning for this massive production. Oh, and he’s also getting ready to re-release Monty Python Sings on CD with five new tracks, as well as releasing a single from it. Oh, and overseeing the various road productions of Monty Python’s Spamalot. Yes, he’s a busy man.

Eric and the others have influenced my life more than I have time to write about, but here’s one small example, stemming from one off-handed remark that I’m sure he doesn’t even remember.

Many years ago, I was with a group of folks, including Eric, although I wasn’t talking with him at that moment. There was a brief lull in the conversation of the group I was with, and I heard Eric say, casually, “Oh yes, I owned a tie once.” Something about the way he said it, and knowing he never had to wear a tie or deal with all that it entails, spoke to me loud and clear. I decided to embrace the idea, and avoid ties whenever possible. I haven’t been able to avoid it as much as Eric, but it struck me as a noble goal.

Of course, even Eric wasn’t immune to ties, although I can count the number of times on one hand since then that I’ve seen him wear a tie. Hopefully, today is not one of those days.

Happy birthday Eric!

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Python Sings (Again)…

It’s official. There will be a reissue of the 1989 CD Monty Python Sings, with five new tracks, one of which will be launched for free on Youtube. The Pythons will also release a single in May, leading the way for the Python Reunion show in July at London’s 02 Arena.

The first time I saw the Monty Python Sings album was at the Python 20th anniversary party in London. Graham had passed away just a couple of months previously (in an unsuccessful attempt to poop this particular party), and I was delighted to learn that one of the tracks on the album was an extended version of “Medical Love Song,” which Eric had helped Graham record shortly before his death.

Monty Python Sings is, essentially, a Python Greatest Musical Hits album; if you have a favorite song from Python, there’s a pretty good chance it’s on this album. And as of May, there’s an even better chance of a brand new favorite.