Tag Archives: #ericidle

Happy Birthday Eric!

Hard to believe that I am older now than #ericidle when this was taken, backstage at the City Center (note the lumberjack shirt)!

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Why #MontyPython is still not dead yet

Here’s an article on how Monty Python nearly ended before it began:

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/06/the-unknown-hero-who-saved-monthy-pythons-flying-c.html

Although there isn’t much longtime fans didn’t know, it never hurts to point out how precarious history can be, and how important it is to save, document, and archive as much as possible.

Just a few things to point out. Terry Jones usually told me that it was Flying Circus editor Ray Millichope who gave him the warning that the Python shows were going to be taped over, but there were a couple of times that he credited someone in the archive department. Terry usually sat in with Millichope and series director Ian MacNaughton when the Flying Circus shows were being edited, which drove MacNaughton crazy at first, but Terry and Millichope became much friendlier. I suspect–and this is only a guess–that Millichope found out about the planned videotape wiping from someone in the archive department, and he passed the news along to Terry. Or, Terry became such a familiar face in that area of the BBC while he sitting in on the editing, that someone felt comfortable enough to pass the news on to him. While Terry doesn’t remember anymore, his presence at the BBC is almost certainly the reason he got the phone call.

For a short time, Terry was convinced that the videotaped copies he had at his house would be the only evidence that Monty Python ever existed, and he wanted the tapes to show to his children some day.

But it was right around this time that PBS made their first overture to the BBC about Python. It did not end well, but it gave the BBC the idea that these programs just might be worth keeping after all. And sure enough, a short time later, Ron DeVillier successfully convinced the Dallas PBS station to try the show in America. And the rest is comedy history.

And by the way, the videotape reels were not small back then, and they took up enormous shelf space, which was another reason the BBC didn’t want to keep anything they didn’t have to.

But Monty Python was almost forgotten for another reason. If they had launched Flying Circus a year or two earlier, it would have probably been in black and white instead of color. By the late 1960s, black and white shows were much less marketable than color programs, both in Britain and abroad, and there would have been much less reason for keeping them around. That’s why so few BBC comedy shows from the 60s survive–to the BBC, they looked old-fashioned and much less interesting than anything in color. And that seems to be a huge reason why Python pre-cursors Do Not Adjust Your Set and At Last the 1948 Show were thought lost–and why it has taken so many years to reconstruct both series. John says that except for the faces, the final 1948 show was not very different from the first Python shows–except, of course, the latter were in color.

It’s amazing how much that could have been easily saved, was instead wiped and thrown out. I know that several of the scenes cut from Life of Brian were saved on videotape by Terry Jones when the film was being edited. Those are apparently the only copies that still exist. One time when I was visiting Terry at his house in the ’80s, he showed me the deleted scenes on his VCR; it’s hard to believe that those were the videotaped versions used for DVD extras when the deluxe version of the film was released. The film copies were apparently thrown out, possibly as a cost-saving measure.

Less than five years ago, one of my students mentioned that he had seen some rare outtakes and rehearsal scenes from Meaning of Life, thanks to a professor friend in the Southwest U.S. I was skeptical, but discovered that he had, in fact, a large box of videocassettes from the film. It turns out that a friend of a friend knew Terry J, and when they were having dinner, Terry mentioned that he had all sorts of tapes left over from editing the film, and he was about to throw them out (he had recently finished the film). The professor recognized their value, and offered to take them. As a result, I was able to contact him, and today the Meaning of Life outtakes, rehearsal scenes, and alternate takes are all in the Python archives in London. Don’t be surprised to see them turn up on DVD when the time is right.

So, there are success stories, and we can only hope that in the future, even more Python material will turn up.

The Pythons always give credit to the BBC for giving them almost unprecedented creative freedom, but the penny-pinchers there almost wiped out the results of that freedom. Let’s be grateful that they didn’t succeed.
Visit Kim “Howard” Johnson’s author’s page at amazon.com

Together Again, Again…

John Cleese and Eric Idle are continuing their two-man sit-down comedy tour of the Southeastern U.S. If you are anywhere it Florida, it will soon be impossible to escape them. So why not give in? Ticket info is here, and the sooner you do, the better your seats will be.

#cleeseandidle

Happy birthday Monty Python!

On October the 5th, 1969, the very first episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus first aired on the BBC.

montypython

A lot of things have changed since then, but those shows are just as funny now as they were then. The second episode recorded was the first one aired. Here’s what BBC audiences first saw that evening:

Full Monty…

I mentioned recently that Python fans would have an opportunity this fall to see at least four of them in front of an audience. Michael Palin will be touring in England in September and October, John Cleese and Eric Idle will be performing in the Florida-Georgia-Virginia area in October, and Terry Jones will be making a rare U.S. appearance at Dragon Con in Atlanta September 5-7.

Did you think Terry Gilliam would be the only holdout? Fret no more. Terry will be in L.A. (actually, Glendale) to promote his new book Gilliamesque on October 19th at the Alex Theatre. Here’s the scoop.
Tickets will be going fast for this one, so don’t hesitate. If you enjoyed the John and Eric evening last year–or for that matter, if you’re reading my posts–what are you waiting for?
And in case you were wondering–I’m not done yet! I should have yet another announcement to post soon!  #montypython @ericidle @johncleese @pythonjones @montypython @terrygilliam #terrygilliam

Cleese and Idle…together again for the first time!…

When I saw @johncleese recently, he told me that he would be touring around Florida this fall with @ericidle. And now, the official announcement has been made here. If you saw John and Eric in LA last November, you know this is not to be missed. Say no more.

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The green room at the Beacon (actually, under the Beacon) Theatre was well-stocked with food and drink after the Q & A, as the Pythons and friends made their way downstairs (thanks to Jeff Slate for the photo!). One of the nicest things about a Monty Python party (and, to paraphrase from Life of Brian, I should know, I’ve been to a few) is how so many familiar faces and members of the Python family seem to turn up. It’s always particularly happy to see the various family members, former co-workers and devoted friends that only seem to turn up every few years at these kinds of events. Strange as it may sound, Python is a family (and of course, the fans are a valued part of that family. But it was delightful to see folks like Roger Graef, Simon Jones and his wife Nancy, and John and Linda Goldstone.

I followed Terry Jones and John Oliver into the room and we all had a drink as the rest of them poured in, and everyone had a chance to catch up properly. I was approached by several people whom I had forgotten, and had to be reminded that I knew because they were “friends of Graham.” I took them at their word because, well, Graham certainly had a lot of friends.

A few famous faces made their way in, and I saw John talking to Hank Azaria. It soon became rather crowded, and Terry J suggested that we head down the block to the Amsterdam Ale House for dinner, where I mentioned earlier that they were serving Stone Dry Hopped IPA on cask. Terry hadn’t forgotten. I made my way over to John to let him know I was leaving, and I saw him talking to John Goldstone. As I approached him, however, I realized it was not John Goldstone, but in fact Kevin Kline and his son. I apologized for my intrusion, but Kevin was glad to see me, as we had spoken on the phone several times when I worked for John, but we had never met. We also joked about how John used to make fun of his acting, noting that while he felt Kevin was a great actor, he was an even greater over-actor.

And so with that, Terry J and I and a couple of other friends headed up to the Ale House for dinner and drinks. Despite the jet lag and general lack of sleep (I had gotten up at 3 a.m. for my flight), we found some extra adrenalin that kept us going well past midnight for a successful day, and a memorable Python anniversary.

@montypython #montypython