Tag Archives: John Tomiczek

Twenty-five years. A quarter of a century. That’s how long ago Graham Chapman was snatched away from us after his battle with cancer on October 4, 1989.
Graham
It doesn’t really seem possible, because Graham seems more alive than ever. He was much-remembered in the Monty Python Live (Mostly) reunion show at the O2 last summer. And, John Cleese does an excellent job of bringing his old writing partner back to live in the pages of his upcoming autobiography So Anyway

But of course, none of that can replace the living, breathing, squawking man that so many of us know and love, and I count myself fortunate to have so many personal memories. I try to blog an occasional Graham story and should do so more often. For instance…
Graham and his son John Tomiczek were in Chicago over a long weekend, when Graham was on one of his lecture tours. I had met up with them, as I usually did, showing them some of the more interesting people and places, catching up, and having a good time in general. Not long after they arrived, they made an unfortunate discovery: the hotel did not provide laundry service over the weekend. None of the other options had a sufficiently short turn-around time, and they wouldn’t have a chance to get their laundry done before leaving town. They had been counting on this and were down to the last of their supplies. When I arrived at their room, Graham was concerned enough to mention it to me. Don’t worry, I assured him, I know what we can do. And so, we piled into my car, laundry in the trunk, and headed to my parents’ house in Ottawa, Illinois.
About two hours later, we arrived late in the afternoon, and my parents were apparently about to leave to go out for dinner. But when Graham walked in, their plans went out the window. We all sat down and visited for a few minutes, and I explained their predicament. Dinner plans went out the window and my mother, bless her heart, immediately began doing their laundry. Shortly after that, I took Graham and John out to show them the sights of Ottawa, which did not take terribly long. But when we arrived back at my parents’ house, the laundry was finished. “She even folded everything!” admired John, as indeed she had, down to the socks and underwear. Graham and John were tremendously grateful, and we packed things up and went back to Chicago. I later told the story to Michael Palin, who dubbed her “Marge Johnson, Laundress to the Stars!”
It’s hard to imagine what Graham would be up to now if he were still with us (though I’m sure he’d be more organized with his laundry). Still, I can’t help thinking how unfair it was that he wasn’t about to join the other five at the O2. But I can tell you this: for the limited number of days he had, Graham lived each one to the fullest.

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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