Ridiculously happy birthday wishes to Michael Palin, the last of the Pythons to turn three-quarters of a century! That’s 75 years of being the Nicest Man Alive (and I’m happy to say that I’ve known him for over half of them). I’m going to celebrate by watching Michael’s brilliant performance in The Death of Stalin, where he portrays the nicest of the brutal Soviet despots. Happy birthday Michael, and many more!
A ridiculously Happy 74th to Arthur Putey, Mr. Gumby, the It’s Man, Cardinal Ximenez, Heinrich Bimmler, Mr. Pither, Sir Galahad the Pure, Ex-Leper, Ken Pile, Luigi Vercotti, Debbie Katzenberg. And so many more…
On October the 5th, 1969, the very first episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus first aired on the BBC.
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:
As the screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail was concluding in front of the audience, backstage the Pythons were obviously having a great time chatting with John Oliver in a very Anglo-centric conversation. They were all miked and waiting for their cue, posing for a few last-minute shots. As Terry Jones nibbled on a few of the snacks set out in the wings, none of them seemed particularly nervous about stepping out in front of the sold-out crowd. (Of course, if you can walk out in front of 16,000 people ten nights at the O2, perhaps the Beacon may not seem as intimidating.)
We heard their introduction and Jeff, Holly, a few Tribeca Film Festival folks and I stepped into the auditorium. The crowd roared as they slipped into their row of chairs and John Oliver began the conversation. It wasn’t long before the boys became restless however, and John Cleese walked offstage for a few moments. He returned with another chair, and pandemonium–very hilarious pandemonium–slowly began. Among the highlights: each of them re-arranging chairs so that half of them were facing the back of the stage; all of them but Eric dragging their chairs over next to John Oliver, encircling him; and John Cleese disappearing again and eventually waving his hand through the backdrop, causing enormous laughter completely out of context so that John Oliver was visibly baffled at the audience’s reaction (until he saw John’s waving hand).