Tag Archives: Monty Python

Happy Birthday Michael!

Palin globesA 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…

 

PythonProv and the Python Process

My Python Process writing class and PythonProv improvisation classes at the iO Chicago are getting ready for their graduation shows, and I couldn’t be prouder. If you want to see why I’m so happy with them, stop by the Jason Chin Cabaret at 7 pm at the iO Tuesday, April 18 for PythonProv, and next Sunday night at 7 pm at the Chris Farley Cabaret at the iO. You will laugh.

School’s In…

If you’ve been putting off taking classes at the iO Chicago, wait no further. A new session is starting, and if you’re not careful, you may even find yourself in one of my classes. Beginning Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 6:30, I’ll be teaching Talk Show Packet (part of Michael McCarthy’s writing program), in which, if you put in the time and the work, you’ll find yourself with a packet of material to submit to your favorite TV talk show!

But that’s not all. Next Sunday will be the first session of both of my Monty Python-inspired classes, The Python Process and PythonProv. The former will show you how to use the same writing techniques utilized by the members of Monty Python to improve your own sketch writing. It’s a great adjunct to Michael’s SNL Sketch class, and we’ll present a show at the end of the eight-week session! And let’s not forget PythonProv, a brand new type of long form improvisation in which you’ll learn how to perform Python-influenced improv.

If you’re interested, you’ll need to contact the iO very soon to sign up, and please let me know if you have any questions.

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Happy Birthday Graham

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Been a little while since I’ve posted. Sorry. In the past month, I’ve had one graduation, the holidays, getting the kid ready for a move and a new job, and getting ready for another Cleese trip, not to mention my 103-year old Aunt Betty passing away unexpectedly.

But this would have been Graham Chapman’s 76 birthday, and that’s always worth a thought. Graham was an active member of Python for 20 years, and a considerably less active Python for 28 years now. It took nothing less than death to slow him down, and even then, he’s still been popping up in places like the O2 show, and making an ash of himself in various reunions. In fact, one thing that Graham never was, was inactive, and I’m glad that trend continues.

I’ll start posting more regularly as I travel with Mr. C this month. If you’re in the Northeast or parts of the Midwestern US, keep watching–John Cleese is coming your way. And in keeping with our theme, he’ll doubtless have lots to say about Graham.

 

Looking at the Bright Side…

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Sunday night saw Terry Jones honored by BAFTA for Lifetime Achievement, which you can read about here.  If you viewed it while it was live streamed or simply saw clips of it since then, I think you’ll agree it was a touching night, made more so by Terry’s announcement of his dementia diagnosis. Michael Palin gave a great speech, as did Terry’s son Bill. Even John Cleese was touched–and John isn’t a man consumed by sentiment!  While Terry may begin to fade from the public spotlight, his contributions will only become more obvious as time goes on. But as I’m sure he’d want me to remind you–he’s not dead yet!

 

Terry’s Day

I should probably point out that Terry Jones is getting a Lifetime Achievement Award this Sunday from BAFTA Wales.
As regular readers of this column know, Terry has recently gone public with his diagnosis of dementia, and although Terry won’t be speaking, his son Bill and Michael Palin will be presenting it. The ceremony will be streamed live, so anyone with internet access should be able to log on and watch. If you want to see it live, tune in to http://www.bafta.org/wales.
There’s a nice tribute page up for Terry on that site (I helped them organize some of the photos), and it should all be an emotional but celebratory time. It’s so nice to see an amazing talent and a wonderful man like Terry get the recognition he has earned, and I couldn’t be happier for him and his family. If you’re a fan of his, you won’t want to miss it.Willy_150908_9767

Terry and Terry

I know Terry Jones will be very excited and happy to see all of the well-wishes from his fans from around the world, and I’ll make sure his family is aware of them. Even though they are dealing with a lot nowadays, the outpouring of love, affection, and support is pretty incredible.

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In the midst of the announcement of Terry’s dementia, however, another bit of sad news for Python fans may be overlooked. Terence Baylor, one of the rep company for Life of Brian, passed away this week.

I got to spend many jolly hours with Terry B on the set of Brian in Tunisia, and he couldn’t have been nicer—I’m glad I was able to interview him for my Monty Python’s Tunisian Holiday book. He appeared in numerous roles throughout the film, from Carol Cleveland’s husband in the Sermon on the Mount scene, to the crucifee who said “I’m Brian and so’s my wife.”

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One indication of how much the Pythons valued him was evident when keeping in mind how little the Pythons improvised on any of their projects. When we were filming the crowd scene outside Brian’s window, the crowd responds to Brian’s “You’re all different” with “Yes, we are all different.” Terry B, who was standing near John, suggested something to him, and there was a brief discussion. The next thing I knew, when the hundreds of people shouted “Yes, we are all different,” Terry raised his hand and said “I’m not.” It worked, and it stayed in the final edit. Terence Baylor had just improvised in a Python film!

The last time I saw him was at a Python anniversary party in London in 1989, where he and some of the other rep company members were commenting (and rightly so) on how good Carol Cleveland still looked. I didn’t see much of him afterward, as he was a busy working stage, film, and TV actor, as evidenced by his appearance in the first Harry Potter film. But even Harry Potter didn’t let him improvise!

Terry…

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I’ve known for quite a while that I’d have to write this post, but I was hoping against hope that it wouldn’t happen. As many of you know, Terry Jones has been diagnosed with Frontal Temporal Dementia/Primary Progressive Aphasia, which has severely affected his ability to speak.

Terry will be getting a well-earned Lifetime Achievement Award from BAFTA Wales next weekend, and the family chose to make the announcement in the BAFTA press release that was just sent out. In accordance with the family’s wishes, I will say no more, except that Terry agreed to go public with his diagnosis in order to raise awareness in hopes of helping others with this horrible form of dementia.

I spent this past week with Terry, staying with him at his house, going for hikes, hoisting a couple of beers, and I can say that he is much loved and being well looked after. Terry and I had dinner with another old friend last night (see photo), and I have seldom laughed so much in a single evening.

I know Terry is cheered by the well-wishes of friends and fans, and while he may be stepping out of the limelight, we’ll thank him for Mr. Creosote, and Mandy, and Sir Bedevere, and so many more. Love you old chum…