There’s a great scene in the movie You’ve Got Mail where Tom Hanks’ character claims the movie The Godfather is the “ I Ching… the sum of all wisdom…the answer to any question.”
Sorry Tom, you’re wrong. The sum of all wisdom, the answer to any question, can be found in the brilliant anthology of Monty Python.
It has been 60 years this month since the British troop Monty Python was formed. The troop featured five bright lights in British comedy: Eric Idle, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin and Terry Jones. American Terry Gilliam did the animation.
I grew up watching Fawlty Towers, Benny Hill and Monty Python. If you’re not familiar with these British trailblazers in comedy, you have to google some of their skits. They were nothing short of brilliant.
Together, the Python comedy troupe produced 45 television episodes, five films and a blockbuster Broadway musical.
Here are a few interesting facts you may not know about Monty Python
- In The Holy Grail, they wanted to use real horses, but didn’t have enough money so they used coconuts instead.
- Their first full length feature film, And Now For Something Completely Different, was meant to be a showcase for Americans who had never seen the show before.
- All five members attended and met at the most prestigious universities in Britain: Jones and Palin met at Oxford, while Cleese, Chapman and Idle all attended Cambridge.
- Beatle George Harrison was a huge fan of the show and came to the troupe’s rescue when financing for their controversial 1979 film “Life of Brian” fell apart. Harrison mortgaged his house for the movie to be made because he wanted to see it, kicking in $4 million pounds.
- Always look on the bright side of life has become one of the most popular songs played at British funerals and is often song at British soccer games when teams are losing.
I always say the truest test of an artist is their ability to stand the test of time. My daughter Clare a couple of months ago came into the living room when we were watching The Holy Grail. She said, “What is this?” and started watching it with us. At one point she turned to us and said “This is like Sharknado, but even better!”
Much, much better.
This week’s #HappyAct is to always remember the bright side of life and celebrate the 60th anniversary of Monty Python by watching your favourite Python movie or skit. Some of my favourites are The Lumberjack Song, The Argument Clinic, Not Dead Yet, and all of Holy Grail.
Maybe this year I’ll finally get to see Spamalot on stage. Eric Idle also just released an autobiography in 2018 called Always look on the bright side of life.
What’s your favourite Python sketch? Leave a comment.
Ed. Note: About a year ago, I watched a fascinating documentary that aired behind the scenes footage and interviews with the cast. Hopefully they’ll air it again this month, so watch for it.