Published On: Wed, Jun 18th, 2014

Monty Python Reunion A Blast From The Past

A moment before the historic reunion of mythological comedy troupe Monty Python, Michael Palin, the troupe’s co-founder, opens up to Yonatan Gat about the fears :

  • During the group’s initial, formative days (“I thought we made a terrible mistake”)
  • About the reason for the reunion (“Some members needed the money”)
  • And, about the career after Python (“I was afraid I would die without having achieved anything else”)

A completely different interview.

Michael Palin and Yonatan Gat Photo Credit Raya Cottrell- ‎‏‏ - 1

 

“I’ve heard about you, Yonatan”, the man sitting across from me announces surprisingly. “John Cleese has told me you are very boring… Noooo, I’m joking. He didn’t say that. But he could have! He is a very cruel man, you know.”

Michael Palin doesn’t have to try hard in order to make me laugh until I’m out of balance. After all, this is a comedian that has brought me to tears of laughter for 20 years. This is the man who in 1969 formed, along with John Cleese, the legendary Monty Python troupe, which has revolutionized British humour with sketches such as the lumberjack song (Palin yearns to wear women’s clothing), the argument clinic (Palin pays for a useless argument), and of course, the dead parrot (Palin tries to convince Cleese the parrot he had sold him isn’t actually dead, just resting).

I have learned these sketches, that appeared on the groundbreaking television show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”, by heart from video cassettes I had rented from the local video store, and I have later meticulously memorized the cult films – “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, “Life of Brian” and “And Now for Something Completely Different”, which were screened at the movie theatre near my home, as well. Palin, as you’ve already figured out, is responsible for the fact that my teenage years were exceptionally funny and silly.

“I’m flattered that young people your age are laughing at materials I wrote 45 years ago, ” says Palin, who is now 71 and is smiling sheepishly when we meet at his favorite private club in one of the alleys in Soho, London. “But it’s especially confusing to me, I must admit. I do not always quite understand why it is still all coming up for grabs again. Even back in the day, we have done some things I never thought anyone would find funny. But it worked.”

For example?

“When we shot the King Arthur themed movie ‘Holy Grail’ in 1974, I wrote a skit about knights who threaten others by loudly saying the dreaded word ‘Ni!’, with everyone else finding their strange pronouncements terrifying. It was a cold day, it was late in the evening, I was standing on a ladder with a huge helmet on and I remember saying to myself, ‘Come on, nobody is going to find this funny ’. Today, this skit is considered legendary. People know it by heart.”
– How do you define the Python humour?

“It is difficult to define. We used a combination of different types of humour: classic skits with a twist, slapstick comedy, even mocking people’s follies as well as extreme seriousness too sometimes. Anything that was not conventional, but still had an element of fun. I know that the word ‘fun’ sounds banal, but it was a very core component for us. Even though our humour could be rude, it encourages people and doesn’t try to lighten up the darker side of the world. In this regard, we are pretty similar to the Beatles, for which the element of enjoyment was also critical. Perhaps this is why people continue to love Monty Python.”

 

Monty python-Michael Palin,    Eric Idle,    Terry Jones,    Terry Gilliam and John Cleese attend the Monty Python Reunion announcement press conference at the Corinthia Hotel in London. Read more httpwww.rollingstone.commoviesnewsmo

 

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