I was in my local grocery store a few days ago, purchasing the fat, sugar and cholesterol that I consume to annoy my doctor. In conversation with the clerk at the checkout stand, I mentioned Monty Python and the young gentleman was clueless as to my reference. Naturally, my first thought was that it was most unfortunate that this fine example of American youth had grown up under a rock.
Ah, wouldn’t it be wonderful to be a teenager again, and know everything and nothing at the same time?
The truth of my grocery store situation was actually much simpler: Monty Python was before this young man’s time, so he missed such wonderful quotes as:
Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let’s not bicker and argue over who killed who.
Or the enchanting lyrics of the Lumberjack Song:
I cut down trees, I skip and jump, I like to press wild flowers. I put on women’s clothing and hang around in bars.
And yes, the Lumberjack Song was possibly, maybe, might have been sung by real lumberjacks…if you don’t look too closely.
Summing up: Monty Python was a delightfully unique British comedy troupe that tickled an entire generation, and drove the censors to astounding new heights of apoplexy. It’s difficult to determine which of these accomplishments is most noteworthy.
I have been specially asked not to be rude or inappropriate, which is a bit like inviting a boxer to fight and not asking him to hit anyone. – Eric Idle
Eric! Let’s talk about Eric Idle for a bit.
A member of Monty Python and a true Master of Comedy, Eric Idle captured the magic of silliness and put it on display in books, television, film and theater (including New York’s Broadway). What a fabulous career in comedy!
Consider a few quotes from Eric that I believe should rightfully be chiseled on the mythical Stone of Classic Comedy:
John Cleese once told me he’d do anything for money. So I offered him a pound to shut up, and he took it.
I’m….liberal. I believe in a woman’s right to choose me.
Nowadays, nobody gets irony, because we are now living in the post-ironic age. Once George Bush gets a library, all irony is dead.
Now, you may not believe that silliness has value, and if so, I can state unequivocally that you could not be more wrong. Being silly is a human delight that should be relished (on occasion, of course) by everyone stuck between conception and senility.
And for the record, while Monty Python members John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Graham Chapman, and Terry Jones were the actual culprits who mooned the audience at the performance of Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982), they did so after singing the song written by Eric Idle, Sit On My Face.
That’s right! Eric wrote a song entitled, Sit On My Face. US censors found the song to be “actionably indecent,” and audiences found it absolutely hilarious—garnering uproarious laughter, resounding applause and standing ovations.
How could Eric Idle have ignored the censors and delighted audiences everywhere?
I never think in terms of target audience. I try to write what makes me laugh, so I’m the target audience.
This bit of wisdom from Eric Idle is sponsored by… Jane’s Dairy Farm and Fetish Emporium, offering monogrammed cattle prods for work and play!
So, what does embracing silliness, and writing humor with yourself as the target audience lead to? Books sold. Standing ovations from many, many, many audiences, and possibly a long and productive career.
Eric Idle may be onto something!
Parting Funny: The people I really feel sorry for are Arab Americans who sincerely want to get into crop dusting. – Brian Regan
Next Up: Jokes That Fail