Category Archives: Books

Monty Python’s Big Red Book

“Monty Python’s Big Red Book”
Editor: Eric Idle
Publisher: Eyre Methuen
Publication Date: 1971 (Hardcover); 1972 (Paperback)
Combined with “The Brand New Monty Python Papperbok” and reissued, under the titles “The Complete Works of Shakespeare and Monty Python: Vol. 1 – Monty Python” (1981) and “The Monty Python Gift Boks” (1986).
 

 

The Pythons’ first book ingeniously captured the spirit of the series, while also playing with the parameters of a printed book. Despite the title, it has little in common with Chairman Mao’s “Little Red Book” (or even with the color red).

Contents

ITN Newsreader Forewords; Classified Ads; Ken Shabby & Rosemary – A True Love Story of Our Times; “Why Accountancy Is Not Boring,” by Mr. A. Putey; Naughty Pages; An election guide to the Silly Party’s roster of candidates; A report on the Batley Townswomen’s Guild’s Productions; E.D. Silly’s Page; “Spam Song”; Poetry; The World Encyclopedia of Carnal Knowledge; Australian Page; Children’s Story; “Blackmail!”; “Bing Tiddle Tiddle Bong!”; A New Version of “The Importance of Being Earnest”; A Souvenir Photo of Sir Kenneth Clark; Le Pouff Celebre; Madam Palm Writes; The Family Tree of Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern …; Radio Times Report on the Upper Class Twit of the Year Competition; “Lumberjack Song”; Do-It-Yourself Story; Goats’ Page; “Old Boys” Nazis; Whizzo Chocolates; Selections from the Hungarian-English Phrasebook; Johnson’s Novelties; How to Walk Silly; Be a Modern Hermit; The Poems of Ewen McTeagle; The Piranha Brothers; Python Literary Guild.

The Making of

The challenge of adopting television sketches to print form was especially attractive to Eric Idle, who was contacted by Methuen about the possibility of a Python book. He took on the job of editor.

Derek Birdsall and Katy Hepburn were responsible for the graphic design and layout, incorporating many of Gilliam’s illustrations.

Because the design of the fake newspaper pages and advertisements is so close to the real thing, the humor is as successful as when the TV series accurately mimics the “real” TV programmes it is parodying.

Reception

The book sold out its first two printings within two weeks, and vaulted onto the bestseller lists. To date it has sold more than a half-million copies.

At least one reader of “Big Red Book” was not laughing. While libel laws might protect the humorist from the victims of his parody, copyright laws are another matter. Shortly after the book’s release, the Pythons received a letter of complaint from a music publisher whose trade names had been borrowed to give the Python’s sheet music for “Bing Tiddle Tiddle Bong” an extra degree of verisimilitude. To avoid an injunction against sales, the sheet music pages underwent a revision in all subsequent copies.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20161106204104/http://www.montypython.com/book_Monty%20Python’s%20Big%20Red%20Book/22#oAfr5GFDjLHW8fuA.99

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Monty Python and The Holy Grail (Book)

“Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Book): Mønti Pythøn Ik Den Hølie Gräilen (Bøk)”
Designer: Derek Birdsall
Publisher: Eyre Methuen
Publication Date: 1977 (Paperback)

The “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” screenplay is reproduced along with numerous production stills and storyboards.

Contents

Monty Python’s Second Film (First Draft); Lobby Cards; Final Draft of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” Including Unfilmed Scenes; Production Stills, Contact Sheets, Storyboards and Terry Gilliam Doodles; Statement of Financial Position and Cost of Production Statement (from chartered accountants Bryce Hammer & Co.)

The Making of

“It’s amazing,” John Cleese says in “The Python’s Autobiography,” “if you look at the first draft of ‘Grail’ how little of that appears in the movie, it’s about 10 percent of the first draft. But I remember Mike and Terry reading out the coconuts thing which gave us a key to a certain approach of how to do it.”

The desire among the group to do a movie was strong, and the disappointments of “And Now for Something Completely Different” meant they wanted to avoid another sketch film. In the TV series, with “The Cycling Tour,” they had already played with a single sketch running the length of an entire show, so a single narrative had already been explored. But it was in fits and starts that the film’s over-arching narrative (which allowed for a bunch of sketches tied together) became a medieval parody featuring King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

The initial draft of “Holy Grail” actually spanned centuries, with scenes set in a modern-day Harrods, where the Grail is found.

“I was more keen on keeping the narrative in the Arthurian world than making jokes about Harrods,” said history degree-bearer Michael Palin. “I was interested in creating his world and making the convention, the background setting, so convincing that you don’t have to defuse it, you don’t have to apologize for it, you don’t want to leave it.”

When it was decided (though the passionate campaigning of Terry Jones) to keep the film in the Middle Ages, that opened the gates to material that was both modern in temperament (Constitutional Peasants, Castle Anthrax) and true to the heroic tradition of Arthur and his knights.

The finished script is fresh, inventive, unashamedly violent (the menacing Black Knight has all his limbs severed but refuses to give up the fight) and pointedly anarchic (even God put in an appearance, as an eye-rolling cartoon figure).

The published shooting script includes cuts and unfilmed scenes, such as Sir Alf (Arthur: “I didn’t know we had a Sir Alf.”) and King Brian the Wild, who seeks close harmony groups that he can have executed.

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The Life of Brian: Monty Python’s Scrapbook

“The Life of Brian: Monty Python’s Scrapbook”
Editor: Eric Idle
Contributing Editor: Michael Palin
Designers: Basil Pao, Mike Diehl
Publisher: Eyre Methuen
Publication Date: 1979 (Paperback)

This oversized book is actually two books printed back-to-front – a reproduction of the screenplay, and a scrapbook of deleted scenes and original material. The book you read depends on which side you start it on.

Contents

The screenplay of “The Life of Brian (of Nazareth)” is reproduced with a generous helping of production stills.

The “Monty Python Scrapbook” features dialogue from deleted or unfilmed scenes, such as Brian preaching about forced sex, his encounter with the psychopathic beggar, and the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night.

There is also an introduction by Squadron Leader Bigglesworth; name-dropping diary entries by Terry Jones and Michael Palin from the Pythons’ Caribbean sojourn where the screenplay was polished; “Monty Python’s First Ten Years,” a tribute by Queen Elizabeth; a list of what film stars should take with them on location (No.1: A bottle-opener); cinema quizzes; Palin’s letter from Tunisia; how much Brian actually had to feed the multitudes; “What to Do If You Win a Granny”; excerpts from “Sharing” magazine, such as Palin’s memoir, “Sharing a Caravan With John Cleese”; iIlustrations from Terry Gilliam’s animated opening titles; the script of a trailer featuring the aliens; the sports page of the Jerusalem Advocate; lyrics of the “Otto Song,” “All Things Dull and Ugly,” and for some reason, the Bruces’ “Philosophers’ Song”; a list of medications brought to Tunisia by crew doctor Graham Chapman; an appreciation by Graham Greene; and a helpful guide on what to do after the movie’s over.

The Making of

The strength of the “Life of Brian” script comes from the story grounded in very real characters and their situations (despite a passing spaceship – but hey, it could happen!).

When asked how he approached the creation of characters, such as Ben, the prisoner who taunts Brian, Palin said, “I think they are very instinctive. Certainly it’s the way I write. I just write something which comes into my head, or a situation, and it comes out like that, and then probably at the end you can make a connection: ‘Ah yes, I can see where this comes from.’ But at the time it feels very intuitive.

“Unlike Ben, who was created from nowhere, Pontius Pilate was a legitimate historical character, part of the Bible story, [therefore] he had to be dealt with. How do you deal with this man? I must have felt: ruling class, British ruling class, very often distinguished through some aristocratic inbreeding by vowel difficulties of some kind, or vocal distinctions I think it might have come form there.

“Pilate never acknowledges that he has a problem at all. This is the wonderful thing, again I think this just have come in my mind from listening to Violet Bonham Carter or people like that, the English aristocracy. They have vewy stwange ways of tawking, and they doughn’t think eet’s vewy extwawdinawy at awl!”

But just as the film faced possible prosecution for blasphemy in the British courts, so, too, did the book. Publisher Eyre Methuen was concerned after the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation banned a radio documentary about the making of “Life of Brian” (which included clips from the film). When asked his opinion on whether the book of the screenplay and deleted scenes might risk a similar fate, a Canadian lawyer said yes: “I am most concerned with the traditional book-banning groups so long accused of narrow-mindedness in prosecuting and persecuting books about sex, who will jump on this book as a move to clear their reputation.”

He also warned that a judge or jury might find elements of the film (and script) to contain “scurrilous, offensive, contumelious abuse to sacred subjects.”

Awaiting word whether the film would pass the U.K. censors, Methuen feared being liable in criminal proceedings, as blasphemy was a criminal offense. Among the areas of concern was the “Scrapbook”‘s scene between Solly and Sarah, a young pregnant woman who relates how she was ravished by a “Holy Ghost.”
The Pythons stood firm unwilling to make changes to the book (which had been published in the United States with no censorship), and after the film was given an “AA” stamp of approval by the British censors, Methuen moved forward.

… Except when it came to the printers, who had consulted their own lawyer, none other than the man who had successfully prosecuted Gay News and worked as an adviser to the Festival of Light, a group that advocated against sexually-explicit material in the media. Consequently, the first printing of the book had the unique distinction of being printed by TWO printers – one for the screenplay, and one for the “Scrapbook.”

Reception

While the film itself was banned in Ireland, Norway, parts of America’s Bible Belt, and several communities in the United Kingdom, the printed screenplay was also banned in South Africa, where it joined “Monty Python’s Big Red Book” and “The Brand New Monty Python Bok” on its list of “objectionable literature” deemed to be prejudicial to the South African government.

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The Brand New Monty Python Papperbok

“The Brand New Monty Python Papperbok”
Editor: Eric Idle
Illustrators: Terry Gilliam, Peter Brookes
Design and Graphics: Kate Hepburn, Lucinda Cowell
Publisher: Eyre Methuen
Publication Date: 1973 (Hardcover), as “The Brand New Monty Python Bok”; Reissued in 1974 in paperback.  Combined with “Monty Python’s Big Red Book” and reissued, under the titles “The Complete Works of Shakespeare and Monty Python: Vol. 1 – Monty Python” (1981) and “The Monty Python Gift Boks” (1986). 

The Pythons’ second book was even denser than their first, with even more creative use of graphics, fonts and inserts. There was also a higher percentage of new material – including a parody of teen magazines – not inspired or adapted from the TV series.

Contents

Safety Instructions; The Wobbles; Biggles; Film Rights; The Llap-Goch Master; Edward Woodward’s Fish Page; The Python Book of Etiquette; Famous First Drafts; Poetry; Puzzle Page; The Bloody Bigots Club; The London Casebook of Detective Rene Descartes; St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Wallpaper; 16 Magazine; Masturbation Advertisement; Python Panel; The Adventures of Walter the Wallabee; Calendar: Mr. April; Nixon Photo Contest; Word Record Attempt; The Oxfod Simplified Dictionary; Film Reviews; Rat Recipes; Overland to the World; Colour Page; “African Notebook” by Col. B.B. Wakenham-Plsh MC, OBE; How to …; Norman Henderson’s Diary; Sex-Craft; How to Take Your Appendix Out on the Piccadilly Line; Join the Dots; The Stage Directory; The British Apathy League; Let’s Talk About Bottoms; Page 71; Books From Slater-Methuen; Happy Valley; Ferndean School Report; The Stratton Indicator; The Cheeseshop Word Game; The Official Medallic Commemoration of the History of Mankind; The Anagrams Gape (4); Your Stars; Hamsters: A Warning; Teach Yourself Surgery

The Making of

Kate Hepburn took over art direction duties for the Bok, which was a marvel of design. Terry Gilliam also created original illustrations. 

The hardcover version featured a fingerprint-smeared dust jacket, which caused confusion and consternation among both bookbuyers and booksellers, convinced that the fingerprints were real smudges. The jacket nonetheless discreetly hid the front cover of Tits ‘n Bums (A Weekly Look at Church Architecture). Alas, for the paperback version released the following year (called the “Papperbok”), the loss of the dust jacket meant the loss of the very naughty photo beneath. 

Naughtiness was of concern to the lawyers for Methuen, as there were real questions whether the publication of Brand New Bok would run afoul of England’s obscenity laws. In the opinion of one lawyer contacted by Methuen, it was doubtful that the Bok would be deemed obscene by a jury (though he held the view that a magistrate acting on his own might declare it so). 

However, when the book’s printers (who could also be held liable in an obscenity trial) requested another solicitor’s opinion, the letter they received was troubling. It read in part, “[T]he book was unlikely to be held to be obscene but that, in relation to the possibility of its being read by persons in their early teens the wording in the top right-hand corner of page 65 might provide cause for complaint.” [The offending word: “penis.”] He also warned that certain passages might be declared defamatory [“And remember, ANYONE can be a film producer, all you need is money and a certain vicious ruthlessness”], or that Mr. Norris McWhirter, “the well-known litigant,” might believe a racist letterwriter by the name of Col. Sir Harry McWhirter, M.C.C., referred to him. 

The irony of defending Pythonic humor from charges that it was defamatory was laid clear in a letter from another lawyer who wrote, “The article entitled ‘How to become a Segas Employee’ worrys us a little, mostly because we do not know what it is supposed to mean.” 

With the printers seeking assurance from the publisher, and with the rest of the Pythons still in North America on tour, John Cleese agreed to excise “penis” (ow!). The book was released in time for the Christmas sales rush. 

Rush, indeed: The Bok sold more than 160,000 copies in a few weeks’ time. 

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The Complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus: Just the Words (Vol. 1 & 2)

“The Complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus: Just the Words (Vol. 1 & 2)”
U.S. Title: “The Complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus: All the Words (Vol. 1 & 2)”

Editor: Roger Wilmut
Publisher: Eyre Methuen
Publication Date
: 1989 (Paperback/Slip Case)

Roger Wilmut (author of “The Goon Show Companion”) oversaw the creation of this two-volume transcription of the Pythons’ TV series covering every episode, plus recording and original transmission dates. 

Contents
Volume I contains the scripts of episodes 1-23.

Volume II contains the scripts of episodes 24-45.

Each volume also contains a selection of black-and-white photographs, taken from the videotapes.

The Making of

Because the shooting scripts were often changed during filming and editing of the shows, the book was built on transcripts of the dialogue taken for subtitling purposes, cross-checked against the syndicated tapes of the shows.

Character names, if not spoken, were taken from the original camera scripts, with the performer cited (if identifiable).

In explaining the difficulties of proofreading the 22.5 hours of material, Wilmut noted that the stenographers sometimes did not have the ear for Python humor: “Example, in Chapman’s courtroom monologue, ‘and their youngest, their youngest, as thin as a filing cabinet’ came out as ‘he’s still in a filing cabinet’ – there was a lot of this sort of thing, the transcriber going for what you might call a linear understanding of what they heard rather than a Pythonesque one.”

Wilmut also wrote up stage directions when none existed. Most of Gilliam’s indescribable animations are left undescribed.

Since the book only covers the Python shows produced by the BBC, the two “Fliegender Zirkus” episodes are not included.

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The Fairly Incomplete and Rather Badly Illustrated Monty Python Song Book

“The Fairly Incomplete and Rather Badly Illustrated Monty Python Song Book”
Foreword: Elvis Presley
Middleword: God
Afterword: Brigadier N.Q. T.F. Sixpence
Music editor: John Du Prez
Designer: Gary Marsh
Illustrator: Terry Gilliam
Publisher: Methuen
Publication Date: 1994

In addition to helpful (!) instructions on how to read music and play a piano, the “Song Book” contains melodies and lyrics for many of the best- and least-known Python tunes, interspersed with numerous photos and the wonderful art of Terry Gilliam.

Contents

Songs include: “Do What John?”; “Spam”; “O Lord Please Don’t Burn Us”; “The Lumberjack Song” (in English and German); “Dennis Moore”; “The Ferret Song”; “The Money Song”; “The Bruces’ Philosophers Song”; “Muddy Knees”; “Proust Summarizing”; “Ballad of Sir Robin”; “Eric the Half a Bee”; “Yum Yum Di Bucketty”; Bing Tiddle Tiddle Bong”; “Yantse Song”; “Oliver Cromwell”; “I Like Chinese”; “Knights of the Round Table”; “Here Comes Another One”; “Henry Kissinger”; “The Background to History”; “I’ve Got Two Legs”; “I’m So Worried”; “Never Be Rude to an Arab”; “Finland”; “Decomposing Composers”; “Anything Goes”; “A Medical Love Song”; “I Like Traffic Lights”; “Brian”; “Penis Song”; “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”; “I Bet You They Won’t Play This Song on the Radio”; “Christmas in Heaven”; “Sit On My Face”; “Accountant Sea Shanty”; “Every Sperm Is Sacred”; “The Meaning of Life”; and “The Galaxy Song.”

 

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Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life

“Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life”
Publisher: Methuen
Designer: James Campus
Animation Pages Designer: Kate Hepburn
Publication Date: 1983

The Pythons’ last film together was a return to the sketch format of the TV series and their first film, “And Now for Something Completely Different,” but with an overarching conceit that gave a narrative structure to sketches about procreation, going to war, foul restaurant patrons, live organ transplants and talking fish. The book is a very well-designed keepsake, lusciously illustrated and blood-spattered.

Contents

Screenplay of “The Meaning of Life,” including scenes (“Martin Luther”) cut from final release; production photos; letters by John Cleese to Editors of The Sun.

The Making of

Just as the group had holed up on a Caribbean island to concentrate on writing the screenplay of “Life of Brian,” the Pythons set up camp on Jamaica to try to tackle a troublesome screenplay that – unlike “Holy Grail” and “Brian” – did not suggest a single narrative or central character. There was frustration, as each of the members of the group was already being pulled away by their own solo projects, and the difficulty of tying together the sketches they’d come up with over the course of a year led some to want to give up the movie project altogether.

Terry Jones was convinced that the material could work as a film. “It’s somebody’s life story,” he said as the group met one morning. “And then somebody said it could be anybody’s life story. And Eric said, ‘Yeah, we could call it ‘The Meaning of Life.’ That’s it! Just over that breakfast it suddenly came up. Somebody came up with the idea of ‘Let’s do the Seven Ages of Man,’ and then we knew where we were going.”

Critics were mixed on how the disparate sketches gelled together into a cohesive “Seven Ages of Man”-type framework, but the consensus was that “Meaning of Life” contains examples of Pythonic humor at its most uncompromising and outrageous.

Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20161106204038/http://www.montypython.com/book_Monty%20Python’s%20The%20Meaning%20of%20Life/36#LLPJgx3wAXEEtUDQ.99

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The Pythons Autobiography by The Pythons

“The Pythons Autobiography by The Pythons”

Editor: Bob McCabe
Designer: Harry Green
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (2003); Orion (2005 & 2014)
Publication Date: 
2003 (Hardcover); 2005 (Paperback); 2014 (Re-release)

An oral history of the Pythons (incorporating archive material of Graham Chapman), that is filled with more than 1,000 photos from the group’s archive, as well as from the Pythons’ personal collections.

Re-released with a new cover, in 2014, to celebrate the Pythons’ live shows at The O2, London.

Contents

Chapters include:

In Which the Pythons Meet the Pythons – Each of the six (Chapman is channeled from beyond the void) speaks at length about the other members of the group. Filled with “I first saw X at … ,” it proves the old adage that first impressions are often the truest ones. Each of the Pythons felt the others were “very, very funny,” “very good,” “very full of ideas,” or just “weird.”

In Which We Are Born – We get the origin stories for the six lads, from Eric Idle’s rough childhood following the death of his father, an RAF rear-gunner, in WWII; to the middle-class upbringings that landed Idle, Cleese, Chapman, Jones and Palin in the vaunted halls of Cambridge and Oxford; to the exotic foreign locales of Gilliam’s Minnesota and California hometowns.

In Which We Pretend to Grow Up – How a fine university education, studying law, medicine, history or literature, can land you in a career writing jokes.

“It’s …” – The beginning of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” how it turned the BBC on its ear, and how the Pythons conquered the worlds of television, records and stage – even trodding the same West End boards where “Camelot” had gone happy-ever-aftering.

In Which We All Become Starlets – The making of “Holy Grail,” “Life of Brian,” and “Meaning of Life,” and how the Pythons became, for four shining nights, Hollywood’s brightest stars.

The Meaning of Death – The difficulty when one-sixth of the group departs for good.

… And Beyond – Post-Graham, the remaining Pythons basked in adulation as comic icons, ruminated on pursuing solo vs. joint careers, and looked back at their remarkable achievement.

In addition to the Pythons, reminiscences are provided by Graham Chapman’s partner, David Sherlock, and Graham’s brother, John, and sister-in-law, Pam;

The plethora of photographs includes never-before seen pictures from the group’s childhoods, university days and early television appearances; behind-the-scenes photos from the Python TV series, films and stage shows; and rare cartoons and sketches by Terry Gilliam.

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The Very Best of Monty Python…

“The Very Best of Monty Python…”
Publisher: Eyre Methuen
Publication Date: 2006 (Paperback)

This anthology combines the material that had been selected by each of the Pythons for their respective “Pocketful of Python” volumes – pocket-sized hardcovers released in conjunction with the group’s 30th anniversary in 1999 (and which are now out of print).

Contents

“A Pocketful of Python: Picked by John Cleese” – Includes “Eric the Half a Bee”; (Miss) Anne Elk; Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson; “We Are Individuals!” from “Life of Brian”; Johann Gambolputty; and Word Association Football. Preface by Michael Palin.

“A Pocketful of Python: Picked by Terry Gilliam” – Includes “I’m So Worried”; Why Accountancy Is Not Boring; and “Stan’s Right to Have Babies” from “Life of Brian.” Preface by Eric Idle.

“A Pocketful of Python: Picked by Eric Idle” – Includes the Bruces’ “Philosophers Song”; “Mr. Cheeky” from “Life of Brian”; Chaos Theory Made Easy; The Film Rights to This Page Are Still Available; Silly Walks; Python Literary Guild; and “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” Preface by Terry Jones.

“A Pocketful of Python: Picked by Terry Jones” – Includes the Spam Sketch; “Every Sperm Is Sacred”; “The Lumberjack Song”; Albatross; and “Constitutional Peasants” from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Preface by Terry Gilliam.

“A Pocketful of Python: Picked by Michael Palin” – Includes the Cheese Shoppe; the “Penis Song”; the “Knights Who Say ‘Ni!'”; the Pirahna Brothers; and The All-England Summerize Proust Competition. Preface by John Cleese.

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Monty Python Live!

“Monty Python Live!”
Editor: Eric Idle
Art Editor: Steve Kirwan
Artwork: Terry Gilliam
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2009 (Hardcover/Paperback)

Edited by Eric Idle, this oral history of the Pythons’ stage shows in the U.K., Canada and the United States recaptures the “never-before-told story of six and a half men and a girl, on the road!”

Contents

In addition to the Pythons’ contributions, this oral history includes memories of Carol Cleveland and Neil Innes; promoter Tony Smith; U.S. manager Nancy Lewis; and others who witnessed or participated in the mania.

Included are transcripts of Hollywood Bowl Skits (Act I: The Llama; Gumby Flower Arranging; Michelangelo and the Pope; International Wrestling; Silly Olympics; World Forum; The Ministry of Silly Walks; The Bruces; Crunchy Frog; Travel Agent; Custard Pie. Act II: Sit On My Face; Camp Judges; Albatross; Nudge Nudge; Pepperpots; International Philosophy; Never Be Rude to an Arab; Argument Clinic; I’ve Got Two Legs; Four Yorkshiremen; Dead Parrot; Salvation Fuzz; The Lumberjack Song.

In Their Owns Words: The Pythons Recall Their Touring Years; Carol Cleveland FAQ; Python on Broadway; Great Moments in British Acting; “How to Be a Great Fucking Actor” by James Lipton Teabag.

Transcripts of Occasionally Performed Pieces (Anagrams; Bee Keeper; Children’s Story; Butcher’s Shop; Hungarian Phrasebook; The Dirty Fork; The Death of Mary, Queen of Scots; Hearing Aid; Ken Shabby; Michael Miles Game Show; Minister Falling to Pieces; Secret Service; Cocktail Bar; Undertaker; Blackmail; Courtroom; RAF Banter; Silly Election).

There is also a reproduction of the theatre programme (originally sold in flat sheets to be folded up Playbill-size).

Also included: Michael Palin’s 1976 Esquire article, “Python on Broadway”; “How to Be a Great Fucking Actor” by James Lipton Teabag; “Spot the Difference”; and a selection of titles available at a bookseller near you (such as “Spamma Mia!”).

The Making of

When the Pythons toured in the 1970s and ’80s, they were comedy rock stars – filling auditoriums with passionate fans who knew the skits as well (if not better) than they did and were dressed as though ready to jump on stage and join in.

In 1971, after the first two series of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” had gone out, the Pythons appeared in their first live show at the Lanchester Arts Festival, at Warwick University in Coventry. The response was so overwhelming that “Monty Python’s First Farewell Tour” made a lap around England in Spring 1973, before hopping across the Atlantic to Canada.

After a four-week run at London’s Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1974 (which netted a rambunctious record album), the Pythons took their stage show to New York’s City Center in 1976, and then, in 1980, to the Hollywood Bowl, playing before nightly crowds of 8,000.

“This book is about what greeted us when we left the sealed world of the BBC and ventured into the broader stage of live performing,” writes Eric Idle. “Suddenly we came face to face with a phenomenon: the monster power of television and its extraordinary ability to popularize.”

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