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!”
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.”