Monty Python: Almost the Truth
I have been in a Monty Python-induced state of silliness nirvana over the last few days. IFC is showing a 6-part documentary, Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer’s Cut), on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the six guys getting together to create some of the funniest, most irreverent and of course, the most parroted comedy sketches of all time.
There is always a danger of such documentaries to turn into a fluff idolating piece. However, this series (so far) has not shied away from some of the controversies among the group members. Part three had interview footage of Chapman where he talks openly about his coming out and his troubles with alcohol and how that affected his relationship with the other members.
But on the whole, the documentary offers some delightful insights; tracing the evolution of the group, from the social background of each member, through their Oxbridge revue experiences (or comic-book writing at Occidental College in the case of Terry Gilliam), early work on the Frost Report and how Monty Python’s Flying Circus came into being, quite by chance. The best bits are when they talk about how some of the most iconic sketches came about, e.g the Lumberjack Song, which was apparently thought up in just 20 minutes at the end of a day only so that they could segue from the Barber Sketch.
Later episodes cover the tumultuous making of the Holy Grail, and the famous interview of Cleese and Palin with Malcolm Muggeridge in response to the religious backlash against their supposed blasphemous depiction of Christ in Life of Brian. There are also tributes by current British comedians, actors and writers and other who have been influenced by the Pythons (including some interesting snippets with Sanjeev Bhaskar – of The Kumar’s at No 42 fame – who talks about how his desi parents really disapproved of him watching a show where men dressed up as women, till they learn that all these actors went to Oxford and Cambridge).
In short, a must watch for any Python fan.
And of course, the post cannot be complete without linking- so here goes the Philosopher’s song, well suited to singing at the top of your voice after downing a few pints.
Speaking of a few pints, before they sang it during their Hollywood Bowl show, Eric Idle quipped:
We find your American beer like making love in a canoe. It’s f$%king close to water.