Monty Python’s Golden Anniversary! …less 10 years

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

With the Pythons’ 50th 40th anniversary upon us, I thought it might be a good time to ignore everything they accomplished together and instead focus on their abysmal failures career highlights.

RutlesEric Idle
The money-grubbing, do-anything-for-attention opportunist has been anything but idle (zing!) as of late. Eric’s latest quick-buck schemes include his two live shows, “Eric’s Greedy Bastard Tour”—now there’s truth in advertising!—and “Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy),” not to mention his megahit play “Spamalot.” In addition to these latest debacles is his roster of (admittedly dodgy) films from over the years which include:
The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash (1978) and The Rutles 2: Can’t Buy Me Lunch (2002): Idle’s mockumentary send-up of the Beatles, starring himself as Dirk, one of the Prefab Four;
The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen (1989): The daring exploits of the world-class yarn-spinner;
Nuns On The Run (1990): What’s funnier than guys dressed as nuns in peril? (a lot, apparently);
An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (1998): …um, …yes …moving on quickly;
Ella Enchanted (2004): Some Python references slyly incorporated into this delightful tale narrated by Eric.
Shrek The Third (2007): Not really necessary, was it?
Fun Fact: While the other Pythons paired up when writing Monty Python’s Flying Circus (MPFC), Eric wrote alone. Probably because of his offensive body odor, halitosis and incessant flatulence.

FawltyJohn Cleese
J.C. is the most recognizable of the Pythons, if only because he’s six-foot-six and eats punks like you for breakfast! But it might also be because he’s appeared U.S. television shows such as Will & Grace, MadTV, Third Rock from the Sun and Cheers. You might also have heard of an obscure Britcom called Fawlty Towers (1975-79) that he wrote and starred in. He’s appeared in several notable films as well, the most popular of which are:
Clockwise (1986): School headmaster obsessed with punctuality finds, much to his chagrin, that time is NOT on his side;
A Fish Called Wanda (1988): A tale of murder, lust, greed, revenge and seafood;
The Human Face (2001): John mugs for the camera hosting this documentary about guess what?;
Shrek 2 (2004): John tries to have Shrek assassinated. That’s vintage John, always the killjoy.
Fun Fact: John’s real last name is Cheese. His real first name is Cheddar (ok, that’s a lie).

New-EuropeMichael Palin
Michael is known as the nicest Python. Which is to say that he’s dull, and that being associated with MPFC would be the last notable thing he ever did in his life. Well, there’ve been a few more interesting things that he’s done. He’s travelled a bit, documenting his journeys in the TV programs Full Circle with Michael Palin (1997), Michael Palin’s Hemingway Adventure (1999), Michael Palin: Himalaya (2004), New Europe (2007), and Around the World in 20 Years (2008). Films of note include:
Jabberwocky (1977): “Beware the Jabberwock, my son!” Really, beware;
The Missionary (1982): An apt position, indeed, for Michael portraying a reverend returning from Africa and finding his new assignment is ministering to prostitutes;
A Private Function (1984): Michael steals a pig, acts hammy. Audiences squeal with laughter.
Fun Fact: Michael’s a prolific traveller, writes abundantly, and is regarded as the most natural actor of the Pythons. Still dull though, poor chap.

Ripping YarnsTerry Jones
Arguably the Pythons’ driving force, Terry Jones was the brains behind the outfit, if you will. Accordingly, the others assigned him to play Mr. Creosote in The Meaning Of Life so his immense body could finally be in proportion to his swelled head. Since he can’t act worth his salt he’s mostly taken to writing & directing. Early on he co-wrote (with Michael Palin) the Ripping Yarns (1976-79) TV series. Notable forays into film include:
Labyrinth (1986): Terry writes for muppets. A definite step up for him;
The Crusades (1995): His degree in Modern History be damned, Terry instead delves into medieval times, writing/hosting this documentary;
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (1996): Silliness for kids and adults alike, as Terry rewrites “The Wind in the Willows” in his own inimitable style.
Fun Fact: …sorry, none. Terry’s just not fun.

BrazilTerry Gilliam
Terry was the animator for MPFC. Nowadays, the other Pythons fondly recall his contributions as spanning the gamut from minimal to non-existent. But he has the last laugh by having created the most successful films since they disbanded. Some of his directorial highlights are:
Time Bandits (1981): Gilliam rips off Bill & Ted’s excellent time-skipping adventure. Or is it the other way around?
Brazil (1985): Not at all about Brazil. Shameful;
12 Monkeys (1995): Bruce Willis is sent back in time to prevent a virus from knocking out 99% of human population;
Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (1998): Spectacularly, Gilliam films Hunter S. Thompson’s “unfilmable” book;
And, of course, his abandoned project, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, which is the focus of the documentary entitled Lost In La Mancha (2002).
Fun Fact: In high school Terry was Head Cheerleader, King of the Senior Prom, Student Body President and Valedictorian. In Python he was known as the Least Important One, the Ugly One, the Other Terry and, simply, Who?

Graham Chapman: Looks Like A Brown Trouser JobGraham Chapman
Graham is dead. Still. So no more movies from him, then. However, you can pretend he’s alive when watching Monty Python’s Graham Chapman: Looks Like A Brown Trouser Job (2005), a collection of hysterical bits from his 1988 United States college tours.
Fun Fact: Graham was a raging alcoholic, smoker, homosexual, cancer victim and millionaire. Lucky bastard.

Oh, ok. If you must know here’s a brief run-down of their exploits together:
Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969-74) brought these fresh-faced lads fame & fortune, minus the fortune (they worked for the BBC, you know).
And Now For Something Completely Different (1971) was a blatant rehash of their best skits from the TV series, hastily produced for American filmgoers not yet familiar with Python. To this day everybody loves it! And when we say everybody, we mean nobody.
Monty Python And The Holy Grail (1975)—or, as the Pythons remember it: “A Long, Cold, Wet Slog”—saw the gang’s first “proper” move from the small screen to the Silver Screen, and from fame to Fame+Fortune.
Monty Python’s Life Of Brian (1979) followed. They will all burn in hell for this one.
And, lastly, in Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life (1983) they finally got around to answering all of life’s big questions. Sometimes even correctly.

They also appear in multiple compilation videos such as The Life Of Python, Monty Python Live!, and the upcoming six-part, six-hours-of-your-life-you’ll-never-get-back, Monty Python: Almost the Truth: The Lawyer’s Cut (yet another philistine attempt at reviving their languishing careers).