I could do with a good laugh, I thought, as I made my way to the Athenaeum Theatre on Friday evening to see the famous Monty Python member Eric Idle in conversation with Wheeler Centre Director, Michael Williams.
Eric Idle was in Australia promoting his recent “sortabiography” Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, and naturally the book was the focus of the conversation, with Eric Idle expanding apon his remarkable life story with many amusing reminiscenses. He was laugh out loud funny from the start, early on singing a wonderfully scathing song about Selfies which set the tone for the evening.
Along with many of my baby boomer contemporaries, I still fondly remember the original Monty Python shows on TV back in the 1960s, and the films that followed in the 1970s. I have a 1st edition copy of Monty Python’s Big Red Book (published 1971) in my book collection.
Monty Python, much to the surprise of the group, was a great success not only in Britain, but in America and Canada; particularly in Canada where fans would come to their live performances in crazy costumes, none more absurd, Eric said, than seeing the front row dressed as a giant caterpillar.
The conversation ranged from Eric’s early life where he spent 12 years in a boarding school/orphanage, through his years at Cambridge where the origins of Monty Python were conceived in the company of fellow comedians, several of whom ending up as members of the famous group, then on to his acting career in Monty Python films.
He made no big deal about his famous friends such as George Harrison and David Bowie, recalling his friendship with them affectionately, declaring that his two main passions in life were writing and playing the guitar.
It was a highly entertaining event which closed with Eric Idle singing Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, purportedly Britain’s favourite song to be sung at funerals.