It’s… Monty Python’s Flying Circus

April 20, 2008

As some of you know, I am a big Monty Python fan. Back in 2003, during the Diary-X days, I posted an entry about my love of all things Python. Because of the recent Spamalot mentions, I am going to re-post the entry, sans photos because I don’t have the energy or inclination to go digging for them.


I was around 18 years old when I first became aware of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. My father was channel surfing, and stopped when he came to the PBS station. He remarked that he had heard about this program, and it was supposed to be funny, so we watched it. The only thing I can recall about that particular episode was a photograph of a tree accompanied by someone repeating the words “the LARCH” over and over. I thought to myself, “How bizarre.”

Before long, I had developed an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope. No, wait! That’s from the Spanish Inquisition skit. What I had developed was an almost fanatical devotion to Monty Python. Without fail, I could be found in front of the television set every Sunday night at 10:30, rapt with attention. Oh, how they made me laugh! Oh, how I swooned over Michael Palin!

A couple of years later, I sent a fan letter to my favorite Python member, and was beside myself with joy when he responded. The letter reads:

January 15, 1975

Dear Stephanie,

Thanks so much for your letter – I am sorry it’s taken me so long to get around to answering it. We are still very surprised and even more pleased at the success of Monty Python in the U.S. For some reason the response of Americans, like yourself, to the show has been much warmer and more wholehearted than it ever was in England. I was brought up on American entertainment – from Danny Kaye movies right through to Duane Eddy!- and instead of reacting against this influence, it always left me with a curiosity and a sort of frightened fondness for the U.S. So it’s doubly nice, now I’ve outgrown Danny Kaye & Duane Eddy, to be able to give something back.

Long may you continue to enjoy Python – and thank you for your nice words about me – for that you have won yourself a real picture from the Chamber of Horrors!
Keep laughing, or giggling at least.

Your friend,
Michael Palin

P.S. We are, hopefully – and it’s not definite yet, at the City Center in New York for 3 weeks from April 11th. If you want any more information about Python in the U.S., our American address is 120 Central Park South, New York, N.Y. 10019

The news about the appearance at the City Center was received with a great deal of excitement. As soon as I heard that the show was definitely on, I bought tickets to not one, but two performances, both of which I attended with my sisters. Before the first show (we had arrived quite early), we went to the stage door to see if we could catch a glimpse of the Python troupe. John Cleese came out, and after making a suitable fuss over him, we begged him to go get Michael Palin. He did it!

When Michael came out, my sister Patti sighed, “I love you,” then added, “But, she loves you even more,” pointing to me. Michael responded by saying I deserved a kiss for that, and proceeded to plant one right smack on my lips. What a thrill that was!

Next, Graham Chapman arrived in a taxicab. We also got to meet Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam. Shortly after that, Terry Jones came to the door and chatted with us. We were stunned when he invited us inside. He let us in, and then locked the door on the less fortunate fans. We stood in a hallway, talking to him and the others for a while. They were so nice to us. I’ll never forget that day, or their generosity of spirit.

Another fond Python memory is my very first viewing of the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail (which I have since watched at least 20 times). My cousin, my sister, Michele, and I went to a drive-in theater to see the film. The occasion was so noteworthy I commemorated it by snapping a photo of my movie mates standing in front of the marquee.


So, you can see why missing Spamalot is such a big deal to me. I can only hope that the opportunity will repeat itself when I’m in better health.

Song of the Day: Always Look on the Bright Side from Spamalot (and Life of Brian)

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the best…

And…always look on the bright side of life…
Always look on the light side of life…

If life seems jolly rotten
There’s something you’ve forgotten
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you’re feeling in the dumps
Don’t be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle – that’s the thing.

And…always look on the bright side of life…
Always look on the light side of life…

For life is quite absurd
And death’s the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow.
Forget about your sin – give the audience a grin
Enjoy it – it’s your last chance anyhow.

So always look on the bright side of death
Just before you draw your terminal breath

Life’s a piece of shit
When you look at it
Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true.
You’ll see it’s all a show
Keep ’em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you.

And always look on the bright side of life…
Always look on the right side of life…
(Come on guys, cheer up!)
Always look on the bright side of life…
Always look on the bright side of life…
(Worse things happen at sea, you know.)
Always look on the bright side of life…
(I mean – what have you got to lose?)
(You know, you come from nothing – you’re going back to nothing.
What have you lost? Nothing!)
Always look on the right side of life…

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14 Responses to “It’s… Monty Python’s Flying Circus”

  1. LA said

    They sang that at Graham’s memorial service and it was the most wonderful/the most awful laugh.

    And you! Another round of Miss Steph hangs with the Stars. Just think of all these famous folk sitting around going, “WOW! We met Miss Steph!” ~LA

  2. yaketyyak said

    LA – I also met (and kissed) Elton John! True story!

  3. Pam L said

    We love Python in our house. My kids grew up being able to recite from The Holy Grail (Bring out your dead ! **BANG**)the Knights that go Nee! and the prospect of killer bunnies and various other films and the show; The Larch! was one of my favorites, along with the bits like the Dead Parrot,The Lumberjack Song etc. . Did you see the reunion special they did from Aspen, I think? where they had Graham Chapmans’ ashes, supposedly, in and urn on the able and they kept knocking it over. I also love Fawlty Towers -Basil! Basil! Too funny.

  4. sasha said

    This was a very awesome entry, Stephanie! I’ve been a fan since high school. 🙂

  5. goatbarnwitch said

    Don’t get me started on Python. I have way too much of that stored in my head and folks often think I am completely batty when it starts leaking out of my mouth. Funniest stuff ever!

  6. kitchenlogic said

    We love the Python big time around here. And I can’t help but find ways to use my favorite line from Life of Brian: “He’s not the Messiah! He’s a very naughty boy!”

  7. Amy said

    OMG, I totally had a crush on Michael Palin, too!

  8. I found Monty Python when I was in high school…my brother started watching and I got hooked. I used to be able to recite skits verbatim but my old m9ind has forgotten most. When I hear them though…they all come back. I am so sorry you are sick and have to miss Spamalot. A couple of years ago I was so sick during spring break..I slept through almost all of it and it stunk! Hope you are feeling better soon and hope you can catch Spamalot soon. I too was thinking of all the celebs you have met Steph…so cool!

  9. chaosdaily said

    The Holy Grail was a classic, and the Flying Circus was totally awesome! I’m so jealous you got to meet them all!!

  10. LeAnn said

    I feel left out. I have tried to appreciate Monty Python but have never been able to do so. What’s wrong with me??!! I love that Michael Palin wrote you a personal letter and that you had the experience of visiting with them all backstage. I’m sure Spamalot is in your future. You just didn’t go this time, but you will!! I just know it!!

  11. Awww, damn! I guess performers WERE different in the 70s! I’ve heard similar stories about Argent, Russ Ballard, and (oddly enough) the 3 Stooges. I can’t imagine someone doing that now without having you sign something, confiscating your camera (or camera phone) at the door, or having buttloads of guards. Neat-o!

    The bad thing is that there aren’t that many episodes! Imagine if it were a US show (or, rather, don’t…we tend to run things into the ground) there’d be at least twice as many episodes!

  12. Sharon said

    I’m a big Python fan also. The Lumberjack Song is the ringtone on my cell phone right now and whenever it rings, I can’t help but sing along.

  13. Stefani said

    Wow, you people are fanatics! 🙂 I almost skipped this entry because – don’t stone me – Python’s not my thing. But this was a great entry! I’m always shocked at how easily you rub shoulders with celebrities, Stephanie! Most people don’t even try – but look where it gets you. I’m very happy for you. I hope there’s another Spamalot opportunity in your future.

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