Terry Gilliam: “Monty Python Have Sold Out”

The 'Monty Python' gang in 1969 (l-r: Terry Jones, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin. Pic: BBC)

The ‘Monty Python’ gang in 1969 (l-r: Terry Jones, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin. Pic: BBC)

While fans of the Monty Python team are excitedly looking forward to their reunion shows in London this July, it seems some of the performers are slightly less thrilled about the prospect than you may imagine. In fact, Terry Gilliam, the one with the least to do and the most to be getting on with outside of that familial atmosphere, is already talking about the shows—in the most jovial of terms—as if they’re a kind of mistake.

Talking to the Evening Standard, Terry expressed dismay that getting the old gang together appears to be entirely driven by one thing: money. Money and nostalgia. Money and nostalgia and a healthy sense of camaraderie between the five surviving members of the troupe. I’ll start again. Among the reasons for getting the troupe back together are such diverse concerns as money, nostalgia and the healthy sense of camaraderie between the five surviving members of the troupe, rather than a desire to make new ideas happen.

They’re not even spending a lot of time rehearsing, despite putting out videos like these:

“We know it. We’ve done it. There’s only a little bit of me in it anyway, which obviously isn’t fair… We have had a read-through and I tell you Mike Palin is the funniest Python by far; just a genius. Why he wastes his time on these boring travel shows I have no idea.”

Discussing the reasons for getting back together, which include some financial and legal trouble over Eric Idle’s Pythonic stage musical Spamalot, he pointed that while “there was John [Cleese] with his divorce payments and Terry Jones’s mortgage was a legitimate concern,” they hadn’t ever reunited for the cash before: “That’s why I thought we were really good. But in the end we sold out.”

And in a sense, the gang all pulling together to help each other out of the mire is counterproductive to the mutual antagonism that used to power their work: “It’s good, seeing each other again, but then you realize that we’re not as sharp because we like each other more. Probably. There’s none of the tension that existed before, which was what seemed to fuel the stuff.

“It’s harder to do comedy now anyway: we’re older, we’ve become the Establishment we took the p*** out of… Actually, the truth is I find it depressing that we’re getting back together again. It’s like, we worked so hard to get careers beyond it, to get to this stage, and now we’re being dragged back again.”

And what’s worse, dragged away from his own projects: “It’s too big a year of work. I’m not going to survive it. With any luck, the Python shows will be cancelled.”

There again, if he’s worried that they’re not grumpy enough with each other to make the shows funny, this outburst alone should ensure a laugh riot.

See more:
‘Monty Python’s Final Circus Gets Global Cinema Release
Monty Python Update: One Show! Five Shows! Ten Shows!
WATCH: How Modern Movie Trailers Would Market Monty Python’s ‘Holy Grail’
And Now For Something Incompletely Different…

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser is a British writer, broadcaster and the the author of the book Stuff Brits Like. He is Anglophenia's resident Brit blogger, having written BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog, the Top of the Pops website, and for NME, the Guardian and elsewhere. Favorite topics include slang, Doctor Who and cramming as much music into Anglophenia as he can manage. He invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic
View all posts by Fraser McAlpine.