Author Topic: Eric Idle  (Read 8957 times)

Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #90 on: October 05, 2018, 09:39:46 AM »
so which to go for out of Gilliam, Cleese and Chapman?

Chapman.

Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #91 on: October 05, 2018, 09:47:01 AM »
Chapman's is fucking bonkers if I remember it rightly.

Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #92 on: October 05, 2018, 09:55:24 AM »
Yep. It's tremendous fun though.

#larryduff

Maurice Yeatman

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Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #93 on: October 05, 2018, 10:53:15 AM »
Come on, Idle is obviously joking.

Only in the sense that he's trying to be funny. I don't think it's a knowing nod to it having been said thousands of times already.

Reading this now and it's easily the worst of the Python autobiographies, shallow stuff of the type Idle himself would once have parodied: "We were having drinks with George Harrison and his wife Olivia in David Bowie's holiday home in the south of France when who should pop by but Jeff Lynne, Jack Nicholson, Carrie Fisher, Henry Kissinger, the Pope, etc, etc."

To be fair, he also mentions Robin Ince.

Quote
But for the most avowedly literary of the Pythons, his prose is turgid and the content unrevealing.

E.g. He avoids something "like the plague", and there's nothing about his falling out with Neil Innes.

I don't think it's a particularly bad book though, but it reads like a rush job. I shouldn't have got my hopes up for something more iconoclastic.

Revelator

  • "In summary then, Oh no."
Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #94 on: October 11, 2018, 10:27:29 PM »
Just finished Idle's book yesterday (a day after seeing him in conversation with Dave Eggers in San Francisco). I don't agree that the prose is turgid; the book was a very fast read. It's just facile, like the book in general. As feared, there's far too much starfuckery, though his relationship with George Harrison does come off as a genuine friendship. The opening chapters are the best, before all the famous people come in, and left me wanting more about his pre-Python career and first years of creating comedy. Cleese's autobiography dwelled on such areas because they are fresher material than the Python years, which have been picked clean.

The general public will probably enjoy the book--whatever its faults it's not dull and every page has its share of anecdotes and wordplay--but Python devotees and students of comedy will be disappointed by its conventionality. Idle dutifully covers his entire life, and rarely in a reflective way. Nor does he have much to say about the nature and mechanics of comedy. His personal life is very slightly more revealing--he admits to being an asshole and literally screwing up his first marriage. His affection for his second (current) wife Tania gives the book its most human passages.

Maurice Yeatman

  • His Reverence won't like it
Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #95 on: October 11, 2018, 11:58:30 PM »
His affection for his second (current) wife Tania gives the book its most human passages.
And there's a photo in the middle of the book where you can almost see Tania's human passage.

Revelator

  • "In summary then, Oh no."
Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #96 on: October 16, 2018, 07:40:43 PM »
Fair and accurate review in the Times:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/review-always-look-on-the-bright-side-of-life-a-sortabiography-by-eric-idle-a-far-from-idle-celebrity-schmoozer-mpdjcbrjk

Not sure how accessible it is, so here's the whole thing:

Review: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography by Eric Idle — a far from idle celebrity schmoozer

The Python remains an enigma amid the name-dropping, says Dominic Maxwell

Eric Idle always came across as the perkiest of the Monty Python team and the hardest to pin down. With his hyper-verbal routines, his jauntily philosophical songs — the one that gives its name to this memoir is Britain’s most requested tune at funerals, he enthuses — and his rock’n’roll friendships with George Harrison, the Rolling Stones and David Bowie, it has long been hard to know what defines him.

Halfway through this half-delightful, half-infuriating book, he admits as much himself. The 75-year-old is what is known in his adoptive Los Angeles as a hyphenate. “I write, act, sing, perform, direct, produce and generally show off in all sorts of desperate ways.” He asked his wife once what she thought he did best. “Well,” she said, “‘you’re very good at dinner.”

And that, for better and for worse, is what we get in this very consumable life story of the most showbizzy, most doggedly name-dropping Python. Idle in dinner-party mode. Idle holding court about the good and the bad times he has had. And, more than we need him to, the famous friends he has had them with.

John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, with whom he started conquering the world almost 50 years ago, in 1969, don’t count in that camp. They crop up throughout, as you expect and want them to. Idle knows there are many other footprints on this terrain — “I honestly think there are more hours of documentary about Python than there are hours of Python” — but still offers some fresh, cogent analysis of their success.

They became legends, he says, partly because of their complementary talents, but also because they were in the right place at the right time. Culturally and technologically. They didn’t do topical material. They were in colour and on video right from the off. Which means they haven’t dated as they might have. Plus the BBC, not knowing what to do with them, shrugged and told them to go away and make 13 half-hour shows. Those were the days. “We didn’t know what we were doing, and insisted on doing it.”

Yet there is also fraternal rivalry within the Pythons, a longing for acceptance by the other Pythons, at which he only hints. When they turn up on Broadway for the first night of Spamalot, his musical version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, their presence “made the evening” for him. Cleese and Chapman wrote together; Palin and Jones wrote together; Gilliam did the animations. Which left Idle a lone voice in the writers’ room. No wonder, perhaps, his closest rock-star mate is Harrison, who mortgages his house to finance Life of Brian.

“He visited us on the set in Tunisia and when he asked me how it was going I grumpily muttered something about how between John and Michael it was difficult getting on screen. He said, ‘Imagine what it was like with Lennon and McCartney trying to get studio time.’ Say no more.”

Actually, catchphrases aside, you would love him to say more about how he feels about things. He starts well on that front, telling us about the tragic but ironic death of his father in 1945 when Idle was two. Having spent four years in a bomber for the RAF, Idle senior died while hitchhiking home for Christmas. His mother became depressed, sent Eric away to his granny for a while, then to a Dickensian RAF school for orphans in Wolverhampton. “If one of the best ways to appreciate life is to have an unhappy childhood,” he writes, “I was very fortunate.”

He paints a vivid picture of his harsh, abusive, Victorian-style schooldays and alludes to their lingering effect while always zeroing in on the funny side. He is good on his early success, going from the Cambridge Footlights to becoming a precociously successful writer-performer in Swinging London who swings a fair bit himself, even after his first marriage. “Fame went to my balls . . . Was I becoming an asshole? I’m afraid so . . .”

The book gets less interesting after Python makes it big in America and Idle detours into detailing his larks with his celebrity chums. Each of these stories is fine. Taken consecutively they become a kind of Hello! magazine of the Seventies showbiz jet set. It’s easy to read yet curiously hollow. When his mother turns up again on page 115, you hadn’t realised she was still alive.

So, OK, modesty is not his default setting and his celeb-heavy way of telling his story is a conscious choice. “I have met many people in my life and, sadly, many of them were not famous . . . I’m not writing about them because you don’t know who the hell they are.” The feeling still persists of Idle being unnecessarily keen to impress, clogging things up with too many tales of his being accepted by the entertainment elite. After a while we want to know more of what makes Idle tick, not where he went on holiday — even if Art Garfunkel does pop by on his motorbike; even if James Dyson lives round the corner.

And if this all connects to his childhood, to losing his father, he wouldn’t want to bore us by forcing the point. He is an entertainer to his gut. He has no time for people who try to elevate the Pythons by comparing them to Dadaists, to high art. “For me, Python has always been about the comedy. That is the art. The Footlights motto is ars est celare artem. ‘The art lies in concealing the art.’ ” It’s only a shame that you close the book feeling Idle’s art lies in concealing himself as much as it does in revealing himself.

Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #97 on: December 30, 2018, 03:57:58 AM »
I saw Cleese and Idle in Florida in 2015 and wrote this review:

Python's appeal to Americans still makes Cleese uneasy, because the Yanks' love of Python is not based on why the series worked in Britain. Cleese perhaps feels that Americans laugh at Python for the "wrong" reasons. He lost it at one point last night by snarking at the audience for cheering the mention of any familiar names, like Pavlov's Dogs. However, this tension made the evening far more interesting than I had anticipated.

The Undertakers Sketch* is still incredibly radical, like a Samuel Beckett play in miniature. I believe that hardly any Americans have ever seen it, given that it was not on the tapes shown in the US in the 1970s due to being presumed lost between 1970 and the mid-80s.

Sit On My Face and Philosophers' Song still feel absolutely contemporary for this age. I think it would be a great idea for Idle to add "One Foot In The Grave" given that many of the audience members fitted that condition. Idle has sometimes been portrayed as the most insecure Python (I think that's how Palin depicts him in his diaries) because he had a shorter CV when the series started and was writing solo rather than as one of a pair (Cleese/Chapman, Palin/Jones), but I think the post-Python years have given him the most authority as the group's "curator".

When Cleese relaxes, he still has the wit and charisma of a great speaker, and can hold an audience in his palm (as it were). I'd like to see Idle do more than just "the support role plus songs." Idle's improvisations can sometimes be awesomely funny and original, from left field, and he can surpass Cleese in that respect. I'd like to see a lot more of that aspect if Eric and John ever return to these parts.

*Cleese said the sketch was in Series 3 but it is actually in Series 2

St_Eddie

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Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #98 on: December 30, 2018, 09:51:43 AM »
I saw Cleese and Idle in Florida in 2015...

Never saw Spielberg in Chinatown though, did you?

Top Trumps.

Pavlov's Dogs.

Good boys.

Elderly Sumo Prophecy

  • it made more sense in my head i don't know
Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #99 on: December 30, 2018, 05:32:01 PM »
There's a quote in that Times article where he uses the word "asshole", presumably without a hint of irony or self awareness. Arsehole.

Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #100 on: December 30, 2018, 09:31:29 PM »

The Undertakers Sketch* is still incredibly radical, like a Samuel Beckett play in miniature. I believe that hardly any Americans have ever seen it, given that it was not on the tapes shown in the US in the 1970s due to being presumed lost between 1970 and the mid-80s.


I can't speak for the 70s (I saw some of the shows then - including the infamous "Choreographed Party Political Broadcast" - but don't recall having seen s2 e13 at the time), but it's been in wide distribution stateside for at least 35 years, so any proper Python fan over here has surely seen the thing. And, of course, it was the closing track on the second Python album, which was released in the States before the show ever played here, so it's far from unknown. If I may be pedantic over a three-year-old review.

Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #101 on: December 30, 2018, 09:57:37 PM »
There's a quote in that Times article where he uses the word "asshole", presumably without a hint of irony or self awareness. Arsehole.

40 years in LA will do that to a Wolvo.

Elderly Sumo Prophecy

  • it made more sense in my head i don't know
Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #102 on: February 11, 2019, 05:00:54 PM »
I've just finished his sortabiography, (a difficult task- it was very hard to pick up) and it confirmed a suspicion I've long held that Eric Idle is a cunt.

Ballad of Ballard Berkley

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Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #103 on: February 11, 2019, 06:01:57 PM »
I haven't read the book yet, why does it confirm your suspicion?

Elderly Sumo Prophecy

  • it made more sense in my head i don't know
Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #104 on: February 11, 2019, 06:14:13 PM »
Well, as previously stated by people, there's great swathes of name dropping, often without context. That would be alright if it was just every now and again, but it was often pages and pages of it.
There was also an almost complete lack of introspection about himself, apart from a bit at the end, which I found rather strange in a book based entirely on himself.
He doesn't like all the supposedly "negative" aspects of fame, such as people asking for selfies in expensive restaurants, so it just seemed like he wants his cake, and he wants to eat the bastard too.
I dunno, my issues with him and his book have been described far more eloquently in the reviews you can read online.
Maybe cunt was a bit too much though. "Asshole" definitely though, a word he uses at least a dozen times throughout the book, seemingly with no self awareness.

Edit: I think that's actually the longest post I've made on here. I should stick to just shitposting like usual.

Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #105 on: February 11, 2019, 06:18:05 PM »
"Asshole" definitely though, a word he uses at least a dozen times throughout the book, seemingly with no self awareness.

American publisher?
Could have been proofed by them.

Not that I want to be making excuses for the cunt...

Elderly Sumo Prophecy

  • it made more sense in my head i don't know
Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #106 on: February 11, 2019, 06:22:09 PM »
Honestly reading it, I'm not sure if it's been edited at all. It's quite stream of consciousness. Also at least 60 pages too long.

Ballad of Ballard Berkley

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Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #107 on: February 11, 2019, 06:54:56 PM »
Edit: I think that's actually the longest post I've made on here. I should stick to just shitposting like usual.

And it was greatly appreciated. That sounds sarcastic, but it isn't. Thanks for taking the time to reply, I really don't think I'll bother with this book.

Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #108 on: February 11, 2019, 07:16:13 PM »
I quite liked the 2 Idle interviews I saw/heard last year - WTF and Jonathan Ross. There's some overlap of unfunny anecdotes regarding royalty.

However, if you'd like to see an awkward moment involving him I suggest watching The Meaning of Live documentary. Idle and Brian Cox are filming a Stephen Hawking skit at Cambridge on campus and a group of ladies come past on some punts and scream out Brian's name like its Beatlemania. Of course, they don't recognise Idle and he makes a face, I think it might be fury but it's hard to tell.

That doc and the Don Quixote movie are also real proof that the Pythons and Gilliam really don't know what made their earlier work so great. Which I find sad. 

Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #109 on: February 11, 2019, 08:00:08 PM »
Idle was always my least favourite Python, if only because he always seemed to be the loudest one, the one who put on the daft voices and played to the crowd the most. He seemed to be the most obvious one, I suppose, making up with gestures and smirks what he lacked in wit. He reminded me of the kid at school who’s single comedic strength is being noisy but everybody finds them hilarious. As I’ve got older I’ve minded him less and I can see he’s a much cleverer performer than that, I think it says more about my insecurities as a teenager than it does about his ability.

But I still can’t take to those fucking songs, I’ve never been a fan of musical comedy but I can stand the odd one here and there, Python has too many for me though. It always seemed like the others wrote the rest of the show and then went ‘right, we’d better let Eric put one of his fucking songs in here or he’ll see his arse’.

And Splitting Heirs was shite.

Brundle-Fly

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Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #110 on: February 11, 2019, 08:14:00 PM »
I thought his MPFC monologues (and most of his songs) were brilliant and loved Rutland Weekend Television. Free pass from me. People always put the boot into Idle as if he's the Mike Love of The Pythons. They're all 'assholes'. Even Palin. Wouldn't have it any other way.

Bennett Brauer

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Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #111 on: February 11, 2019, 08:18:31 PM »
Agreed. The Neil Innes unpleasantness is something that still nags a lot of us, but I don't think about that when I'm marvelling at his performance in the travel agent sketch - especially the Drury Lane version. So one and a half thumbs up from me.

The book is disappointing, but not completely dreadful. Going fairly cheap in The Works right now.

Elderly Sumo Prophecy

  • it made more sense in my head i don't know
Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #112 on: February 11, 2019, 09:41:55 PM »
And it was greatly appreciated. That sounds sarcastic, but it isn't. Thanks for taking the time to reply, I really don't think I'll bother with this book.

It's worth an anger read. You could read a chapter, put it down, then shake your fist at it and go "Grrrr".

Ballad of Ballard Berkley

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Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #113 on: February 11, 2019, 10:22:25 PM »
It's worth an anger read. You could read a chapter, put it down, then shake your fist at it and go "Grrrr".

I don't want to feel angry at Idle, though, he was an absolutely brilliant writer and performer in his day. I'd rather just remember him that way.

Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #114 on: February 11, 2019, 11:51:48 PM »
I saw him in a Mexican restaurant the other day.  He looked fat and depressed, and fat as well.

Yeah, he's my least favorite Python (I'm probably one of the few who thinks the musical numbers are the worst aspect of the movies) and it feels like he would have been more at home in another group entirely.  But it is what it is.

Ballad of Ballard Berkley

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Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #115 on: February 12, 2019, 12:32:42 AM »
Idle was perfectly at home in Python, his absurd sense of humour and wordy monologues/sketches are an essential part of their overall 'voice'.

I really like his songs too. It may be overplayed, but Always Look on The Bright Side of Life is such a perfect way of ending Life of Brian. A ludicrously cheerful, Anthony Newley-style musical number sung by a bunch of blokes being agonisingly crucified. It's funny.

The Rutles: All You Need is Cash is also one of the greatest parodies of all time (Neil Innes deserves a massive amount of credit for that too, of course). He was great, yer Eric Idles, Python wouldn't be Python without him.

Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #116 on: February 12, 2019, 12:39:17 AM »
Did he have a "wafer thin mint" after his quesadilla?

Brundle-Fly

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Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #117 on: February 12, 2019, 12:40:21 AM »
Idle was perfectly at home in Python, his absurd sense of humour and wordy monologues/sketches are an essential part of their overall 'voice'.

I really like his songs too. It may be overplayed, but Always Look on The Bright Side of Life is such a perfect way of ending Life of Brian. A ludicrously cheerful, Anthony Newley-style musical number sung by a bunch of blokes being agonisingly crucified. It's funny.

The Rutles: All You Need is Cash is also one of the greatest parodies of all time (Neil Innes deserves a massive amount of credit for that too, of course). He was great, yer Eric Idles, Python wouldn't be Python without him.

This.

Brundle-Fly

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Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #118 on: February 12, 2019, 12:42:34 AM »
I saw him in a Mexican restaurant the other day.  He looked fat and depressed, and fat as well.

He is 75 years old. Give him a break, Noodles.

Bennett Brauer

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Re: Eric Idle
« Reply #119 on: February 12, 2019, 12:45:47 AM »
And it is awfully nice to have a penis.