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An Idle Evening with Eric

The brilliant comedian, Eric Idle, of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, appeared—with the superb comic actor, David Hyde Pierce—on the evening of Wednesday, October 3rd, at Symphony Space, to discuss his new memoir, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography. (Pierce commented that the book, like Eric Idle, came out the day before, to the latter’s amusement.) Pierce had played Idle’s character of Brave Sir Robin (“he bravely ran away”) from Monty Python and the Holy Grail in the hit Broadway adaptation, Spamalot, and Idle had appeared once in the enormously popular television series, Frasier, which co-starred Pierce and secured his fame.
Idle began by singing a song condemning “selfies” and then read the chapter, “Crucifixion”, from his book, in which we learned that in the celebrated final scene of The Life of Brian, when Idle and Graham Chapman were hanging from crosses, they had their pants around their ankles. Idle commented that coincidentally, he was born on his birthday and complained about ten years at an English public school, remarking “you get less time for murder.”
At Cambridge University in 1963, Idle acted in a comic sketch written by John Cleese. He talked about the liberating effect of seeing Beyond the Fringe in London’s West End and then sang “The Philosophers Song” from Monty Python at the Hollywood Bowl.
He explained that Holy Grail was largely financed by rock bands such as Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, who were Python fans. George Harrison mortgaged his home to fund the production of Brian—Idle later sang a pirate song that he wrote with the ex-Beatle—and Elvis Presley was also an ardent admirer of the troupe. For Monty Python and the Meaning of Life, the artists didn’t show the studio a script but only a bawdy poem describing the film.
Michael Palin told Idle’s second wife to act surprised on his wedding night, which he said was the best piece of advice he’d ever received. He then sang “Sit on My Face and Tell Me That You Love Me” which he said he wanted sung at his funeral. He also said he devoted a chapter to Robin Williams with whom he was close friends since the 1980s. The program concluded with Idle performing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”, the closing song from Brian; he received a standing ovation.

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