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Hear Monty Python strangle John Denver
06:22 am


Monty Python
John Denver

Original pressings of Monty Python’s Contractual Obligation Album included a 15-second track called “Farewell to John Denver,” in which the late poet laureate of Colorado sings a line of “Annie’s Song” before he is strangled to death. In the Pythons’ defense, Denver begs in the lyrics: “let me drown in your laughter, let me die in your arms” (though he does not, as far as I can tell, come on Annie’s pillow).

The track was removed from the album when Denver sued the Pythons for unauthorized use of his song. Terry Jones replaced it with a stammering apology to the listener titled “Omitted on Legal Advice.”

The item which follows has been omitted on legal advice. Uh, once again we apologize for that pause in the record which was owing to the, uh, original item being omitted on legal advice. However, I’m pleased to say we can now go on with the record, so here we are with “Finland, Finland.”

In 1997, the year of Denver’s actual death, “Farewell” was restored on the reissue of Contractual Obligation Album. It also appears on the CD version of Instant Record Collection: The Pick of the Best of Some Recently Repeated Python Hits Again, Vol. 2.

Incidentally, though I’m not a fan of Denver’s music, I always thought he was a righteous dude for standing up to the PMRC.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
The Ministry of Silly Clocks, fun timepieces based on the classic Monty Python sketch
06:48 am

Pop Culture

John Cleese
Monty Python

Oh, the Internet, you and all your inspired goofy crap that I want… Today’s coveted objects are these marvelous timepieces, based on the classic Monty Python sketch “Ministry of Silly Walks,” using John Cleese’s legs and umbrella as the clocks’ hands.

Ministry of Silly Walks ‘pocket watch’ wall/desk mount clock

Ministry of Silly Walks wristwatch

Ministry of Silly Walks world clock

If you’re of a crafty bent, you might make your way to, where a Blogger user named Suzanne has published detailed and generously illustrated instructions for making your own Ministry of Silly Walks clock out of materials cheaply and readily available at any craft store.

If you don’t know the sketch, oh dear GOD, let’s get you up to speed, shall we? It was originally aired in the first episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ second season, and it features a lanky and limber Cleese executing some of the most uproarious physical comedy ever committed to film, all while maintaining a completely serious deadpan expression. At one point, the sheer volume of the studio audience’s laughter is sufficient to render Cleese’s lines completely inaudible. In his The First 20 Years of Monty Python (later revised as The First 28 Years of Monty Python), prolific Python chronicler Kim “Howard” Johnson relates Graham Chapman’s tale of the sketch’s origin:

John Cleese and I were writing together one day, and John had been thinking of doing something about anger. He’s very good at it, and he likes that emotion very much indeed. I’d been noticing that there were all sorts of ministries for strange things that were likely to distract people from the main issues of the day, and make it look like the government was doing something. A lot of attention would either go to a drought or a flood that probably didn’t exist anyway, and there seemed to be lots of useless ministries. I thought, why not a Ministry of Anger?

It’s difficult to remember whether it was John’s or my idea, but I do know that the next stage was Silly Walks, which was more ludicrous and petty than an emotion like anger. My house was on a very steep hill, and we saw a man walk past, uphill, stooped very sharply backward, defying the laws of gravity! Well, we thought Silly Walks was a good idea, but we couldn’t quite think how to develop it.

As usual, we were supposed to be writing something else when this idea occurred—anything to prevent us from getting to that work! But we thought we’d better get on to writing what we were supposed to be writing. So we rang up Mike (Palin) and Terry (Jones)—to interrupt them from whatever they were supposed to be doing—and made them write the sketch.


Previously on Dangerous Minds
Monty Python: the true story behind the ‘Dead Parrot Sketch’
Cleese Crossing

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Terry Gilliam’s title sequence for ‘Cry of the Banshee’ (with Vincent Price) 1970
11:22 am


Terry Gilliam
Monty Python
horror movies

Less than a year after the premiere of Monty Python’s Flying Circus on BBC, Terry Gilliam’s credit sequence for Gordon Hessler’s Cry of the Banshee was also presented to the world. For those of us who are more likely to think of a fleshy foot or perhaps “Conrad Poohs and His Dancing Teeth” as typical of Gilliam’s well-known cutout technique might be surprised to see it used to such different effect.

Cry of the Banshee was the second of three movies Hessler would make with Vincent Price in a span of two years; the others were The Oblong Box and Scream and Scream Again.

Among other things this represents Gilliam’s first-ever credit on a feature film, at least I could find nothing earlier on IMDb.


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
John Cleese names his favorite show he’s ever done—it’s probably not what you were expecting
10:47 am


John Cleese
Monty Python

A few days ago, the Nerdist released its interview with John Cleese of Monty Python. The host, Chris Hardwick, admits to worshiping Cleese—who can’t relate to that?—and they spend a really easygoing hour or so together. Cleese is promoting his new memoir So Anyway, which Jonathan Yardley in the Washington Post called “smart, thoughtful, provocative and above all funny,” even if Lewis Jones at the Spectator in the UK called it “a dreary compendium of pompous self-congratulation and tetchy sarcasm.” Ouch.

Anyway, about 58 minutes in, Hardwick asks Cleese about the “favorite thing that you’ve ever done.” What would he pick, do you think? Monty Python and the Holy Grail! Or maybe the Dead Parrot sketch? Oh, how, stupid of me, of course he would pick Fawlty Towers, that’s a no-brainer. Although you never know, it could be his psychology books with Robin Skynner or A Fish Called Wanda (which briefly established Cleese as the thinking woman’s sex symbol) or the business training videos he did for the company he founded, Video Arts. Or The Human Face?

Nope, nope, and nope. Turns out all of those guesses are way off.

Here’s his answer to the question: “I made a little documentary about lemurs in Madagascar once, and there was something about that I thought was very warm and mellow, and I liked that, I liked that a lot. And it enabled me to make a few sort of jokes that I hadn’t made before, and it was something really fresh.” After that, Cleese confides that the making of Fawlty Towers was a happy experience, but the filming of Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life was very much the opposite, not a happy experience at all.

The “little documentary” cited by Cleese is called “Operation Lemur: Mission to Madagascar” (although the in-show title, as you can see, is “Lemurs with John Cleese”). It was filmed as part of a series of nature programs that ran for several years called Into the Wild in which they would sent Hollywood celebrities to distant wildlife destinations, such as sending Julia Roberts to Borneo to learn about orangutans or Goldie Hawn to India to witness elephant life.

Cleese has developed a serious affection for lemurs. On Cleese’s Facebook page, his “About” area contains the following text: “John Cleese is a tall person who likes lemurs, coffee and wine. He’s also been known to write and act a bit.” He has also had a lemur named after him—the Bemaraha woolly lemur is also referred to as “Cleese’s woolly lemur.”

The documentary isn’t bad—you’ll definitely learn a thing or two about lemurs, and they are pretty fascinating animals. My favorite bit covers the long tails of the animals as well as the remarkable “stink fights” that lemurs will engage in—nonlethal conflicts in which the band of lemurs that produces the more offensive smell wins.

All in all, though, I wouldn’t trade it for the original 45 episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.....


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
John Cleese: FOX News viewers are too stupid to realize that they are stupid

Be afraid, be very afraid…

For some years now, I have been fascinated with the Dunning-Kruger effect. I believe it was some Internet writings by Errol Morris that first turned me on to the idea around 2007. It’s incredibly useful, I feel like I find a use for it almost every day. If nothing else, it’s a spur to humility, because we’re all susceptible to it. Some, ahem, far more than others.

In a 1999 article called “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments,” David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University came to the conclusion that the qualified are often more skeptical about their own abilities in a given realm than the unqualfied are. People who are unqualified or unintelligent are more likely to rate their own abilities favorably than people who are qualified or intelligent. In the paper, the authors wrote, “Across four studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd.”

However, people with actual ability tended to underrate their relative competence. Participants who found tasks to be fairly easy mistakenly assumed that the tasks must also be easy for others as well. As Dunning and Kruger conclude: “The miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others.”

Charles Darwin put it most pithily in The Descent of Man when he wrote, “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” As W.B. Yeats put it in The Second Coming: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” Apparently there is a scientific grounding for that line.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is unusually suitable in describing the many frustrating positions and rhetoric of the Republican Party. My favorite (if depressing) example of the Dunning-Kruger effect comes from the mouth of George W. Bush in the days before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. As Bob Woodward wrote in Plan of Attack:

The president said he had made up his mind on war. The U.S. should go to war.

“You’re sure?” Powell asked.

Yes. It was the assured Bush. His tight, forward-leaning, muscular body language verified his words. It was the Bush of the days following 9/11.

“You understand the consequences,” Powell said in a half-question. …

Yeah, I do, the president answered.

Yeah, I do, the president answered. What on earth could that utterance by Bush possibly mean? Could it not be clearer that what was in Bush’s head at that moment and what was in Powell’s head at that moment had very little to do with each other? In effect Powell was taking Bush’s word that Bush had seriously considered the consequences of invasion, when to be frank, all available evidence, both at the time and later on, suggests that Bush was foolhardy about what the actual consequences of invasion might be.

Earlier this year, the research of Dunning and Kruger was referenced by a relatively unlikely source: John Cleese, the brilliant comedian who famously portrayed one of the single most obtuse and supercilious characters in TV history, Basil Fawlty. Cleese believes FOX’s viewership is too unintelligent to put the proper brakes on their own thought processes: “The problem with people like this is that they are so stupid that they have no idea how stupid they are. You see, if you’re very, very stupid, how can you possibly realize that you’re very, very stupid, you’d have to be relatively intelligent to realize how stupid you are.”

Apparently Cleese and Dunning are pals—he says so in the video, anyway. Here, have a look:


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Mick Jagger on Monty Python reunion: ‘A bunch of wrinkly old men trying to relive their youth’
06:16 am

Current Events

Mick Jagger
Monty Python

Never one to shy away from publicity, Mick Jagger sends himself up in this latest plug for Monty Python Live (Mostly), screened during today’s Python press conference.

Jagger, who has been touring with The Rolling Stones, gamely pokes fun at himself and his fellow bandmates as he discusses lighting and set lists for with an assistant:

Monty Python—are they still going? I mean, who wants to see that again really? It was really funny in the sixties… Still, a bunch of wrinkly old men trying to relive their youth and make a load of money, I mean, the best one died years ago!

The Pythons will be performing ten gigs this July at the O2 Arena in London. John Cleese has described the event as being more like a rock show than a piece of theater. The first show sold out in 40 seconds, leading to extra dates being added.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
On location with ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’

At the end of April 1974, the Monty Python team arrived in Ballachulish, Scotland, for a month’s filming on their second feature Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

After more than a year of careful planning, writing and lengthy negotiations, the Pythons (Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin) hoped to make a “really good comedy film” that could stand alone and wouldn’t rely on the success of their TV series.

In his diary, Michael Palin detailed the film’s progress from initial idea to finished product.

Monday, March 5th [1973]

A Python meeting at Terry’s. The first time since the third LP in September that we have all contributed to a creative enterprise—in this case the second Python film. It was in many ways like a typical Python working day. Graham arrived late, and Terry made the coffee—and there was the usual indecision over whether to have a small lunch in, or a blow-out at one of Camberwell’s few restaurants…

But for me, the most heartening thing of all was the quality and quantity of the writing that Python has done over the last week… Today we proved that Python can still be as fresh as three years ago, and more prolific.

The team were also working on a stage show, a new book, another TV series (this time without Cleese) and their own projects. In amongst all this, each Python had to find time to work on the film script.

Tuesday, November 27th [1973]

Worked at Terry [Jones’] in the morning. A very poor session. We both wrote 75% tripe, and seemed unable to summon up excitement or concentration about the film. The most I could manage was a sketch about Galahad having smelly breath.


Tuesday, January 15th, London [1974]

Python meeting at T. Gilliam’s… There was some fairly bitter debate over timing of the film and rewriting. In the end, after the personal differences had been aired, we got down to some fast and efficient business, dates were agreed and there was a very useful hour’s discussion of the film. An idea I had for the gradual and increasing involvement of the present day in this otherwise historical film was adopted as a new and better way of ending it…

With the script finished, casting and locations chosen, the filming was scheduled to commence in the spring with Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam co-directing.

Tuesday, April 30th, Ballachulish

First day of filming. Woken at 6.45. Sunshine streaming through the curtains. Into chainmail and red-cross tabard. A difficult day today—the Bridge of Death scene where Eric and I die and Lancelot is arrested by the police…

Camera broke midway through first shot.

The day is hastily rearranged and, from having been busy, but organised, it is now busy and disorganised… Graham as King Arthur got vertigo and couldn’t go across the bridge. He spent the day unhappily cold and shaking. Eric and I and John sat around listening to stories from the Mountain Rescue boys about how many people perish on these spectacular mountains each year. Five or six deaths usually.

Terry J comes up to me in the afternoon and says he’s ‘a bit worried about Terry G’s priorities in choice of shots’—we run two and a quarter hours overtime, until nearly 8.00. Everyone in the young unit seems happy enough.


Wednesday, May 1st, Ballachulish

Lunch with Mark [Forstater, producer], Eric and John, who is trying to read a book of philosophy and is constantly rather cross—but quite fun. He continually goes on about the ‘bovine incompetence’ of the waitresses—who are no Einsteins, but good-hearted Scottish mums.


Thursday, May 2nd, Ballachulish

Eric and I have another lazy day at the rest home for officers, while Graham and Terry are finding the Castle Aaargh! We go to the location about 2.00, and they still haven’t had a lunch break.

Graham is getting shit poured all over him. He’s taking a great deal of punishment in these first few days of filming.

Friday, May 3rd, Killin

A slow day’s filming, it seems. Rather a lot of worried faces when we run into overtime again…

Julian [Doyle] took me aside after filming today as we walked down the hillside and said he was worried that the way things were being shot this week was putting a big strain on the budget (almost the entire £1,000 allowed for overtime was spent in this first week) and there would have to be some compromises by the Terrys somewhere along the line.


Saturday, May 4th, Killin

A good day’s filming at last. Even John and Eric aren’t grumbling, even tho’ we go into overtime again.

Monday, May 6th, Killin

John and I talked about life. I sympathise quite a lot with his urge to be free of the obligations and responsibilities of the Python group—but I feel that John is still tense and unrelaxed with people, which compounds his problems. He has more defences than Fort Knox.


Tuesday, May 7th

Today we shoot the Camelot musical sequence. A long and busy day for 50 seconds’ worth of film…

We pass the afternoon with a game of football. Despite the chainmail, some quite good moves.


Thursday, May 9th

Amazing how much eating one does on filming. If you get up at 7.15 it is nice to have a cup of coffee at least before going to over to the Doune Rural Hall (headquarters of the WI [Women’s Institute]) and, with a full breakfast menu available, I am quite often tempted to a kipper or even a piece of toast. Then, at 10.30 on set, there is more coffee and soft, delicious bap rolls with sausages and scrambled egg. Ron Hellard supplies a gargantuan lunch with much pastry and potato, which is also hard to resist. At around 4.00 tea/coffee and cakes (v. good home-made currant buns) and, after a drink back at the hall at the end of the day, and a look at the rushes (shown extraordinarily enough, in the Silver Chalice Bar!), there is a four-course set meal at the hotel. Consumption is about double what one eats at home.

Saturday, May 11th

John is doing the Taunter on some artificial battlements at the back of the castle. He’s getting very irritated by TG’s direction of his acting. TG tends to communicate by instinct, gesture and feeling, whereas John prefers precise verbal instructions. So TJ has to take over and soothe John down.

Monday, May 13th

The day of the Mud-Eater. Clad in rags, crawling through filthy mud repeatedly and doggedly, in a scene which makes the flagellation scene from Seventh Seal look like Breakfast at Tiffany’s.


Friday, May 24th

...filming is an appalling process for reducing an actor to the role of machine.

In the Knights of Ni, for instance, I was to do close-ups first. directly in front of me are a group of anoraked people squatting down, far more preoccupied with their equipment than me. Someone reads the lines off in a flat voice, which gives you little encouragement. An eyeline keeps you looking at no one at all. Two huge white polystyrene reflectors enclose me on either side—it feels like acting in a sandwich.

Wednesday, May 29th

John, dressed as a magician, spent much of the morning on the narrow top of an extremely impressive pinnacle of slate, across the quarry from us.

Twice the cameras turned. Twice John, towering above the green and pleasant vistas of the Trossachs, gave the signal to summon forth mighty explosions. Twice the explosions failed, and John was left on this striking but lonely pinnacle. He kept in good form, reciting his old cabaret monologues across the quarry, but it was a hard start to the day for him—and he was cold and subdued by the time he came back.

Friday, May 31st

The long and wordy Constitutional Peasants scene. Feel heavy dull and uninspired—wanting above all else for it to be the end of the day…

Terry Bedford [camera] is angry because Mark [Forstater, producer] has been trying to economise by buying old film-stock. Some of the film which has arrived today is six years old. Terry will not use it—in fact he threw a can into a nearby moorland stream—so we have 1,000 feet on which to do this entire scene…

I’m almost too tired to enjoy fully the elation at the end of the day, when the filming, or my part of it anyway, is finally completed. Want to jump up and down, but can’t. So I just stand there looking out over the Scottish hills, all grey and dusky as evening falls, and feel wonderfully free.

Extracted from Michael Palin’s Diaries: 1969-1979 The Python Years.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail was released in April 1975 and proved incredibly successful, hailed as one of the greatest comedies ever made, making millions in profit, and spawning Eric Idle’s multi-award-winning musical Monty Python’s Spamalot.

H/T Vintage Everyday

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’-themed killer rabbit slippers


Tim: Well, that’s no ordinary rabbit.
King Arthur: Ohh.
Tim: That’s the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on!

If I bought these Monty Python and the Holy Grail rabbit slippers, they’d probably just end up being extra expensive Monty Python dog toys. My dogs are like that. Assholes.

The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog slippers are available through Firebox for $40.89.

Update: Some less expensive ones can be found here.

Via Laughing Squid

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Monty Python to reunite for new stage show!
07:11 am

Pop Culture

Monty Python

And now for something completely… wonderful?

After The Sun broke the story about 12 hours ago, it was confirmed by Terry Jones to the BBC that comedy group Monty Python’s Flying Circus are to officially reform in some capacity for a stage show and a rumored film/TV deal. There’s going to be a press conference on Thursday, according to Eric Idle’s Twitter feed.

Jones told the BBC:

“We’re getting together and putting on a show - it’s real. I’m quite excited about it. I hope it makes us a lot of money. I hope to be able to pay off my mortgage!”

Graham Chapman died in 1989. The last time that surviving members John Cleese, 74, Terry Gilliam, 72, Terry Jones, 71, Eric Idle, 70, and Michael Palin, 70, have all been seen in the same stage was an appearance in 1998 at The Aspen Comedy Festival.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ minus the jokes, a ‘modern’ trailer
12:45 pm


Monty Python

I normally turn my nose up at these re-imagined trailers of comedy films turned into serious, action-packed funsies. But this one actually works.

I’ll be honest, I-I kept waiting for the funny parts!

Via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
(Amazing) Monty Python rarity: ‘The Great Birds Eye Peas Relaunch of 1971’
11:19 am


Monty Python

Above, Eric Idle, looking like a member of the Cockettes (deliberately?) as “The Comparatively Good Fairy”

One of the least-known Monty Python rarities is “The Great Birds Eye Peas Relaunch of 1971,” a short advertising film that was made for the Birds Eye company’s internal use and then apparently locked away from the public eye (and probably the Python’s, too) until it magically appeared on YouTube.

It’s difficult to imagine what the Bird’s Eye brass would have made of the film back then, but the salespeople would have been delighted, I’m sure. It’s Glengarry Glen Ross meets Salvador Dali, minus all the swearing and macho angst.

“I like all my peas on the plate to be the same size.”


“Sheer stupidity.”

This is the most complete version of “the story they said was too uninteresting to be made” that’s out there.


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Pre-Rutles: ‘I Want To Hold Your Handel’

On Friday, Eric Idle posted a photo on Twitter of what he thinks is “possibly from a very obscure ITV one off show c 1965 featuring some of the Footlights” singing a pre-Rutles Beatles parody, “I Want To Hold Your Handel.”

Music arranger John Cameron, who later worked with Donovan and producer Mickie Most at RAK Records, started out at Cambridge University with Idle. During Idle’s time as president of the Cambridge Footlights Revue, Cameron was vice president and musical director.

Cameron described “I Want To Hold Your Handel” in the liner notes to the reissue of Donovan’s Sunshine Superman:

“[Eric Idle] and I wrote a lot of pastiches of Beatles tunes… we actually wrote a thing called ‘I Want to Hold Your Handel,’ which was the Hallelujah Chorus for The Beatles. Unfortunately Messrs. Lennon and McCartney weren’t very happy about their songs being pastiched in this way and wouldn’t allow us to do it on English territory, which was a drag, but it did go on to Broadway. Eric and I used to receive royalty cheques at the Footlights in our third year at university, which put us in a rather different spending league to anybody else!”

Idle’s penchant for affectionately spoofing the Beatles developed into The Rutles on his post-Python series Rutland Weekend Television with Neil Innes, Ricky Fataar, John Halsey, Ollie Halsall, and David Battley.

The Birth of ‘The Rutles’ on Rutland Weekend Television, below:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
Neil Innes, the ‘seventh Python’: How Sweet To Be An Idiot
11:33 am


Monty Python
Neil Innes
Eric Idle
The Rutles

I’ve been listening to the music of Neil Innes a lot this week as I’ve been writing and as always, enjoying his work immensely. It’s a feast. Truly he is one of the best pop songwriters we have, a chameleon of musical styles from the earliest stages of his career. Tin Pan Alley, vaudeville, psychedelic rock, Beatles pastiches, even reggae, there’s nothing he can’t do. As Innes gets older, his genre hopping songwriting gets even better, something that can’t be said of all—or even many—of his Sixties contemporaries. Sadly, although he is undeniably a musician’s musician, Innes will probably never be recognized as such. Why? Because he’s funny, too.

Since I was a wee lad I’ve been been a fanatical fan of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, the wonderfully zany group of Dada art school rejects featuring Innes and “ginger geezer” front man Vivian Stanshall. I discovered them listening to the Dr. Demento radio show when he played their cover of “Hunting Tigers Out in ‘Indiah’” (I heard Noel Coward and The Mothers of Invention for the first time during that same show, three life-long obsessions launched that fateful evening). I ran right out and spent my birthday money on The History of the Bonzos, a two LP set with a glossy booklet filled with insane photographs and a history of the group. I loved every single song on it. Still do.

The Bonzos were much beloved of all the really heavy rock groups of the Sixties and they opened for The Who, Led Zeppelin and The Kinks. Eric Clapton was a huge fan. Paul McCartney produced their only hit, “I’m The Urban Spaceman” (under the name “Apollo C. Vermouth”) and they made a guest appearance in the Beatles’ TV special Magical Mystery Tour as the band in the strip joint playing “Death Cab for Cutie” (and yes, this is where the band got their name). If you’ve never heard their seminal albums Gorilla, The Doughnut in Granny’s Greenhouse, Tadpoles or Keynsham (my favorite) you really don’t know as much about Sixties music as you think you do, it’s just that simple.

It’s like never hearing Captain Beefheart or The Velvet Underground and thinking you’re all clever, a glaring and unforgivable cultural blind spot, sez me.

I’ve gone out of my way for three decades now hunting down Bonzo Dog Band related bootlegs, especially video. There wasn’t a lot of it about until a few years ago when the DVD of Do Not Adjust Your Set was released. DNAYS was a hip Sixties tea-time kids show, beloved of children and parents (think Pee-wee’s Playhouse from an earlier era). It starred pre-Python Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin (Terry Gilliam did animations for the show). The Bonzos were the primarly musical performers and members of the group appeared as extras in the comedy sketches. DNAYS was thought lost for many years when the ones that were released on DVD were re-discovered. Now there is a terrific amount of “new” Bonzo material for fans like me to feast on much that has been uploaded to YouTube.

After the breakup of the Bonzos, Neil Innes continued his association with his former DNAYS co-stars by appearing and writing material for the final 1974 series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the series after John Cleese left (only Innes and Douglas Adams were ever given writing credits outside of the six Pythons during the show’s history). Innes appears in Monty Python and the Holy Grail as the annoying minstrel and singing his memorable Dylan parody, “Protest Song” (“I’ve suffered for my music and now it’s your turn…”) in Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl. Post-Python, Innes and Eric Idle created the wonderful Rutland Weekend Television series (think Brit version of SCTV) and Innes went on—solo, I think he and Idle had a falling out—to The Innes Book of Records, a musically-oriented comedy series., quite ahead of its time.

And of course there were The Rutles in All You Need is Cash, Idle and Innes’ adroit parody of the Beatles. Innes went on to a number of children’s shows in the 1980s and 90s such as Puddle Lane. He tours solo and with others and has reformed The Bonzo Dog Band for a reunion concert (with luminaries like Britwits Stephen Fry and Paul Merton filling in for the late Vivian Stanshall). A film was made about Innes’ life and career (and featuring many of his famous friends) in 2008 called The Seventh Python, which has never been released on DVD.

Neil Innes Official Website. Follow Neil Innes on Twitter

Previously on Dangerous Minds
The Bonzo Dog Band: Rare and Complete version of ‘The Adventures of the Son of Exploding Sausage’

GRIMMS: The most incredible 70’s Supergroup, you’ve probably never heard of

The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band: Debut appearance on classic kid’s show ‘Blue Peter’ in 1966

‘High School Hermit’: Another Delightful Moment in TV History from The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band

Bonus Clip: George Harrison performing “The Pirate Song” on Rutland Weekend Television in 1975.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Terry Gilliam’s darkly humorous animated Christmas cards

An inspired bit of Christmas fun from Terry Gilliam. This originally aired in 1968 on the British TV show for kids, Do Not Adjust Your Set.

Gilliam was asked to prepare something for a special show to be broadcast on Christmas day, 1968, called Do Not Adjust Your Stocking. Looking for inspiration, he decided to visit the Tate Gallery. In The Pythons: Autobiography by the Pythons, Gilliam remembered the project and how it figured into his emerging artistic style:

“I went down to the Tate and they’ve got a huge collection of Victorian Christmas cards so I went through the collection and photocopied things and started moving them around. So the style just developed out of that rather than any planning being involved. I never analysed the stuff, I just did it the quickest, easiest way. And I could use images I really loved.”

Ho, ho, ho.

Via Open Culture

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Neil Innes: ‘Urban Spaceman’ revisited

Neil Innes performs two of the quickest versions of his hit song “Urban Spaceman”.

The first is accompanied by “Testing” and is taken from Late Night Line-Up - a kind of late night BBC arts show that kicked-off in the 1960s and was revived in the 1980s. The second is from the brilliant series Rutland Weekend Television, which spawned The Rutles.

Innes is a favorite at DM, for his brilliant musical talents and his incredible back catalog as Bonzo, Python, Rutle and Book of Records. Like the dear olde Ginger Geezer, he is one of the few artists I return to with an obsessional passion. Indeed, m’colleague Richard and I have had phases when we’ve played nothing but the Bonzos for weeks on end.

My earliest memory of “Urban Spaceman” is looped to clips of playing space walks and moon landings with my brother on summer-lit lawns, at my grandparents’ house. Of wearing cardboard space helmets given away free with tasty fruit pastilles called Jelly Tots, and watching the Bonzos on Do Not Adjust Your Set. It was also the first time I learned the lyrics to a song, and became fascinated with its meaning. Who was this “Urban Spaceman”? And why didn’t he exist?

Later, in the 1970s, Innes starred, wrote and performed 3 series of The Innes Book of Records, one TV’s truly brilliant and original shows. Sadly, the BBC has been loathe to rescreen or even release this classic piece of musical culture since. But thankfully there is a petition up-and-running to get the Beeb to pull its finger out and do something useful about it ASAP. So, if like me, you want to see Neil Innes’ genius show, then please click here and sign the petition. Thank you!

More from the fabulous Neil plus bonus clip of when a Bonzo met The Beatles, after the jump…
With thanks to NellyM

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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