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Comedy – 1978 – Monty Python Eric Idle – Stand Up Routine

Eric Idle (born 29 March 1943) is an English comedian, actor, voice actor, author, singer-songwriter, musician, writer and comedic composer…who was a member of the British surreal comedy group Monty Python….a member of the parody rock band The Rutles…..and the author of the Broadway musical Spamalot.

Idle wrote for Python mostly by himself….although he sometimes found it difficult in having to present material to the others and make it seem funny without the back-up support of a partner….whereas the other Pythons usually worked in teams….which John Cleese admitted that this was slightly unfair….especially when the Pythons voted on which sketches should appear in a show….“he (Idle) only got one vote”….however, he also says that Idle was an independent person and worked best on his own. Idle himself admitted this was sometimes difficult too saying “You had to convince five others, and they were not the most un-egotistical of writers, either.”  

Idle’s work in Python is often characterized by an obsession with language and communication….with many of his characters having verbal peculiarities….such as the man who speaks in anagrams, the man who says words in the wrong order….and the butcher who alternates between rudeness and politeness every time he speaks.  A number of his sketches involve extended monologues….like the customer in the “Travel Agency” sketch who won’t stop talking about his unpleasant experiences with holidays….and he would frequently spoof the unnatural language and speech patterns of television presenters….for unlike Michael Palin, Idle is said to be the master of insincere characters from the David Frost-esque Timmy Williams to small-time crook Stig O’Tracy….who tries to deny the fact that organised crime master Dinsdale Piranha nailed his head to the floor.

Although Idle was the  2nd youngest member of the Pythons….he was the closest in spirit to the students and teenagers who made up much of Python’s fan base….especially with Python sketches dealing most with contemporary obsessions like pop music, sexual permissiveness and recreational drugs are usually Idle’s work….which was often characterized by double entendre, sexual references and other “naughty” subject matter….as most famously demonstrated in “Nudge Nudge”….a piece that Idle originally wrote for Ronnie Barker….but it was rejected because there was ‘no joke in the words’.

A competent guitarist, Idle composed many of the group’s most famous musical numbers….to which most notably “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” as the closing number of Life of Brian…. which has grown to become a Python signature tune. He was also responsible for the “Galaxy Song” from The Meaning of Life and “Eric the Half-a-Bee”, a whimsical tune that first appeared on the Previous Record album.

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