I have been working at indee video rental store Far Out Flicks for just over ten years, with pals Boss Rolf and Manager Ray. And now with the recent addition of Kara and Sunday volunteer Tobi - we are like The FOF Five.
Rolf and I who share a deep affection for British comedy, watch Life of Brian at the video store every Easter.
We love our annual Life of Brian redux and can recite almost every silly line of this comedy gem, from Mr Cheeky to Biggus Dickus.
And whenever someone comes in to rent Life of Brian or any Python film, it's hard for me to shut up about my unique insight into All Things MP!
It's always fun for me fun to revisit Life of Brian, because its reminds me of the late '80s, when Graham Chapman came to Canada for several speaking tours.
During his visits to Canada, Chapman and I had two wide-ranging discussions and a chin wag via telephone chatting about British schools of comedy, his take on the solo film projects of the other Pythons, and Python this side of the pond. And having been weaned on Brit Com, from The Goon Show and Beyond the Fringe to The Frost Report, (where Chapman got his first writing gig), I had Great Comedy History Advantage.
In 1988, I was writing for long defunct national pop culture zine Graffiti, and had the chance to spend time with the tall, gay, non-spotty, soft spoken, cigar-smoking Wittyman.
Because a year after the interview, Chapman snuffed it on Oct 4 1989.
How did Monty Python end up in North America?
Graham Chapman: “We were pleased, but surprised. In fact, we never thought the television series could be shown here in our lifetimes perhaps because of the problems of sponsorship and the commercial aspects of television, particularly in the States. We didn’t know about PBS then, and so we refused, when asked by people like ABC, CBS, and so on, for the Python tapes.
“We refused to say yes, because we knew they would be cut up and messed about, and we didn’t want that. We were purists at the time, may even still be. But then eventually a PBS station in Dallas, a guy called Ron DeVillier, was shown a couple of programs on tape by a lady who used to act as a kind of agent for us in New York, or wanted to at that stage. We had no presence in the States, and the guy immediately wanted to see all the programs we have done, and decided to screen them on his PBS station, and it spread out from Dallas of all places.”
Okay, I have to ask about this. Why Spam??? I know people ate this during the war….
Graham Chapman: “Well, that’s it. It isn’t around very much anymore. (laughing) There’s not an easy answer to that question, why spam? It could have been pork luncheon meat, I suppose, or something else. It’s a good word Spam, though, isn’t it?”
And now it has gone down in comedy history…and speaking of that, what’s the best and the worst thing about working with Python?
Graham Chapman: “Ah well…. I can illustrate them both by talking about (1983’s) The Meaning of Life which is a fairly recent experience for us all. Now that was not a good experience to write. We began writing that without really having much of a clue as to exactly what kind of movie we were aiming at.
"We all thought we were writing different stories. Some people thought we were writing about the Third World War. Some people thought it was about the first one. Some people thought it wasn’t about a war at all, it was about a school. Other people thought it was about The Raj in India.
“I mean, we all went off and starting writing in different directions and it gradually assembled material and a lot of it fortunately was good enough. But we never had a kind any semblance of a plot, whereas Life of Brian almost wrote itself and was a joy to work on throughout."