Me on the Pythons...
What was it like working with those guys? In a word... DULL! Dull, dull, dull!! (and if you believe that, you'll believe anything).
Actually, I had a ball! We ALL did. They were great days and great guys. I miss them! Those chaps allowed me to be as silly, saucy and outrageous as I wanted to be... and they loved it when I was!...(but let's set the record straight here... I NEVER appeared nude, except for a bare back shot!). Sometimes they'd give me a really rude line to say... which I always did, but in a very sweet way. They'd chuckle like naughty schoolboys because only I could have gotten away with it! That's what they were, naughty schoolboys who deserved a good spanking. A spanking, a spanking! And then the... oops, sorry... better not get into that!
What's so wonderful is how well Python has stood the test of time. It still works! 'We last performed all together in July, 2014 at the O2 Arena in London for the big reunion show Monty Python Live (almost)! The last time we'd done this production was in 1980 at the Hollywood Bowl in California, playing to 8000 people a night for four nights. I had always thought of that show as being the pinnacle of my career... but the O2 production totally eclipsed it! We now played up to 17,000 people a night for ten nights and in one word... it was 'awesome'! It was a very new production, but at the same time... so déjà vu-ish. The past fourty years just slid away. Sadly, we didn't have Graham or Neil Innes with us, but instead there were twenty beautiful girl and boy singer/dancers. Eric had turned the show into a musical! I now had the chance to play character roles... no longer the 'girl' in the Spanish Inquisition sketch, but now the old lady... and the frighteningly awful Mrs Bun in the Spam sketch. I loved doing that, but I did however insist upon wearing a showgirl costume for the final number! (looking back... perhaps it WAS a brave thing to do).
The Pythons have said they'll never again work together on stage, but I'm sure we'll all meet up again somewhere, sometime... and we'll all be singing 'Always look on the bright side of life, de dum, de dum, de dum, de dum... '
'Monty Python Live' photos by Ralph Larmann
What the Pythons Say...
"A Recurring Favorite - Carol Cleveland"
The Pythons weren't able to play all of their parts themselves, and were lucky enough to have a very talented stable of supporting players to back them up. But, whether they appeared in one show or dozens, none is as dear to the hearts of Python fans as their Number One Ingenue, Carol Cleveland.
If there was ever a seventh Python, there can only truly be one candidate. Carol Cleveland started out in the very first Monty Python's Flying Circus, and appeared in two-thirds of the original forty-five shows, as well as virtually every important Python film and stage show that followed.
Carol brought exactly the right attitude to the shows, and the group always tried to use her whenever a real woman was required. She was actually discovered by the MPFC original director, John Howard Davies, and hired to appear in the first few shows only.
"We didn't know who she was when we started the series," says John Cleese. "John Howard Davies cast her and we all liked her, so from then on, we used her for all but the more upper-class roles. We simply liked what she did; she was very easy to get along with, she could be very silly when required and she didn't have an excessive sense of dignity. I thought she was absolutely excellent. She was very solid, very professional, very likeable and easy to have around."
"Carol just had a real inspiration for fitting in. She was absolutely right for what we wanted," says Terry Jones. "She would play these parts, the bosomy, sexy girl, larger than life, and make it funny - she was acting in tune with the rest of us. When Ian MacNaughton took over, he kept trying to bring other girls into the shows, and they were always hopeless. Because it's very difficult to come in and try to hit the same key - but Carol did. We'd insist on Carol if it was a big sketch, but when it was a small bit, especially in the first season, we'd allow Ian to choose other girls. But they never worked the same as Carol did. They would have all been much better if we'd always just had Carol."
"Carol, of course, was excellent. She was the unsung heroine because she was so spot on," says Michael Palin. "We never had to tell her how to play a scene, she just had a Python way of thinking about it. She instinctively knew how to get all those laughs out, which is not necessarily by going over the top or mugging. It's all teamwork, sharing the laughs with the others. She was so very good when she was in love with the pantomime horse! 'Oh, pantomime horse, I do love you so!' Things like that, she did very well indeed - she was never, ever upstaged."
"She had a great appetite for acting, she's got a natural talent for comedy, but I think the great thing about Carol was her temperament. She was able to cope with anything that was thrown at her. She didn't particularly want to become a Python, she didn't want to write, she didn't seem to hold any grudge against us for not writing better parts for women. She enjoyed doing what she did, and she knew she did it well, and there was a feeling of confidence when we'd give a part to Carol. You knew exactly how it was going to be done, and it was done right.
Excerpt from "The First 28 Yrs. of Monty Python" © 1999 Kim "Howard" Johnson.
Monty Python's Flying Circus: Role Call
|02||Deidre Putey||"Marriage Guidance Counselor"|
|03||Wife, Sexy Woman||"Restaurant Sketch" "Seduced Milkmen"|
|04||Nurse||"Secret Service Dentist"|
|05||French Au Pair, Woman Voice Over, Dora||Vox Pop 1 Vox Pop 2 "Letter in Protest of Sketch" "Erotic Film"|
|08||Bride||"Buying A Mattress"|
|11||Lady Velloper||"Agatha Christie sketch"|
|1||Sister, Receptionist, Hippy Girl||"Me Doctor" "Psychiatry - Silly sketch" "Operating theatre (squatters)"|
|15||Lady Mountback, Young Lady, Catherine, Second Counsel||"Spanish Inquisition " "Photos of Uncle Ted" "Semaphore Version of Wuthering Heights" "Court scene (charades)"|
|16||Girl, Secretary, Hostess, Milkmaid||"Introduction" "Flying Lessons" "Hijacked Plane (To Luton)" "Complaints"|
|18||Maid, Maureen Spencer||"Accidents Sketch" "Ken 'Clean-Air' Systems"|
|19||A Very-Silly Looney||"Election Night Special"|
|20||Mrs. Attila, Miss Norris, Lucy||"The Attila The Hun Show" "Secretary of State Striptease" "The News For Parrots"|
|21||Danielle, Mrs. Stokes, Nun||"Flaming Star" "Mr & Mrs Git" "A Nice Version"|
|22||Mrs. Irrelevant, Mother||"Cut-price Airline" "There's Been A Murder"|
|23||Girl, Vanilla Hoare||"French Subtitled Film" "Scott Of The Antarctic"|
|24||Woman, Woman, Interviewer||"Agatha Christie Sketch (Railway Timetables)" "Neville Shunt" "Crackpot Religions"|
|25||"Sunshine" Sizzler (cut-out)||"Hungarian Phrasebook Trial"|
|26||Pretty Girl, Ms. Hodges, Waitress||"Cartoon Dreamworld" "Girls Boarding School" "Cannibal Lifeboat"|
|29||Fourth Explorer||"The Lost World of Roiurama"|
|30||Josephine (BBC Announcer) Girl (Simone)||"Richard Baker News" "Pantomime Horse is a Secret Agent Film"|
|31||Secretary||"Travel Agent Sketch"|
|34||Lucille, Nurse, Nurse||"Yes, No, I Don't Know" "Pither in Bicycle Shop" "Clumsy Hospital"|
|35||Stewardess, Attendant, Beatrice Robinson||"Bomb On Plane" "Mortuary Sketch" "An Evening With The Cheap-Laughs"|
|36||Wife, Girl, Spanish Dancer||"Tudor Porn/Sir Philip Sydney" "Loony Vicar" "Sherry-Drinking Vicar"|
|37||Rich Woman, Showgirl||"Dennis Moore" "Prejudice Game Show"|
|39||Red-Haired Woman, First Lady||"Oscar Wilde Sketch" "Dirty Vicar Sketch"|
|40||Antoinette||"Louis XIV"/"Mr. Bartlett's Gone"|
|41||Woman with Flame Thrower, Woman||"Buying An Ant"/"Toupée Department" "Different Endings"|
|42||Rebecca||"Woody and Tinny Words"|
|43||Nurse, Girl, Woman, Reporter, Nurse||"Bogus Psychiatrists"/"Ophelia & Hamlet" "Father-in-law" "Boxing Match Aftermath" "Boxing Commentary"|
|45||Nurse, Woman Dancing On Table||"Doctor Whose Patients Are Stabbed By Nurse" "BBC News (Handovers)"|
Much thanks to Python (Monty) Pictures Ltd. for use of photographs and everything else!
Official Monty Python site: montypython.com