Monday, October 05, 2009

Monty Python Turns 40

It was 40 years ago today that one of my all-time favorite programs, "Monty Python's Flying Circus" debuted on the BBC, to little fanfare.

But little did anyone know it would become one of the most influential comedy shows ever.

On the same day the Mets won Game 2 of the NLCS in Atlanta, "Monty Python's Flying Circus" came into the world. It was a hit in the UK and ran for four series, but would not be known in America until 1974, when it was shown by ABC, in a butchered form that garnered little critical praise.

But a PBS station in Dallas began showing it in its entirety a year later, and it took off from there. I got hooked on it the first time I saw it, on PBS' Channel 13 here in New York. They showed it every Sunday night at 10:30 PM for nearly 6 years. I rarely ever missed it, and loved talking about episodes with friends of mine the next day when I was in high school.

I've had the pleasure of meeting Michael Palin on three occasions at book signings, and he is the consummate English gentleman. I also met Carol Cleveland in 2004 at a show in New Jersey and she couldn't have been nicer. It's hard to believe it's been four decades since the show's debut, and 20 years since the death of the multi-talented Graham Chapman, who died of cancer in 1989, and the day before the 20th anniversary.

Every so often I pop an episode of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" on my TV (I have them all, of course), and it never fails to make me laugh. I remember back on September 10, 2002, as I was preparing to go to Ground Zero for the first time for the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the night before I put "Monty Python's Flying Circus" on, because I knew the next day would be a day of total sadness, and I needed something to prepare myself for it. It was perfect.

So, I want to wish the members of Monty Python a happy 40th anniversary, and I thank them for all the laughs they have provided me over the years. And especially at those times when I really needed it.

And IFC will be showing a week of Monty Python, starting October 18th. They will be broadcasting three of their films, along with a six-part documentary, "Almost the Truth: The Lawyer's Cut," airing that week as well. For more, check this link.

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