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RIP Terry Jones

Written By: - Date published: 8:47 am, January 23rd, 2020 - 16 comments
Categories: humour, Satire - Tags:

Sad overnight news with the death of Terry Jones being announced.  He was part of Monty Python, a ground breaking comedic group from the 1960s and 1970s whose movies are as outlandishly funny now as they were when they were released 40 years ago.

Their movies were very clever with devastating critiques of social norms.  And left wingers and class politics were fair game.  Like this scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Or this scene from Life of Brian.

Their humour at times cut right to the edge of what could be considered to be acceptable.

I think that humour may have peaked with their efforts.  Thankfully because of the power of digital media their efforts will live on.

16 comments on “RIP Terry Jones ”

  1. tc 2

    His direction of Life of Brian John Clesse described as perfection. Couldn't agree more, RIP

  2. gsays 3

    One of the funniest men.

    His and Palin's 'Bert Feggs Nasty Book for Boys and Girls' was a long time favourite.

    As Adam says above his historical efforts are superb. His series on the Crusades was very informative without being dense.

    A great director too.

    • McFlock 3.1

      His historical work seemed to have fresh eyes, and a great appreciation of the people involved. I think he was one of the first to argue Chaucer's Knight was something other than a romantic figure – a simple mercenary.

      Comedians often have a slightly different perspective on things.

  3. joe90 4

    Sir Michael Palin on the passing of his friend and fellow Python.

    • joe90 4.1

    • joe90 4.2

      • swordfish 4.2.1

        Pretty sure Terry Jones's (slightly obscured) "Awww, fucking hell" before he takes a nip was the first time NZ TV ever broadcast the F-word (probably only because the censors somehow missed it). Rik's reply: "Farrrk !, it's a bit early for that, isn't it ???" being the 2nd time.

        Broadcast mid-1985 (almost exactly 10 years after Monty Python's first airing here).

  4. Kevin 5

    This from The Guardian comments section:

    I was 15, writing scripts, and not knowing what to do with them (at my school there wasn;t so much a lack of interest, but a lack of anyone to even offer interest in, in my grim 80s comprehensive) so I sent them to 'Monty Python'. Monty Python seemed like gods. I had never written to anyone like that, and never did again.

    A few weeks later I got a lovely letter from Terry Jones, some notes on my sketches, some annotated Python scripts and a recommendation to speak to Paul Jackson, which led to me going to the BBC and spending a day with Rik & Ade.

    I was literally no one, and that act of kindness has always stayed with me.

    RIP Terry

  5. swordfish 6

    On a Personal Note:

    (I'll transgress the unwritten etiquette by touching on personal business just this once …)

    Terry Jones got a key mention in my funeral eulogy for my older brother, Dennis, in Oxfordshire, 2016. (No relation to his manure-gathering Anarcho-Syndicalist Peasant namesake in Holy Grail … see first clip in this post).

    As I said in the eulogy, Monty Python's Flying Circus was by far the key cultural event of our childhoods (all 4 series were broadcast back-to-back on TV1 through the middle of 1975). Remember it like yesterday … from 8pm we had to sit through a whole dreary hour of god-awful light entertainment in the form of The Rolf Harris Show (less said about Rolf the better) … but as 9pm (& hence MPFC) approached we both started getting butterflies of excitement in the pit of the stomach (the only other time that automatically happened for me as a kid was immediately before we kicked off in Saturday soccer … Python & Soccer … both dominant in our childhoods) …

    … just an audacious, razor-sharp, intellectually-erudite (though rarely pompous) & often hilariously brutal satire in an otherwise turgid landscape of unwatchable, corny, cheesy, weak-kneed family values American sit-coms and almost equally abysmal Old School tits & bums seaside postcard British comedy (Sid James / Love Thy Neighbour …).

    Only very occasionally marred by the kind of smug & self-satisfied excesses that you might normally expect from an Oxbridge Elite over-indulged for much of their lives.

    Despite being a relatively low income family, our Parents (bless them) always bought the merchandise for our birthdays + xmas … all the Python books & vinyl.

    A few days after Dennis's death, I was reading through some of the vast library of books he'd accumulated in his Oxfordshire enclave over the years (contemporary, medieval & ancient history, politics, football, cult movies, punk rock, 19C travel guides, Roman Maps, bird species guides, histories of comedy) & I came across this from Terry Jones in The Pythons' Autobiography:

    My elder brother, Nigel, was my guru in all things cultural. He formed my tastes. Told me what I could listen to and what I should avoid.

    Precisely the same relationship with Dennis & me … my tastes, preferences & irritations were profoundly shaped by his very firm ideas in distinguishing between the good & bad in both Popular & High Culture (typical INTJs for those still taken with Myers-Briggs).

    So, although John Cleese was very much Dennis's fave, I decided to give Terry Jones pride of place at the end of the Eulogy.

    As John Cleese has tweeted (see joe90 above) Jones directed what was, by common Python consent, by far the most enjoyable project any of them ever worked on … Life of Brian (in stark contrast to Holy Grail … the filming of which they all apparently hated with a vengeance).

    For me, though, Jones was probably at his best when he played particularly depraved, often potentially murderous, middle aged women (always with 5 o'clock shadows) … whether Mandy in Life of Brian, Dennis's Mother in Holy Grail, or Brian Equator's wife in MPFC.

    (Trigger-warning for permanently outraged Intersectionals with last paragraph)

  6. Sanctuary 7

    Whilst the world that gave us the Pythons – the brilliant parody of earnest student politics in the "Constitutional Peasant", the hilarious shared experience (at least by me – if my Latin teacher had been issued with a sword, our classes would have been exactly the same) of the martinet Latin teacher ("People called Romanes they go the house!") looks increasingly anachronistic, the satirical humour still contains lessons. How else, for example, is one to interpret the behaviour of elite politicians to the interference of genuine political grassroots except through the irritation shown by Arthur to Dennis the constitutional peasant?

  7. Obtrectator 8

    Great piece there by Swordfish.

    But regarding his previous post: I have to point out that the first time That Word was broadcast on NZ TV was back in 1979, by the late Arthur Baysting, right at the end of The Neville Purvis Family Show, in which he played the title character.

    (Incidentally, AB's death early in Dec last year seems to have gone almost entirely unnoticed. Rather odd, seeing he was active in the music industry right up to the end.)

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