It is 3 in the morning and a group of men are in a room together working hard to come up with something to meet their deadline. They talk, they argue, they write until finally after hours debating with the same issue something brilliant comes up.
I am not going to talk about a technical book or any other related with scientific research. This is about a group of six British menand one American who have dedicated their lives to making ours more pleasant. Humour does that. Good humour does that.
Whether you are a fan or just stand them, it is really worth reading this book either way. Starting with a biography –which didn’t need to be as long in my opinion- of each Python from their childhood to the University years in places like Oxford or Cambridge, the really interesting part of the book begins when they meet and start working together. In a time where the war in Vietnam was the main talk and people were used to a traditional kind of humour, the Monty Python “weird” (as someone called it) type of comedy was clearly a change in the way of not only making comedy but in the way of looking at the world. Things can be funny if you are able to make them funny!
The book is divided into sections and each Python writes through the whole book. Except for Graham Chapman, of course, who unfortunately died in 1989, even so, there is a surprise in the book regarding Chapman but I am not telling.
The structure of the book is aimed at not tiring the reader with obsolete information. It is actually like a permanent conversation or a dialogue and you feel like you are actually listening to the Pythons talk. Anyway, what interest could this book have unless you are not a Monty Python’s fan? None, you are probably thinking, as you
turn the page without reading the rest. Wait. Wait just a few more lines.
The Python’s autobiography is a book that you read in 3 days. How did they come up with the name Monty Python? Well, you will find out about that and about the process that took them to finally get the title for the world famous show “Monty Python’s flying circus”. The first show, the first reactions from the audience and the most fun part: the Pythons’ process of creation.
How on earth could such different men join together and produce anything at all in the form of art? Did they write everything down? Who was the leader in the group? Who was the diplomat? Why and how did it all come to an end?
It is fascinating to find out how hard it is to create comedy and the stages authors go through until they reach what they want. Surprisingly enough the Pythons have made sketches which won’t probably make you laugh, of course, but they have the most brilliant moments in comedy of all times. The relationship between these six men while working is also a treat that you will have to find out by yourself by reading this book. When a group is working together for long hours there can be many problems and it is great to discover the ways these men have found out to cope with issues during the writing of scenes.
Obviously this is not a book where you sit down, open your mouth to laugh and keep laughing until the end. The intention was not that, of course, and that’s also what makes the book even more interesting. It is not a comedy book. It is an autobiography and comedians are not funny 24/7 thank goodness, that is quite scary. They have their own lives, they suffer, they have losses, and of course…they do laugh!
The big no-no in the book (if you buy the English version, which I strongly advise, you cannot read Python in Portuguese…) is the small font size and the background images which in some pages makes the reading hard. If you are not a great fan you will probably skip some pages that may not sound very interesting to you, that’s ok, just make sure you don’t miss the chapter on the creation of the flying circus! The Pythons have their place in History, that is for sure. Now that summer is near, enjoy a nice reading!