My dad is a huge fan of Monty Python, so I have been exposed to Eric Idle’s music and characters for most of my life. That being said, I haven’t really seen him outside the context of Monty Python, and definitely don’t know as much about him as I do other members. John Cleese, for instance, has appeared in a lot of movies beyond Monty Python, and I’ve read books by both him and Michael Palin before. So I was interested an expanding my Monty Python knowledge and learning a bit more about Eric Idle.
Note: I listened to the audio version of this book, which I highly recommend as it is read by the author and he even sings in a few bits and generally makes it even funnier.
Eric Idle grew up going to a miserable British boarding school, the kind where being cold, hungry and occasionally beaten all comes with the curriculum. From there, he discovered the joys of writing and performing and eventually teams up with the other Pythons. He takes us through the whole journey, warts and all, and gleefully tells stories about various celebrities he met and befriended along the way. Seriously, the George Harrison stories are worth the price of admission alone.
I loved this book because Idle is just so damn happy and charmed by his life. Yes, he’s had setbacks, and he talks honestly about troubles he’s encountered, in both his personal and professional life, but overall there’s just this sense of “wheeee!” in his tone. Not in a bragging way at all — just the acknowledgment that he’s been a lucky guy. He’s been married to the same woman since 1977, and he just glows talking about her. All in all, it’s a funny story about a funny man with a lot of raunchy details, and somehow seems almost…wholesome.