Tag Archives: Eric Idle

The Set of 400: #49 – My Favorite Satanic Romance

Today! Because it’s been six weeks since Saddam Hussein was killed by a pack of wild boars and the world is still glad to be rid of him –

South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (1999)

Directed by Trey Parker

Starring Trey Parker (x2), Matt Stone (x2), Mary Kay Bergman, Isaac Hayes (x2), George Clooney (x5), Brent Spiner (x2), Minnie Driver, Dave Foley, Eric Idle (x3), Mike Judge, Toddy Walters

The first time I saw anything South Park related was after my sister went away to college and somehow acquired a copy of the infamous Spirit of Christmas short – the epic Jesus vs. Santa bloodbath – which helped launched the long running Comedy Central program. At this point, our town hadn’t even gotten cable beyond channel 36 (QVC, incidentally), but the clamor for it was at such an intense volume that I can point to a number of people who would claim their lives completely changed when the lines got run to their houses, and all of a sudden we had multiple dozens of new channels.

I suspect no one under the age of 25 can really understand this now – going from an insanely limited number of options to seemingly everything we could ever want. I mean, we had MTV and VH1 and…A&E, since around 1990, but I remember when we expanded to that batch of channels, nearly tripling our lifetime tally of 13. Obviously getting MTV was the big deal then, considering it had existed for years by that point, but come 1997/8, the stories of all the splendors of extended cable were emanating from big cities, and South Park embodied all the wonders we were missing. I didn’t know what the hell was on E! or Bravo or The Learning Channel (TLC used to be The Learning Channel! Go look at what they air now!), all I knew was that I needed Comedy Central.

There are no bigger sellouts on Earth than TLC

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The Set of 400: #81 – My Favorite Insulting Frenchman

Today! Because this is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let’s not bicker and argue over who killed who –

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Directed by Terry Gilliam (x4) and Terry Jones (x2)

Starring Graham Chapman (x2), John Cleese (x3), Eric Idle (x2), Michael Palin (x4), Terry Gilliam (x2), Terry Jones (x2), Connie Booth, Carol Cleveland, John Young, Sandy Johnson

For the longest time, the only Monty Python product I liked was Life of Brian. Meaning of Life then and now is a little too all over the place for me, Holy Grail I felt was bizarrely over-praised, and I had no access to the Flying Circus whatsoever. Really, circa 1992, how were people seeing that show? Did it still air late on PBS? Because I just never saw it. Even now you never see it on television, so you better pony up for that gigantic DVD collection!

But in time, I came around to the cult of Holy Grail. I was probably rejecting it for its massive popularity until I was well along in college. Like, everyone knew that one guy who would quote this movie endlessly, and out of context The Knights Who Say Ni just aren’t funny. Hell, most Monty Python bits aren’t funny when your dumb buddies are dead-parroting the lines. No one much seemed to talk about Life of Brian, so for reasons discussed back in #251, that was the one I adopted early. My gateway into Holy Grail, oddly enough, was straight up buying the DVD around 2002 – because I was still buying a lot of discs in those pre-streaming days (Okay, I still buy a few here and there). On that Special Edition was a closed caption feature “Subtitles for People Who Don’t Like the Film (taken from Shakespeare’s Henry IV, part II)” which I found hilarious, and ended up getting me solidly hooked on the movie. Weird, right?

I don’t know, this just squarely appealed to me

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The Set of 400: #251 – My Favorite One Cross Each

Today! Because he’s not the Messiah! He’s a very naughty boy –

Life of Brian (1979)

Directed by Terry Jones

Starring Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Sue Jones-Davies, Kenneth Colley, Spike Milligan

For the better part of my life, I swore I was more a Life of Brian Python fan than a Holy Grail one. And maybe coincidentally (but maybe not), for the better part of this same period of time, I considered myself somewhat more religious than I do now. I mean, I’m still kinda religious, in a very basic way, but not, like, going to church on Sunday and helping them fund the lawsuits. Still, I think when you’re more ingrained in the whole God culture, Life of Brian resonates in a wholly different way. Eight years of Catholic school, folks!

Nowadays, well – not to spoil it, but Holy Grail is a good distance down the road on this list, while Life of Brian is here. Not to take anything away from this movie – it’s still hilarious – but previously I regarded this movie as a brilliant, incendiary dismantling of organized religion and their somewhat ridiculous origin stories. In watching now, it doesn’t quite hit those notes as hard for me, and in comparison to the much more quotable and iconic Holy Grail, it pales a bit as a movie. Blow-for-blow it may be funnier, and has a far more satisfying ending, but doesn’t feel quite as earth shaking as it did when I was fifteen.

Still, that ending!

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