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Inside the Messy World of Monty Python: Conflicts, Money Problems, and a Tarnished Legacy

CEO Tinh Phung
And now, for something completely different from the lovable sextet (Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images) Love them or loathe them, Monty Python is undeniably one of the most influential comedy groups in history. Formed in...

Monty Python TV And now, for something completely different from the lovable sextet (Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Love them or loathe them, Monty Python is undeniably one of the most influential comedy groups in history. Formed in 1969 by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin, they pioneered a surrealist brand of comedy that remains iconic to this day.

Each of the six founding members became household names, with the Pythons quickly transitioning from quick sketches to the launch of their wildly successful BBC series, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. This groundbreaking show gave them full creative control, allowing them to produce something weird and wonderful that had never been seen before.

The group soon ventured into the world of film, releasing the acclaimed 1975 movie Holy Grail, followed by Life of Brian in 1979 and The Meaning of Life in 1983. Their influence in comedy has been compared to the impact of The Beatles in music. Whether you're familiar with their work or not, you're sure to recognize at least a few of their quotes, as they have permeated popular culture with hundreds of references.

However, it's difficult to maintain a positive outlook when everything the Pythons worked towards is at risk of being tarnished. Throughout their 50-year career, the group has faced numerous conflicts and money problems that have strained their relationships.

Most recently, Eric Idle, now 80, has expressed his discontent with the way the group has been managed, calling it a "disaster." He revealed that the associated money has long dried up, and he no longer maintains a friendship with John Cleese, 84. In response to a fan's question about the financial success of the musical stage show Spamalot, Idle stated, "I don't know why people always assume we're loaded. Python is a disaster. Spamalot made money 20 years ago."

Idle's daughter, Lily, supported his sentiments and praised him for speaking out against perceived injustices. This public feud further exemplifies the deep-seated conflicts within the group.

The publication of Michael Palin's diaries from 1969 to 1979 shed light on the infighting among the Pythons. Palin expressed resentment towards Idle, claiming that he did not pull his weight in the show's success. He also discussed the tensions between John Cleese and Eric Idle, as they saw Monty Python as a means to an end, while others viewed it as an end in itself.

The diaries also addressed Graham Chapman's battle with alcoholism, which had a significant impact on the group's dynamics. Chapman's struggles with substance abuse were exacerbated by his fame and the pressures of being a part of Monty Python.

Amidst the conflicts and personal struggles, the Pythons have also faced controversies. Their content often pushed boundaries and triggered complaints and bans. Their 1980 album, "Contractual Obligation," was blocked from TV advertisements by the Independent Television Companies Association, who labeled the group "crude in the extreme."

The most notorious controversy came with the release of "Life of Brian," a film that was deemed blasphemous by many. It faced bans and protests in several countries for its portrayal of Christianity and its provocative final scenes. The film's themes, including trans jokes, continue to spark debate and discussion today.

It's important to note that the legacy of Monty Python has also been tainted by the personal controversies of its members. John Cleese has faced criticism for his statements on "woke culture" and "political correctness," while Terry Gilliam's comments about the MeToo movement and his controversial opinions have drawn backlash.

With feuds, financial troubles, and mounting controversies, the legacy of Monty Python finds itself on shaky ground. As fans, it's essential to recognize the complicated nature of their journey and appreciate the comedic brilliance they brought to the world. Monty Python will forever be remembered as trailblazers in the world of comedy, but it's clear that behind the scenes, the reality was far from the idealized image of friendship and camaraderie.

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