John Cleese and Eric Idle let hard-won American fans inside the workings of Monty Python | Comedy | Indy Week
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John Cleese and Eric Idle let hard-won American fans inside the workings of Monty Python 

Walking with the angels: Eric Idle at the 2012 Olympics

Photo courtesy of cleeseandidle.com

Walking with the angels: Eric Idle at the 2012 Olympics

It's practically a rite of passage for people to venture to Florida later in life. The Golden Girls did it. Burt Reynolds did it. Your grandparents did it (if they haven't yet, they're planning to). Even folks who aren't from this country make a beeline to the Sunshine State when they're getting up there in years.

That's what John Cleese and Eric Idle, comic icons and founding members of Monty Python's Flying Circus, did when they wanted to work out a touring show in the U.S. Instead of a destination, Florida was the starting point for a new adventure.

"I had never been to Florida, so I was very happy," says Idle, 72, on the phone from a car on the Florida Turnpike. "The audiences are very kind, generous, and they've been laughing a lot."

The pair is spending all of October taking the partly interactive show John Cleese and Eric Idle: Together Again at Last ... For the Very First Time throughout the South, including two nights at DPAC.

"We do bits of everything, really," Idle says of the show. "We call it an 'IKEA tour.' We bring all the parts and the audience screws it together. There's bits of reminiscence, bits where we talk about sketches, and then we perform sketches." You can expect some "rude songs," too.

Because the 75-year-old Cleese, who lives in England, and Idle, who lives in Los Angeles, did many familiar Python bits during a run of reunion shows at London's O2 Arena last year, Idle says they didn't want to come with the same ol' same ol'—maybe especially because that reunion was also billed as a farewell.

"We're trying to keep it fresh and we move it around a lot, and there are bits of Q-and-A at times in Act 2," Idle says. "We try to make it different every night."

Both men are also using the tour to promote their latest books. Cleese's 2014 memoir, So, Anyway ..., has just been released in paperback, while Idle's third novel, The Writer's Cut: A Post-Ironic Novel, just came out.

But even though they're published authors now, Idle and Cleese still get that need to entertain fans. It's the least they can do because, as Idle says, the Python crew initially thought Americans would never get their humor. But at this point, it's amazing that we made it through this article without quoting a famous line.

"People don't pigeonhole you as much here. I never would have written Spamalot in England," Idle says, referring to the Monty Python musical that recently played at Raleigh Little Theatre. "I think it's completely inexplicable that a late-night show we did on British television should still be quoted and quoted by more and more people. Our audiences now are three generations. It's extraordinary to me."

This article appeared in print with the headline "Victory lap"

  • Cleese and Idle bring their partly interactive show to DPAC Oct. 28 and 29

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