Saturday, 20 August 2011

The 25th Anniversary Sweepstake - Who'll Snuff It This Year?

In the run-up to Monty Python's 25th Anniversary celebrations in 1994, Alan Jones penned this article in Issue 10 of 'And Now For Something Completely Different', dismissed by journalist Mark Paytess as being "not as controversial as it thinks it is, and not entirely in the spirit of the original shows."  Did rather spoil the joke for all the chaps up at BALPA House.  Fortunately for all involved the five remaining Pythons are all too lively, many years on.

The 25th Anniversary Sweepstake - Who'll Snuff It This Year?

When Graham Chapman died one day before the 20th Anniversary, the cause was recorded as cancer.  Rubbish.  He died 'cos it was FUNNY.  To keep the joke running along one of the Pythons is undoubtedly going to take out his mortal coil on the 4th October, 1994, but WHICH ONE?  Well, the one for whom it'll be funnier...

ERIC IDLE (16-1)

As far as anyone knows, Eric Idle is currently doing bugger all.  The only people who liked Splitting Heirs were all French.  He was in Missing Pieces.  He was in Too Much Son.  He was in Mom & Dad Save The World.  He's hardly riding on the crest of a wave, in fact a recent Deadpan article on Monty Python described him as 'the other one'.  Since his finest half-hour was sixteen years ago, he can be compared unfavourably to Orson Welles.  Since his death won't result in an uncompleted yet brilliant film, nor would it destroy a career that is being carried along at a frenetic rate, his death just would not be funny, although he was the one that said that after the 25th it would "just be a matter of attending each other's funerals."


Terry Jones is currently working on a major four part documentary on the Crusades for the BBC, and it would be fairly amusing if he suddenly dropped dead with no warning, leaving the series unfinished.  However, since it's a history programme, no one would care except rather dull people.  Apart from that, the likelihood is that the series will be completed by October 4, so instead of being funny, his death would be poignant.

Despite this, a lot of people would remember that he recently stated "Hamer's make the world's best pork and game pies.  It would be an honour to be put in one of their meaty delights when I go."  It would certainly cause giggling and guffawing if someone tried to do this.


'Mellow Mike' (vive le tabloid journalisme) is currently mother's favourite - my mother, your mother, Tarquin's mother, everyone's mother.  They love him for his charm, his niceness, his friendly wit, his niceness, his optimistic confidence, his niceness, his clean cut image, his niceness and the eager way he takes an interest in other people's problems.  It would therefore be absolutely hilarious if he died of a sexually transmitted disease after being caught naked at an orgy in Soho, in the company of six call girls, three Nicaraguan sailors, an Anglican vicar and Frank Bough.  But it ain't gonna happen.  I hear he's working on a novel though, so it'd be funny if he died just before the last and vitally important page was written.


Vance has been desperately trying to get at least one of his films off the ground for some time now.  However, since none are past the development stage it would not be particularly funny if he died now.  But if, on October 3 1994, he gets confirmation that Universal are giving him $50million to make A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court, MGM/UA are giving him $60million to make The Defective Detective and that Warners are giving him $70million to make Don Quixote and then, the next day, he stands in the middle of Highgate dancing in jubilation, and then a bus knocks him down killing him stone dead, then I'd laugh myself silly.


As everybody knows, John Cleese is currently wriring 'Death Fish II' and 'III'.  The incredible success of A Fish Called Wanda means that exorbitant amounts of money are riding on it, people's careers may came or go on the success of it, and already a repulsive number of critics have their hands down their trousers and up Cleese's arse. It would therefore be side-splittingly hilarious if he suddenly decided that pushing up the daisies was a far more viable vocation.


Let's take a few moments to analyse the humour of Python.  What virtually all Python hinges on is the unexpected - a Viking in a cafe, an announcer in the sea, an old lady tripping up a bus, a hairdresser who wants to be a lumberjack, etc.  A vast number of Python sketches are not based on being clever or incisive or witty or sardonic or satirical, they're based on presenting the viewer with an image or an idea that he or she is no expecting.  Now, all things considered, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd say that if Graham Chapman were to be suddenly reincarnated and then somehow killed again, that would be fairly unexpected...

© Alan Jones, 1994.

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