I suddenly find myself on a huge Monty Python kick, although it's an odd kick in that I haven't watched any of the shows or movies yet. But I'm dying to, for some reason. It's probably been about twenty years since I really saw the series, and easily as long since I've seen both Life of Brian and Meaning of Life. Holy Grail is the only thing I don't feel an overwhelming need to watch, because like most nerds of my generation, I just ran that one into the ground in my teens - seriously, probably as many viewings of that as of Star Wars for me, back in the day.
So I guess it would be more accurate to say I'm on the verge of a huge Python kick, which is a strange thing to say, but what the hell.
It's not even that big retrospective from Bravo that aired a few months back that did it, since I didn't even see that (although I'd very much like to - note to self: Blockbuster Queue). It's more my habit of grabbing a book off the shelves of my library at random - whatever looks like it would pass for good 'me time' reading. If you get my euphemism. And this week's edition is that giant Python book that came out about a decade ago - sort of their version of the Beatles Anthology book, same quotes and format and overdesign and everything.
And reading it made me remember why I loved Python so much in the first place, and probably why wimpy nerds like me all were drawn to them: the Pythons were - to a man - brilliant. I don't mean in just the comedic sense, which they obviously were. I mean in the sense that they were all smart, articulate, highly-educated men who would have been successful in any field they chose. In this book, they operate in that rarefied air of people who can explain what it is that they're doing and not in any way ruin your enjoyment of it - sort of like the Penn & Teller of comedy, I guess.
Certainly, there's no shortage of comedians who like to pick apart and cerebralize what they do - it's practically a genre unto itself, comedians talking comedy (witness the vast number who appeared in The Aristocrats). But mostly they just come off as wonks talking shop. Which can be entertaining and even enlightening, but never transcendent. Python did something so unique and (apparently) unrepeatable that reading about the process and personalities becomes a part of it, much like the story of the Beatles is very much a part of what the Beatles were about.
No doubt my viewing and appreciation of Dr. Parnassus fed into this revival of interest for me, and I'll therefore be adding Gilliam's ages of man trilogy to the pile to watch - like an after diner mint. Although I really couldn't eat another bite.