Monty Python are a famous British comedy group. An example of cultured humor that has made generations laugh. They are particularly famous in England, but they are also known internationally thanks to the famous film “Monty Python – The Meaning of Life”, which won the Grand Prix du Jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1983.
Graham Chapman, John Cleese and Eric Idle met while studying at Cambridge University: all three are members of the Footlights Theatre Company. Meanwhile, at Oxford, two other young men, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, met in the same way, while Terry Gilliam attended the University of Los Angeles. Monty Python are not jugglers, but young people with a high school diploma (among them there is a doctor, three literature graduates and one in law) and their texts are always of a certain depth, ready to analyze the social moment with irony and wit. John Cleese meets Terry Gilliam in New York and there is immediately an extraordinary professional understanding, which leads to a synergy between the two groups of friends.
The comedy shows
The professional turning point came in 1969 when the BBC offered John Cleese (who was then a regular duo with Chapman) a comedy show. He realized that he needed a slightly larger group of collaborators, as the work was really too big for two people, so he called Palin, who however re-launched his colleague’s proposal: he wanted Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones to join the group. The six members of Monty Python started with this television adventure to work together and officially founded the comedy group.
The show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, ran until December 5, 1974, with great success. The sextet proposed a new way of doing comedy, very free and without the rigid and conventional patterns that characterized the language of that time.
It is precisely this experience, which marks the beginning of a long career and with which the group reaches fame and success. Unfortunately, John Cleese, always in search of novelties and stimuli, decided in the third season to abandon the series, considering that it was now totally exhausted. It lost its momentum and freshness. This farewell, however, was not a farewell and did not lead to the dissolution of the group.
In 1971, taking advantage of the success of the moment, a long version of Flying Circus was created. The cinema was, at the time, the only way for the Pythons to make themselves known abroad. In 1975, the stroke of genius came: to make a film that had a unique plot and that was not the union of a series of episodes of the television series. The title is Monty Python and the Holy Grail and gets a good approval from the public, so much so that in 1979 they also made “The Life of Brian”, which tells the story of Brian, a “contemporary” of Jesus, definitely profane. But the real success came in 1983, when they produced Monty Python – The Meaning of Life, which won the Grand Prix du Jury at the Cannes Film Festival.
The 80’s was the time of the final crowning, but also of the dead end of their comedy: they gave everything and perhaps received even more applause than they imagined, making not only quality products, but giving a new rhythm to humor. In 1989, Graham Chapman died and the Pytons decided to part ways for good, after 20 years of an honorable career. The actors, however, did not stop working, they simply chose to work as soloists, collaborating with each other only a few times. They remain, among other things, united in the management of Python (Monty) Pictures Limited, founded in 1973, a company that deals with the management of works (especially copyrights) made during their career.