The Best Thing Each Monty Python Member Has Done Since the Series Ended
Despite setting a lot of us up for massive disappointment when we finally visited England for real (not a single Ministry of Silly Walks, and all the cheese shops actually carry cheese?), we still love Monty Python. They're the "Beatles of Comedy," you know, if the Beatles had forcibly reunited later in life to pay off legal debts and alimony bills.
But as good as they were as a group, once Monty Python’s Flying Circus wrapped up, the gang started pouring their talents into other projects. But which ones were the best? We’ve endeavored to determine each Python member’s greatest post-Flying Circus, non-Python movies and TV shows, starting with…
Eric Idle, ‘The Rutles’
Pre-dating This Is Spinal Tap by six years, Idle wrote and co-directed this Beatles-inspired TV mockumentary about a fictional rock band known as The Rutles, the legendary group behind hit songs such as “Cheese and Onions” and “Ouch!”
Sure, the parody is a tad hard on Yoko (whose fictional surrogate is a straight-up neo-Nazi), but it’s mostly great and populated with cameos from members of the original Saturday Night Live cast, plus Michael Palin shows up. Even George Harrison drops by to help lampoon his own legend. Plus, the songs by frequent Python collaborator and Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band member Neil Innes are legitimately catchy.
Graham Chapman, ‘The Odd Job’
Sadly, Chapman didn't star in many projects outside of the Monty Python films. One film that did prominently feature Chapman, which he also wrote, was 1978’s The Odd Job, a quirky black comedy about a depressed man who hires some rando to assassinate him but then changes his mind. The movie would probably be more widely known had drummer/explosives enthusiast Keith Moon played the part of the stranger, as Chapman originally intended.
Terry Jones, ‘Labyrinth’
It’s no secret that Jones wasn't super-happy with Labyrinth — after all, it’s hard to imagine that the words “Close-Up on David Bowie’s lycra-bound ballsack” appeared anywhere in his screenplay. But still, Jones’ distinctive humor and flair for original fantasy storytelling (also showcased in movies like Erik the Viking) are clearly the engine behind this nostalgic favorite.
Terry Gilliam, ‘The Fisher King’
Gilliam has obviously made a number of acclaimed movies over the years, such as Brazil and Time Bandits, but we’d argue that his very best is The Fisher King, the touching, funny, utterly unique 1991 comedy-drama about a former shock jock, played by Jeff Bridges, who seeks redemption by helping an unhoused schizophrenic (Robin Williams) complete a mythical quest.
Michael Palin, ‘A Fish Called Wanda’
Palin accomplished a lot after his Python duties became more sporadic — he had a whole second career as a great travel host and author who was also one of the Knights Who Say “Ni.”
But if we’re talking about his very best work, it’s hard to top Palin’s performance as the animal lover turned accidental animal murderer Ken in A Fish Called Wanda. Sure, it was John Cleese’s script, and Kevin Kline won an Oscar for playing the psychotic Otto, but the movie just wouldn’t work without Palin.
John Cleese, ‘Fawlty Towers’
Look, we’d love to recommend some of Cleese’s more obscure offerings, like his nudity-filled Chekhov adaptation Romance with a Double Bass or the underrated 1980s farce Clockwise. But how could we not go with the masterful Fawlty Towers, the iconic series, penned by Cleese and Connie Booth, about a shambolic hotel run by an embittered man struggling for upper-class acceptance and impotently raging against a shifting culture he doesn’t understand — after all, in retrospect, it was inadvertently autobiographical.
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