Monty Python Superfan King Charles Wanted Eric Idle to Be His Personal Jester
Unless it’s either dramatized as a binge-worthy Netflix show or involves a slovenly John Goodman inheriting the throne and belting out “Good Golly Miss Molly,” many of us can’t be bothered to give a half a scone about the machinations of the royal family. However, this weekend is the Coronation of King Charles III, an event full of pomp and circumstance, all in the service of a monarch who arguably commands less respect than the Burger King mascot.
One thing lost in the tabloid gibberish about Charles is that he’s a huge comedy fan — meaning that there’s a not-insignificant chance that he saw that Saturday Night Live sketch where Dana Carvey impersonates him, and is transmogrified into a sentient tampon.
Charles was even a member of the Cambridge Footlights, the legendary student comedy troupe that helped launch the careers of Hugh Laurie, Richard Ayoade and Sacha Baron Cohen. Judging from the surviving footage of his slapstick performances, Charles made the right call, eschewing the stage for a career as a worthless colonial dinosaur.
Either way, Charles is an avowed appreciator of classic British comedy, including The Goon Show and Monty Python; the latter even got a shout-out in his recent speech addressing the German parliament. Charles’ Python fandom is so great that, according to Eric Idle, he once asked the comedian to take a job as his personal court jester.
As Idle recounted in his book Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, he met then-Prince Charles during a dinner party at Billy Connolly’s house, which also featured famous guests such as Robin Williams — because, as Idle put it, the “Royal Heir loves comedians.” At one point, Charles turned to Idle and said, “Eric, why don’t you become my jester?” As the rest of the room watched Idle with anticipation, he eventually replied, “Why would I want a fucking awful job like that?”
Despite his flippant response, Idle admitted that he was secretly “very flattered,” noting that Charles responded by laughing rather than, say, demanding his immediate beheading.
You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this).