Wed. Sep 28th, 2022

Terry Jones bespeelt het orgel <i>au naturel</i> at Monty Python’s "Blackmail" sketch.”/><figcaption class=

enlarge Terry Jones plays the organ au naturel in Monty Python’s “Blackmail” sketch.

Python (Monty) Pictures | BBC

Terry Jones of Monty Python died on January 21 at the age of 77 at his home in London.

Born in Colwyn Bay, Wales, Jones got his comedy start at Oxford University, where he starred in revues with fellow future Monty Python member Michael Palin. After graduating, he worked as a writer on a handful of BBC shows, including: The Frost Reportand he performed Do not modify your set like The Complete and Complete History of Great Britain† But it was his work with Python that he is most remembered for.

During Python’s original four-year run, Jones generally wrote with Michael Palin, and the two would bring their work-in-progress to the entire group to peruse and practice the material. (John Cleese and Graham Chapman also wrote together, while Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam generally worked alone.) It was in that melting pot that Jones, along with the other Pythons, honed their sketching and comedic timing skills to create timeless to produce comedy.

Seeing Monty Python was actually quite a task. I was probably 11 or 12 years old when I became aware of the pioneering British comedy group, and Monty Python’s Flying Circus was an instant viewing appointment for me at KRMA, Denver’s PBS branch. The problem was the timing. I could stay up until Python started at 10pm on a Saturday night, but I had to slog through uninspiring TV to get there. But when the opening sorts of “The Liberty Bell March” started playing, the trauma of hearing Hervé Villechaize say “Da Plane! Da Plane!” in Fantasy Island disappeared while waiting to watch Python.

Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones of Monty Python in 2014 for a series of live performances in London.
enlarge Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones of Monty Python in 2014 for a series of live performances in London.

Philip Toscano/PA Pictures

Jones was not my favorite Python. Unlike John Cleese, who was often a simmering cauldron of barely suppressed anger, and Eric Idle’s iconic grubby, sketchy dudes, Jones always felt more like a comedy generalist. It’s easy for me to pick a favorite Idle, Cleese, Palin, or Chapman sketch. For Jones, however, it is more the memory of his dressing up as a middle-aged woman and carrying his lyrics in a high falsetto voice, as he did to hilarious effect as the mother of the false messiah in Brian’s life† Or playing the ignorant straight man in skits like “Candid Photography” while politely putting up with Eric Idle’s “nudge nudge” chatter, that stays with me. But whatever the role, Jones threw himself into it — even if that meant playing a naked organist in one of my favorite Python sketches, “Blackmail.”

In addition to writing and performing with Python, Jones co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Terry Gilliam and stood behind (and in front of) the camera in front Brian’s life and The meaning of life† Post-Python, Jones directed Erik the Viking and The wind in the willows and wrote the screenplay for 1986 Labyrinth† Jones also developed a keen interest in medieval history, eventually writing a few books about Chaucer-era England and presenting some history documentaries.

Jones was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia in 2016, which caused him to lose his ability to speak, among other things. He is survived by his second wife, Anne Soderstrom, as well as his three children.

By akfire1

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