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From the ingenious comic performer, founding member of Monty Python, and creator of Spamalot, comes an absurdly funny memoir of unparalleled wit and heartfelt candor We know him best for his unforgettable roles on Monty Python--from the Flying Circus to The Meaning of Life. Now, Eric Idle reflects on the meaning of his own life in this entertaining memoir that takes us on From the ingenious comic performer, founding member of Monty Python, and creator of Spamalot, comes an absurdly funny memoir of unparalleled wit and heartfelt candor We know him best for his unforgettable roles on Monty Python--from the Flying Circus to The Meaning of Life. Now, Eric Idle reflects on the meaning of his own life in this entertaining memoir that takes us on an unforgettable journey from his childhood in an austere boarding school through his successful career in comedy, television, theater, and film. Coming of age as a writer and comedian during the Sixties and Seventies, Eric stumbled into the crossroads of the cultural revolution and found himself rubbing shoulders with the likes of George Harrison, David Bowie, and Robin Williams, all of whom became dear lifelong friends. With anecdotes sprinkled throughout involving other close friends and luminaries such as Mike Nichols, Mick Jagger, Steve Martin, Paul Simon, Lorne Michaels, and many more, as well as the Pythons themselves, Eric captures a time of tremendous creative output with equal parts hilarity and heart. In Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, named for the song he wrote for Life of Brian (the film which he originally gave the irreverent title Jesus Christ: Lust for Glory) and that has since become the number one song played at funerals in the UK, he shares the highlights of his life and career with the kind of offbeat humor that has delighted audiences for five decades. The year 2019 marks the fiftieth anniversary of The Pythons, and Eric is marking the occasion with this hilarious memoir chock full of behind-the-scenes stories from a high-flying life featuring everyone from Princess Leia to Queen Elizabeth.


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From the ingenious comic performer, founding member of Monty Python, and creator of Spamalot, comes an absurdly funny memoir of unparalleled wit and heartfelt candor We know him best for his unforgettable roles on Monty Python--from the Flying Circus to The Meaning of Life. Now, Eric Idle reflects on the meaning of his own life in this entertaining memoir that takes us on From the ingenious comic performer, founding member of Monty Python, and creator of Spamalot, comes an absurdly funny memoir of unparalleled wit and heartfelt candor We know him best for his unforgettable roles on Monty Python--from the Flying Circus to The Meaning of Life. Now, Eric Idle reflects on the meaning of his own life in this entertaining memoir that takes us on an unforgettable journey from his childhood in an austere boarding school through his successful career in comedy, television, theater, and film. Coming of age as a writer and comedian during the Sixties and Seventies, Eric stumbled into the crossroads of the cultural revolution and found himself rubbing shoulders with the likes of George Harrison, David Bowie, and Robin Williams, all of whom became dear lifelong friends. With anecdotes sprinkled throughout involving other close friends and luminaries such as Mike Nichols, Mick Jagger, Steve Martin, Paul Simon, Lorne Michaels, and many more, as well as the Pythons themselves, Eric captures a time of tremendous creative output with equal parts hilarity and heart. In Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, named for the song he wrote for Life of Brian (the film which he originally gave the irreverent title Jesus Christ: Lust for Glory) and that has since become the number one song played at funerals in the UK, he shares the highlights of his life and career with the kind of offbeat humor that has delighted audiences for five decades. The year 2019 marks the fiftieth anniversary of The Pythons, and Eric is marking the occasion with this hilarious memoir chock full of behind-the-scenes stories from a high-flying life featuring everyone from Princess Leia to Queen Elizabeth.

30 review for Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Robert Collins

    Born in South Shields which for me explains a lot because that makes him A Shiely Dogger.A mad jolly sod from Shields. The biggiest disappoint is that there is nothing about One Foot in The Grave , a surprise as was in it & did the theme song . It is the missing bits that let you down, he has been married 41 years but they don't sleep together but in different parts of the house, that was in Sunday Times on 2/12/18 so it is not wonderful marriage he claims here. Eric grew up hating Christmas Born in South Shields which for me explains a lot because that makes him A Shiely Dogger.A mad jolly sod from Shields. The biggiest disappoint is that there is nothing about One Foot in The Grave , a surprise as was in it & did the theme song . It is the missing bits that let you down, he has been married 41 years but they don't sleep together but in different parts of the house, that was in Sunday Times on 2/12/18 so it is not wonderful marriage he claims here. Eric grew up hating Christmas as his father survived WWII but On Christmas eve 1945 was killed outside Darlington. This goes from public schools to His mad days with David Jason, Peter Cooke his life long friendship with David Bowie & Robin Williams to ending up like his Grandfather in A circus to how Look on the bright side is played at funerals This great book my copy is is signed. Full of rare b/w Photos & collection of colour too. So If want to be a lumber jack or love spam look on the bright side nudge nudge wink wink no what I mean The getting soaked while filming The Holy Grail, trying to sign coconuts & John Leaving to make ghastly TV series about boring Hotel manger which all thought sound ghastly. The birth of his son to Canada this light easy to read book. It is the things about Life of Brian That never knew that make this book good & course famous joke if ban a thing its going to go to the top, they banned Lady Chatterley, sold in paper bags, banned in 1960s Library's Charlie & the Chocolate factory with two movies on proving power of banning, the main song is popular all thanks to the Pope banning it. We move on to his 2nd marriage to a Playboy cover girl some People are lucky, his daughter at 50 the Nuns on the Run, Wind in the Willows, the flop of Yellowbeard which I liked & arriving in America. This gets tiny bit depressing in last part with loss of Robin Williams who killed himself but Was ill with Lewy dementia (& no I don't get what it is ) which sounds horrible no Eric does not explain it. I think you'll have to try Google it. Always look on the Bright side of life even when the nails of life have been hammered in.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Montzalee Wittmann

    Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography by Eric Idle is an Audible book I picked up from the library. I always loved The Monty Python gang and all their crazy movies. Idle takes you back to his childhood, and goes from there. It is so interesting how his tough early life leads to a life filled with good and famous friends. Through this book we also get a closer look at a lot of his close friends and associated too! It is wonderful to get to know these people so closely. Robin Wil Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography by Eric Idle is an Audible book I picked up from the library. I always loved The Monty Python gang and all their crazy movies. Idle takes you back to his childhood, and goes from there. It is so interesting how his tough early life leads to a life filled with good and famous friends. Through this book we also get a closer look at a lot of his close friends and associated too! It is wonderful to get to know these people so closely. Robin Williams, George Harrison, and so many more! He tells about rough times too, his mistakes, heartache,and the best of times. This is a look into the heart of this man and into the lives of many! He narrates it so it is fantastic and truly amazing!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Always a Look on the Bright Side of Life is Eric Idle's sort of autobiography. Of course, we all know him as part of the fire-breathing comedic troupe, Monty Python, famed for a long running tv show and a series of uproariously funny movies that have become a part of our culture and collective memory. At its best, this book shines when Idle's wit comes out such as talking about his childhood in the orphanage and sneaking out. That's that sly British wit for ya. Once the troupe achieved success, Always a Look on the Bright Side of Life is Eric Idle's sort of autobiography. Of course, we all know him as part of the fire-breathing comedic troupe, Monty Python, famed for a long running tv show and a series of uproariously funny movies that have become a part of our culture and collective memory. At its best, this book shines when Idle's wit comes out such as talking about his childhood in the orphanage and sneaking out. That's that sly British wit for ya. Once the troupe achieved success, his life became like that of a rockstar and he constantly hung out with all the celebs. I would have liked to hear more about the creative development of the various skits and less of the hobnobbing. Surprisingly, he had a lifelong friendship with George Harrison who funded Life of Brian. Elvis was such a huge fan he apparently used to do some of the crazy voices. Many thanks to Penguin Publishing for providing a copy for review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Vivian

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... And through it all Idle managed to find a way to laugh, and make others laugh, too. I don't know if you've ever tried to sign a coconut, and why would you, but it's not easy. Idle is naturally funny and the tone is conversational and he dishes. Name dropping left and right, down right gossipy in bits, but always in good spirit. Never malicious, and I guess that's what I enjoyed so much while reading it. It made me smile, and chuckle more than It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... And through it all Idle managed to find a way to laugh, and make others laugh, too. I don't know if you've ever tried to sign a coconut, and why would you, but it's not easy. Idle is naturally funny and the tone is conversational and he dishes. Name dropping left and right, down right gossipy in bits, but always in good spirit. Never malicious, and I guess that's what I enjoyed so much while reading it. It made me smile, and chuckle more than a time or two. He makes the world seem smaller and some tremendously famous people more human. Plus, you get all the funny tidbits about Monty Python. Both Graham and John refused to run across the bridge that spans "the Gorge of Eternal Peril." To be fair, the Bridge of Death was terrifying. It was erected by Everest mountaineer Hamish McInnes and his local mountain rescue team. I for one certainly would never have crossed it, but fortunately my character Robin was killed before I had to. And Idle speaks lovingly of some great and enduring friendships throughout the book and how losing these people diminished joy.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ericka Seidemann

    I grew up watching Flying Circus, and loved it, even though I was really too young to understand or decipher the accents (“Spam” notwithstanding). I’ve passed my love of Monty Python onto my kids, even visiting Doune castle to buy coconuts and recreate Holy Grail (with my daughter playing Terry Gilliam, I as Graham Chapman), like thousands of other daft tourists. Your face will ache from smiling while reading this, and it’s chock full of name-dropping, which, TBH, is everyone’s secret shameful r I grew up watching Flying Circus, and loved it, even though I was really too young to understand or decipher the accents (“Spam” notwithstanding). I’ve passed my love of Monty Python onto my kids, even visiting Doune castle to buy coconuts and recreate Holy Grail (with my daughter playing Terry Gilliam, I as Graham Chapman), like thousands of other daft tourists. Your face will ache from smiling while reading this, and it’s chock full of name-dropping, which, TBH, is everyone’s secret shameful reason for reading a celebrity memoir (AmIRightAmIRight – NudgeNudge!) And there are lots of photos, which I appreciated. This book made me laugh out loud while I was sneak-reading at my kid’s Open House at his elementary school. Whoops. I loved all the anecdotes of Eric hanging out with famous people, and the backstory of how many sketches came to be. I even learned about some projects of his that I was unaware of, having been unfortunately born too late (stupid 1975) and in the wrong country (stupid Yank) to encounter many of them on the BBC. I paused many times while reading to get on YouTube and catch up. Eric’s kind heart is obvious, as shown through his endearing friendships with George Harrison and Robin Williams, not to mention all the Pythons. He’s had a rich life full of love and good friends. Laughter really does bring people together. I’d love to hang out with him sometime. I’ll even supply the booze. If you love Python, or saw the title of this book and began to whistle, or just know him as the guy from the Figment ride at DisneyWorld, you can’t go wrong with this one. It’s entertaining, hilarious, and insightful. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Penguin First to Read for the advance copy in exchange for my review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ran

    According to Eric Idle, his song in Life of Brian entitled "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" took on a life of its own following the release of that Monty Python cult classic. As a comedian and songwriter, Eric seemingly recounts every time he was asked to sing the song to an irreverent crowd of fans in this sortabiography. Also, there is some seriously casual namedropping within this work. He shines an additional light (as if it were necessary) on the members of Monty Python - and even s According to Eric Idle, his song in Life of Brian entitled "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" took on a life of its own following the release of that Monty Python cult classic. As a comedian and songwriter, Eric seemingly recounts every time he was asked to sing the song to an irreverent crowd of fans in this sortabiography. Also, there is some seriously casual namedropping within this work. He shines an additional light (as if it were necessary) on the members of Monty Python - and even sneaks in my favorite ex-non-officio member, Eddie Izzard in the interview Live at Aspen. Idle also spends time remembering his deep friendship with George Harrison. Either way, this work is a pretty lighthearted read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I was so disappointed in reading this autobiography. It was 250 pages of name-dropping pretension and I came away from it with little respect for Eric Idle. He glossed over his childhood and Flying Circus in the first 30 pages and the rest of the book was comprised of summaries of parties with people we’re all supposed to have heard of. There was no self-reflection or analysis of his life. When he talked about his divorce from his first wife, after delightedly regaling his readers with stories o I was so disappointed in reading this autobiography. It was 250 pages of name-dropping pretension and I came away from it with little respect for Eric Idle. He glossed over his childhood and Flying Circus in the first 30 pages and the rest of the book was comprised of summaries of parties with people we’re all supposed to have heard of. There was no self-reflection or analysis of his life. When he talked about his divorce from his first wife, after delightedly regaling his readers with stories of his unfaithfulness for chapters and chapters on end, he said he probably should claim “much responsibility” for end of his marriage. No hint of regret for the pain he caused his ex-wife and young son. Skip this book if you want to continue liking Eric Idle. If you’re looking for a great Python autobiography, check out “So Anyway” by John Cleese.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alisa

    Eric Idle tells the story of his career as a comedian and a beloved member of Monty Python with the wit, grace, and humor one might expect. He offers a glimpse into his personal life, the not-always-wise choices he made, and some of his enduring relationships with a few famous (George Harrison, Robin Williams) and others who are not household names. Hard to believe that Monty Python is marking their 50 year anniversary! Humor, silliness, and laughter in the end saves us all. Fun biography.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Malum

    I like Monty Python well enough, although I am certainly not a super fan. Because of that, I didn't know quite what to expect going in to this biography. I have always felt that Idle always seems really happy and fun (as opposed to eternally grumpy John Cleese), and this biography went a long way in confirming that. He has something funny to say about almost everything. His dad died while hitchhiking home from WWII at Christmas? There is a joke for that. He got the crap kicked out of him by his I like Monty Python well enough, although I am certainly not a super fan. Because of that, I didn't know quite what to expect going in to this biography. I have always felt that Idle always seems really happy and fun (as opposed to eternally grumpy John Cleese), and this biography went a long way in confirming that. He has something funny to say about almost everything. His dad died while hitchhiking home from WWII at Christmas? There is a joke for that. He got the crap kicked out of him by his teachers in school? So many laughs to be had. He had all of his things stolen while backpacking in a foreign country? Hilarity. He destroyed his first marriage by being a selfish poon hound? I'm rolling on the floor. The only thing he doesn't joke about, however, is his friend George Harrison's stabbing and later death from cancer. It was an extremely somber moment in the book and you can really feel how much Idle loved Harrison. If I had any complaints about this sortabiography, it would be that it is way too short. The book is immensely readable and just flies by, but there are so many stories and moments from his life that I want to know more about, while he just touches on them before whisking us off to another hilarious moment in his life.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Now this was exceptional! I have always loved the Monty Python boys, and their work, but if hard pressed I would usually declare myself a Michael Palin girl. Palin's diaries of the Python years, by the way, are a great read as well. But I may have to rethink my loyalty now as I come to understand how much of their truly great material was written by Idle. I had thought that more of it was a join effort, but a lot of my favorites, and a good chunk of the songs, were written by Idle, including bot Now this was exceptional! I have always loved the Monty Python boys, and their work, but if hard pressed I would usually declare myself a Michael Palin girl. Palin's diaries of the Python years, by the way, are a great read as well. But I may have to rethink my loyalty now as I come to understand how much of their truly great material was written by Idle. I had thought that more of it was a join effort, but a lot of my favorites, and a good chunk of the songs, were written by Idle, including both the titular Always Look On the Bright Side of Life, as well as The Lumberjack song. He's also the genius behind one of my favorite comedies as a youth: Nuns on the Run. (If you have not seen Nuns on the Run, starring Idle and Robbie "Hagrid" Coltrane as mobsters hiding in a convent, TREAT YO SELF.) That's not to say that he's bragging. Oh, no, he's quite matter-of-fact as he recounts how the various songs and skits came about, how he came to write Spamalot (which was also almost entirely him), and other things. He's also had the MOST INSANE LIFE in that, almost by random chance, he has become friends with some of the most astonishing people. George Harrison was his dearest friend from their meeting at the premiere of Holy Grail until George's death. Robin Williams, Steve Martin, Joni Mitchell, Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson, Dan Ackroyd. His memories, his anecdotes, are absolutely a who's-who of comedians, actors, and musicians! He got Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford drunk on Tunisian alcohol he discovered during the filming of Life of Brian, and they are, according to him, still visibly drunk in the scene where they arrive at Cloud City to meet Lando Calrissian! Mick Jagger called him up one year as he was about to leave for Barbados for Christmas and asked if he could come along so that the Idles could "hide" Mick and Jerry Hall, whom Mick had just seduced away from an enraged Brian Ferry! Basically, it's everything you could want from a celebrity tell all, and yet LOVELY. I can only think of one story that is unflattering to anyone (*cough*Deeprak Chopra is a prat*cough*). Instead Idle writes with love, with kindness, with admiration, and above all with humor, about the people and events that have shaped his life. He freely admits to his own mistakes, he brushes aside his own jealousies and frustrations in favor of telling the story that will make the reader smile, laugh, and even tear up. (I have never cared one way or the other about George Harrison, but I was ugly crying at the gym over his tribute to him.) Absolutely a must-read for comedy fans, Python fans, or just celeb bio fans!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    A few laughs and some unbidden whistling, a great way to kick off the New Year: Always look on the bright side of life If life seems jolly rotten, There's something you've forgotten! And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing, When you're feeling in the dumps, Don't be silly chumps, Just purse your lips and whistle -- that's the thing! And always look on the bright side of life

  12. 4 out of 5

    David Wineberg

    Eric Idle doesn’t seem to know anyone who isn’t famous. Everywhere he goes or lives, the famous turn up as neighbors or partiers. If The Rolling Stones knock on the door at midnight, it’s just another night wherever the Idles happen to be. Elvis Presley a huge fan who imitates Monty Python characters in bed? Par for the course. Getting married in Lorne Michael’s midtown apartment followed by the reception at Paul Simon’s place, or living in Dan Aykroyd’s Bowery loft – just business as usual. How Eric Idle doesn’t seem to know anyone who isn’t famous. Everywhere he goes or lives, the famous turn up as neighbors or partiers. If The Rolling Stones knock on the door at midnight, it’s just another night wherever the Idles happen to be. Elvis Presley a huge fan who imitates Monty Python characters in bed? Par for the course. Getting married in Lorne Michael’s midtown apartment followed by the reception at Paul Simon’s place, or living in Dan Aykroyd’s Bowery loft – just business as usual. How about having dinner with Billy Connolly and Prince Charles calls and asks if could come over and join them. George Harrison wants to pop in for the Lumberjack song. It is endless. It even seems like everyone he went to school with became a prominent celebrity. They all helped each other achieve stardom. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, indeed. It reminds me of the Peter Cook-Dudley Moore sketch Bloody Greta Garbo. It’s too absurd to be remotely true, but that’s the life of Eric Idle. He says. This collection of memoirs is about as positive as anything can be. Idle got break after break, got swept along to bigger and better things and was continually invited to new ventures, where he succeeded to great acclaim his first time out, be it sketch writing, film, opera, records or Broadway. Oh. And everyone adores him. Idle loves adding adjectives before names. Everyone is amazing or wonderful, excellent or brilliant, fantastic or incomparable. The whole book is gossipy, teenage fandom style. All the time-worn stories the other Pythons tell are here, uncontradicted. How they pitched their TV series without a script, treatment, plan or even a name. And were instantly given the go-ahead for 13 episodes. At least they had to battle the establishment: “We didn’t know what we were doing, and insisted on doing it.” The Idles are never idle for long. Everyone is constantly inviting them to vacations in the South Pacific or the Caribbean, lending them houses in the south of France or Mustique or London or New York. David Bowie was kind and generous. So was Mick. And Robin. Most of all, George Harrison. There is not one mention of a fabulous get together at the Idle home. As you can tell from the title, the main achievement of his was the song, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life that he wrote for Monty Pythons’ Life of Brian. It has become a part of life around the world. It is the number one piece played at funerals in the UK, for example. Sports fans sing it loud when their team is losing. What would Spamalot have been without it? It’s the Greensleeves of the 21st century. As Idle explains early on, there is an unending shelf of books, documentaries and products keeping the Monty Python myth alive. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life is certainly one of them. David Wineberg

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rosi

    The description says: Funny, wit, candor. I could not find any of those things. I found George Harrison's name...plenty of times!!! IMHO this was a boring shout out that Eric Idle wrote to have people believe that he was the comic and leading force behind Python, that John Cleese was/is a moody dick and that he (Idle) knows famous people. I already knew #2 and #3. #1, well...... Just don't expect humor. I would not recommend. I could not even finish the book. Read just a little over half.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    Eric Idle was always my favourite Python. His quick wit and way with words delighted me since I first watched any Monty Python. His memoirs are a delight. Self deprecating in a typically English way, but refreshingly honest and upfront. He doesn't hide from his mistakes or blame others, which makes a change from a lot of other celebrity memoirs. The book is also the history of a song. The wonderful "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" first performed in "Life of Brian". It has become the numbe Eric Idle was always my favourite Python. His quick wit and way with words delighted me since I first watched any Monty Python. His memoirs are a delight. Self deprecating in a typically English way, but refreshingly honest and upfront. He doesn't hide from his mistakes or blame others, which makes a change from a lot of other celebrity memoirs. The book is also the history of a song. The wonderful "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" first performed in "Life of Brian". It has become the number one funeral song in the UK, and if you know the song, it's easy to understand why. When I was fighting for my own life in hospital earlier this year, some of the words almost became a mantra to me. I encountered the song before I saw the movie. My first year in high school we had a headmaster who always started the assemblies with a piece of classical music. One day the seventh form decided to sabotage him and swapped out his chosen piece of pompous boredom for "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life". My enduring memory of this occasion is the majority of the other teachers trying not to laugh out loud. Few succeeded. This is a gloriously delicious book. The best memoir I have read this year.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Morrell

    This was a delightful way to spend a month of commutes, I smiled nearly the whole time, and love Mr. Idle even more now. This is his version of life, of which he indeed looks on the bright side. Things I didn't know: Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and Pink Floyd helped fund Holy Grail. His best friend was George Harrison, who refinanced his house so they could make Life Of Brian after a studio pulled out. He is a freaking rock star, his songs just happen to be mostly on the silly side. He knows every s This was a delightful way to spend a month of commutes, I smiled nearly the whole time, and love Mr. Idle even more now. This is his version of life, of which he indeed looks on the bright side. Things I didn't know: Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and Pink Floyd helped fund Holy Grail. His best friend was George Harrison, who refinanced his house so they could make Life Of Brian after a studio pulled out. He is a freaking rock star, his songs just happen to be mostly on the silly side. He knows every single cool kid in the entertainment business, at least those from the 60s - 90s. He seems like a truly good guy, and I thank him for telling me his story.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Penny Ramirez

    This was such a fun listen. 3.5, but I rounded up because Python. There was a lot of name dropping - it seems Idle knew everyone there was to know, and then a few more. Who knew he was BFFs with George Harrison? The stories have inspired me to go back and rewatch all the Monty Python I can get my hands on. Idle has a great attitude for a 75 year old, and did a fantastic job narrating his book. Always look on the bright side, indeed. I do believe I'd like to have that sung at my funeral.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Georgette

    Excellent. I laughed my ass off (I wish)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    I've written more than is probably necessary about music's role in shaping the person I am today. My politics, my belief in the importance of kindness and compassion, my annoying desire to be one or two steps to the side of what's popular – it's all down to discovering R.E.M. and The Smiths and The Cure and Pixies and on and on when I was 15 years old. But what I haven't written about nearly as much – even though it was occurring at the same time – was my discovery of, and head-over-heels love a I've written more than is probably necessary about music's role in shaping the person I am today. My politics, my belief in the importance of kindness and compassion, my annoying desire to be one or two steps to the side of what's popular – it's all down to discovering R.E.M. and The Smiths and The Cure and Pixies and on and on when I was 15 years old. But what I haven't written about nearly as much – even though it was occurring at the same time – was my discovery of, and head-over-heels love affair with, Monty Python. Seeing Monty Python and the Holy Grail was just as seismic as hearing This Year's Model for the first time, and my first experience with Monty Python's Flying Circus cracked my head open in the best of all possible ways. It was the combination of low and high comedy – "The Ministry of Silly Walks'" blatant silliness rubbing elbows with the elaborate conceit and sophisticated structure of "The Funniest Joke in the World" – that really got me. But of course it was also the personalities of the troupe itself that made me want to be both more erudite and more weird. Some of my friends argued about which Beatle they were. I, on the other hand, pondered which Python I was. The answer – pretty definitively, I think – is John. But as I read and enjoyed Eric Idle's "sortabiography" Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, it was worth remembering that I sang his "The Lumberjack Song" at a talent show when I was a senior in high school. Bits of bobs of all the Pythons have been hardwired into my sensibility, and for that reason Idle's book is a sheer delight. The title song serves as a rough frame for the book, tracing its many appearances over the years, from The Life of Brian to Spamalot to the London Olympics' closing ceremonies to various charity benefits and even his daughter's college commencement. Along the way, as you would expect, we get a wealth of anecdotes about Python – from their origins at Oxford and Cambridge to making Flying Circus to shooting three movies to Graham Chapman's early death to their triumphant final shows in 2014. Even if you know most of these stories from other sources, it's worth it to hear them again in Idle's indelible voice and open-hearted humor. But his book is also as much about the people Idle met along the way. There are long passages about his friendship with George Harrison and the role the late, lamented Beatle played in financing The Life of Brian. Late in the book we're treated to a genuinely heartwarming chapter detailing his decades-long friendship with Robin Williams. And, most importantly, the connecting thread in his life after 1977 is his deep and abiding love for his wife Tania. Steve Martin, Edie Izzard, Mike Nichols, Steve Coogan, various Rolling Stones, and many other celebrities all make an appearance, and the overriding impression is that Idle is one of the beloved comedians of the last 50 years. Written in his distinctive voice and shot through with humor and kindness, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life makes it impossible to disagree.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    I love Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It was a pivotal part of my adolescence. It was silly, a little naughty, and totally hilarious. (I delighted in showing it to friends at sleepovers knowing they would never 'get it' on first viewing.) I was vaguely aware of other Monty Python endeavors (that they existed; nothing by name) and I definitely could not have told you the names of any of the members. So, I came at this biography of Eric Idle's pretty naive in the ways of the Pythons, and at leas I love Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It was a pivotal part of my adolescence. It was silly, a little naughty, and totally hilarious. (I delighted in showing it to friends at sleepovers knowing they would never 'get it' on first viewing.) I was vaguely aware of other Monty Python endeavors (that they existed; nothing by name) and I definitely could not have told you the names of any of the members. So, I came at this biography of Eric Idle's pretty naive in the ways of the Pythons, and at least a few times per page I was forced to acknowledge to myself that I really didn't care about the people mentioned or the "how it came to be" of so many Monty Python and other comedy shows, movies, etc. that I was never aware existed in the first place. That being said, it's a credit to Eric Idle's writing that I stuck with this book to the end. He did an amazing job of keeping things punchy and as generally appealing as possible. My favorite part of the book was when he acknowledged (about 3/4 of the way through) that he has many friends who are NOT famous, but he's only talking about the famous ones because he got tired of notes from his editor saying. "Who is this?" He's right that we're all voyeurs, only interested in reading this book in order to get an insider's view of celebrities lives. There were definitely times when the "I was on a private island with so-and-so famous people" got a little tiresome. But dude, if I were in his place, I'm sure I'd be just as name and vacation-droppy as he was, so no hard feelings. I did think it was fun to hear about his genuine friendship with George Harrison. I enjoyed seeing the "at home" life of a post-fame Beatle. I was also extremely gratified that things worked out with his gorgeous model-wife (second wife) and they had a great relationship. I like that kind of thing. Especially after reading Andrew Lloyd Webber's autobiography, which mirrored Idle's in the "sudden rise to fame; women throwing themselves at him" kind of way, but turned out much more happily for Idle. Oh! And I would never have gotten the joke behind the reference in "Sliding Doors" to "What the Monty Python boys say" if not for this book. She's sad and guesses he means "Always look on the bright side" but he counters with, "No! Nobody expects a Spanish Inquisition." Having never seen "Life of Brian" or heard the eponymous song, the reference was lost on me. But now I get it! Anyway, I don't recommend this book to anyone unless you're super into Monty Python, but if you were stuck with nothing else to read for 48 hours, you wouldn't want to gouge your eyes out.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Marco G

    I love this book. But I am biased because I'm a python fan. It's a sweet funny book from a guy who I admired that is actually a really good writer. There was not a lot of fluff in the book, and I tore through it as fast as I could. his python years take up a surprisingly small amount of space in the narrative. But his life was filled with Incredible friendships, like George Harrison, Robin Williams, Steve Martin and many many others. He rub shoulders with really famous people like the Rolling St I love this book. But I am biased because I'm a python fan. It's a sweet funny book from a guy who I admired that is actually a really good writer. There was not a lot of fluff in the book, and I tore through it as fast as I could. his python years take up a surprisingly small amount of space in the narrative. But his life was filled with Incredible friendships, like George Harrison, Robin Williams, Steve Martin and many many others. He rub shoulders with really famous people like the Rolling Stones. Rockers looked on python as rock stars themselves and would seek them out. The book is sad at times but never gets maudlin in that British sort of way where you talk about it don't show too much emotion and move on. Seems like he's at peace with being close to the end of his life, and is pretty happy where things turned out. I am glad I got to see him in person earlier this year in Naperville as he was promoting this book. I did get to see Spamalot when it ran here in Chicago and loved it. Reading this book has caused me to revisit the python Library and I am really enjoying it. Fans of python will enjoy this book not just because of who he is, but because of his wonderful way of telling stories and writing style. The book is very quick to read. I'm glad I got to spend this time getting to know Eric idle. Python will always hold a special place for me and this book is a great addition to the python Library.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    I enjoyed this book for the most part. When I read Rob Lowe's autobiography, I read some reviews and some people did not like the name-dropping they said he did. But how can you be a celebrity and live in the celebrity world, and NOT drop names? So for Rob Lowe, that was fine. For the most part, the names he "dropped" were his colleagues. For Eric Idle . . . wellllll, I did feel he was kind of name-dropping. Sometimes, it was quite understandable (had no idea he and George Harrison were good fri I enjoyed this book for the most part. When I read Rob Lowe's autobiography, I read some reviews and some people did not like the name-dropping they said he did. But how can you be a celebrity and live in the celebrity world, and NOT drop names? So for Rob Lowe, that was fine. For the most part, the names he "dropped" were his colleagues. For Eric Idle . . . wellllll, I did feel he was kind of name-dropping. Sometimes, it was quite understandable (had no idea he and George Harrison were good friends), but other times, he read the list of celebrities at a given function to no apparent purpose except to read a list of celebrities. He also went a little overboard mentioning the exotic places he traveled and worked. Sometimes, he did convey his own sense of wonder of being from such humble beginnings and yet here he was hobnobbing and jet-setting, so for the most part, I forgave him that. On the plus side, it was laugh-out-loud funny in places and his humor came across loud and clear. I also enjoyed learning a few interesting things about the aforementioned celebrities I did not know. So all in all, a pleasant "listen." 3.5 stars

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography by Eric Idle 2019 marks the fiftieth anniversary of The Pythons, and Eric is marking the occasion with this hilarious memoir chock full of behind-the-scenes stories from a high-flying life featuring everyone from Princess Leia to Queen Elizabeth and Elvis. While reading this I laughed so much, my sides hurt, ‘ Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,’ the comedy icon reflects on his fame Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography by Eric Idle 2019 marks the fiftieth anniversary of The Pythons, and Eric is marking the occasion with this hilarious memoir chock full of behind-the-scenes stories from a high-flying life featuring everyone from Princess Leia to Queen Elizabeth and Elvis. While reading this I laughed so much, my sides hurt, ‘ Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,’ the comedy icon reflects on his famed troupe’s staying power, his friendship with George Harrison and his secret for making money, Filled with funny anecdotes and stories. Such as how Monty Python got their name, to stories of how “Life of Brian” and “The Meaning of Life” came to be are just as enthralling, the former more so due to the decision by former Beatle George Harrison to bankroll the film. the kind of book you’ll want to read twice, as its just so funny.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alona

    What a great read! It’s sort of a cross between watching a Monty Python movie and an OK magazine full of celebrity gossip. Eric Idle is SO FUNNY, his sense of humor is my favorite: Not-trying/natural, unapologetic and clever! It does feel at times that he puts himself on the very top of every important event/decision that Monty Python ever took or with all his celebrity friends, but, maybe he was?! It was brilliant and funny and sad.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mike Donahue

    For a Python fan there are a lot of interesting tidbits. Eg. the number one requested song for funerals in the UK is Always look on the Bright Side of Life. The rest is shameless name dropping and I partied with all of these people. Absolutely devoid of any introspection. Read for entertainment only

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    I really enjoyed this sortabiography, full of as much wit and panache as one would expect from a man who is among the living legends of comedy. He avoids oversentimentality in his look back at his career while still handling certain topics with appropriate gravity. Amusing and touching all at the same time and lest you think it too serious, it's an autobiography as only a Python could write, so there's plenty of silliness and button pushing. I read this book through Penguin's First to Read progr I really enjoyed this sortabiography, full of as much wit and panache as one would expect from a man who is among the living legends of comedy. He avoids oversentimentality in his look back at his career while still handling certain topics with appropriate gravity. Amusing and touching all at the same time and lest you think it too serious, it's an autobiography as only a Python could write, so there's plenty of silliness and button pushing. I read this book through Penguin's First to Read program

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Stoolfire

    Interested in Monty Python and/ or Eric Idle's career and personal life you may want to give this memoir a try.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chaitra

    I missed the fact that John Cleese had his own autobiography. This isn’t surprising because I don’t read much non fiction. But these days I’m on an ereader kick, considering there’s no late fee, and when this book popped up on my library’s overdrive I had to get it. I usually shy away from reading about people I’m familiar with, but, after all, he’s a Python, even if he’s not John Cleese. When my son was little and he had this horse-y shuffling run, hubby and I used to run behind him making clip I missed the fact that John Cleese had his own autobiography. This isn’t surprising because I don’t read much non fiction. But these days I’m on an ereader kick, considering there’s no late fee, and when this book popped up on my library’s overdrive I had to get it. I usually shy away from reading about people I’m familiar with, but, after all, he’s a Python, even if he’s not John Cleese. When my son was little and he had this horse-y shuffling run, hubby and I used to run behind him making clip clop noises, a la Brave Sir Robin. No brainer. But, sadly, for a python memoir, this is quite tame. I expected roasts, and got love letters. Take note memoirists, this is boring! Idle still has it, from the various ephemera he produces of toasts made and new songs written, but it doesn’t translate into an entertaining book. The endless parties do get old, even when you don’t mind the name dropping (I didn’t). I did enjoy some of it; there were amusing anecdotes, and I liked whatever there was of the pythons. But I wanted more. For example, why draw a veil on the nine months of torture during Munchausen? (I’ve heard some of it and it’s supposedly as bad as the African Queen). I really need to rewatch Monty Python. And yes, I should probably read So Anyway.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Phillip Saginario

    Never meet your Idle

  29. 5 out of 5

    Art

    Cheery but cheeky. "Life has a very simple plot: First you’re here, then you’re not." — Eric Idle, epigraph for his “memories of a failed pessimist.” Forty years ago, Eric Idle hung on a movie prop of a cross introducing all of us to “Always Look on The Bright Side of Life,” which closed “Life with Brian,” a Monty Python film. The song and its sentiment permeate this fun memoir. Eric Idle's great-grandfather worked as a famous ringmaster and circus master in the eighteen-eighties. At age five, his Cheery but cheeky. "Life has a very simple plot: First you’re here, then you’re not." — Eric Idle, epigraph for his “memories of a failed pessimist.” Forty years ago, Eric Idle hung on a movie prop of a cross introducing all of us to “Always Look on The Bright Side of Life,” which closed “Life with Brian,” a Monty Python film. The song and its sentiment permeate this fun memoir. Eric Idle's great-grandfather worked as a famous ringmaster and circus master in the eighteen-eighties. At age five, his grandmother took him to a triple-feature, including a Marx Brothers movie. His father died and his mother could not care for him so the family sent little Eric to an orphanage for twelve years, which he found grim, harsh and abusive. But to avoid the bullying, he developed a sense of humor as a good defense by turning anger into laughter. At age twelve Eric’s grandmother gave him a typewriter. Always interested in words, he created his own entertainment in the privacy of his brain, writing sketches and doing funny voices. At Cambridge, comedy changed him forever when the Footlights Club taught him the art of writing and performing. There he met a couple of others who would join a few from Oxford to become Monty Python. From these beginnings in college over the next fifteen years, the troupe made forty-five television programs and five movies along with books and records. Monty Python’s Flying Circus debuted on BBC1 late on a Sunday night in October, when few people at the time watched television at that hour. It aired as a low-risk program for the BBC that developed a cult following then a renewal for another thirteen shows. Next year marks the fiftieth anniversary. So, this book publishes on the eve of that commemoration. But where did Monty Python originate? What was its fountainhead? In the mid-sixties, half a dozen similar British shows emerged. Monty Python set itself apart by writing and performing their work. By avoiding the topical, the sketches became evergreens. And they played character types, not known individuals. Also, it began as an early digital show in color, which extended its life beyond that of its contemporaries. Fame took awhile. Four years after their debut, Monty Python arrived in Toronto, where signs and banners greeted them, the first signs of fandom. Of course Canada is part of The British Empire, so it became aware of the BBC show before the United States. Eight years after its debut, PBS stations in America started to buy the cheap program for its late nights. And that’s when I joined the circus. As with others, the quirky program grew on me over the forty-five shows. Eric Idle married then divorced during this period. He naturally became friends with other show biz people of his generation, including George Harrison. As his divorce approached at Christmas of seventy-five, two delivery guys brought a big thing in wrapping paper: a fully stocked jukebox with the favorites of George Harrison. “Every home should have one. Happy Christmas. Love, George and Olivia.” (Reminds me of the time that Steve Goodman, the singer-songwriter, bought a stocked jukebox for John Prine, who did not take a writing credit for “You Never Even Called Me by My Name,” worth as much as the royalties that Prine could have earned.) In the new year, the group could not figure out an ending for “The Life of Brian." Eric suggested a song, which became “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” The song began to take on a life of its own after the opening of “Life of Brian.” The film, a religious parody, drew many protests, which, of course, drove up the ticket sales, attracting even more attention to the song. The movie soundtrack recording of the song sounds dry. A couple years later, a BBC radio disc jockey began playing the song every morning on his breakfast show, which led to a rerelease. Sprighly versions would come later. Listen to the “Spamalot” original cast recording. After “Brian,” Idle took a long sabbatical to learn about our universe, self-educating himself in cosmology. Later, he enjoyed working with Penn and Teller in Vegas because he enjoyed talking with them after the show about the universe. Idle became friends with Leslie Nielsen who, in an elevator, displayed the most brilliant controlled deadpan. The funny story is in the book. And so is the one about the longest laugh they earned, four minutes worth, at the Aspen Comedy Festival. Monty Python’s Flying Circus debuted six years before Saturday Night Live, serving as an antecedent for a new kind of silly, absurd, surreal sketch comedy, often with cold openings or endings. Idle hosted SNL four times in the seventies. He marveled that they could write anything while high. The Pythons wrote during office hours. SNL wrote all night on Tuesdays, the office reeking with the scent of pot, Idle remembers. In September of eighty, Monty Python ran four sold-out nights at The Hollywood Bowl, eight thousand fans at a time. Idle remembers it as the most fun they had together. After the show, Eric proposed to Tania, now his beloved wife of almost forty years now. She grew up west of Chicago. (Monty Python at The Hollywood Bowl stands as the best live video performance of the group in its heyday.) Eighteen years ago, Idle went on a full-blown, two-month, twenty-city tour of the United States, including Milwaukee at The Riverside Theater, a fine old vaudeville house that packed a couple thousand Python fans that memorable night. “I love making people laugh,” he writes. A year after his good friend George Harrison died, Idle hosted the Concert for George at the Royal Albert Hall. At the end, everyone stood quietly while Joe Brown sang “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” playing it on a ukulele, one of George’s favorite instruments. Rose petals fell from the ceiling. And at that moment, everyone fell apart, Idle recalls. Fifteen years ago, he went on tour taking only two other performers this time on a rock-and-roll tour bus. His funny diary documents that tour. A Comic Tour Across America Then, “'Spamalot’ changed my life,” he writes. Idle wrote a stage play adaptation of Monty Python’s film “Holy Grail," condensing a hundred characters in the movie to eight for the stage. Even before rehearsals began, he got the news that the previews in Chicago sold out. The Chicago reviews and word of mouth generated a huge box office advance on Broadway. The opening, on St Paddy’s Day, went well. Idle, the author, took a big ovation. He invited the other Pythons on stage where he felt the love for all of them together again. Finally, of course, everyone in the house joined in to sing “Always Look on The Bright Side of Life” until the curtain came down. The box office “went nuts” after the sensational reviews. By the next night, the box office took in two million dollars, a record on Broadway. On Tony night, Mike Nichols won for best director. “Spamalot” won Best Musical. Later, Idle and his music director won the Grammy for Best Musical Show Album. At the end of Tony night, Tania returned her loaner jewels. Idle went back the next day to buy the diamond-and-amethyst encrusted ring for Tania. Sweet. Idle closed the London Olympic games six years ago in front of ninety-thousand people. As he sang “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” seven gorgeous girls in stunning white, feathered angel costumes emerged through the stage. Jeffrey J Mitchell captured my favorite photo of this for Getty Images. https://media.gettyimages.com/photos/... Thanks to “Spamalot,” Idle experienced big money for the first time in his career. The producer gave him a check for five hundred thousand dollars. To pay off a debt, the Pythons threw their final reunion at O2 in London. Idle wrote the script and directed the show. Tickets for the first show sold out in thirty-four seconds. Then, after releasing tickets for the next four shows, those sold out in thirty minutes. Ultimately, eighteen thousand people packed each of these ten sold-out shows. Of course, the show closed with everybody singing “Always Look on The Bright Side of Life,” as the Pythons waved their final goodbyes. See Monty Python Live (Mostly) For a filmed piece in the show, Idle spent a June day with Stephen Hawking and Brian Cox. He wrote the scene to follow his singing of “The Galaxy Song,” my second favorite song of Idle’s. Stephen Hawking came to the final night of the show. After the song and the film, a spotlight shined on Hawking, and the place exploded, cheering him to the rafters. The nurse raised his hand to wave and acknowledge the applause. It was a surprisingly touching moment during an evening of comedy. Hawking was a lifelong fan of Monty Python. Idle found himself at home on election night two years ago, with “the unexpected and unwelcome” election of Trump. His traveling show with John Cleese became therapy as laughter became more important. They played across America to an audience coming out for a cheer-up, set free by laughter. “And really, laughter is the only sane response to pathological lying,” Idle writes. So, even in a book that documents a comic life in comedy, we cannot escape The Trump Show. We live from dust to dust, Idle writes wrapping up his life. We dissipate into carbon atoms, reanimating by turning into other things. Eric Idle wants his atoms reassembled into a Tesla so that his wife could still drive him. At the end, at his own funeral, Eric Idle will sing “Always Look on The Bright Side of Life." He will get the last laugh. The Associated Press. https://apnews.com/6499c4b107484e498a... The New York Times. Q & A. For Eric Idle, Life’s a Laugh and Death’s a Joke, It’s True. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/26/bo... The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    A confession -- I'm not a big Monty Python fan, although I enjoyed the skits back in the 70s, and I have never seen Life of Brian or the other movies. I keep meaning to, but evidently they are not a priority. So I expected to breeze through Eric Idle's memoir, picking the funny bits and moving on. Instead I read the whole thing cover to cover in one sitting, (granted, I was on an 11 hour flight at the time) and enjoyed it very much. There were stories of how Idle gravitated to show business and A confession -- I'm not a big Monty Python fan, although I enjoyed the skits back in the 70s, and I have never seen Life of Brian or the other movies. I keep meaning to, but evidently they are not a priority. So I expected to breeze through Eric Idle's memoir, picking the funny bits and moving on. Instead I read the whole thing cover to cover in one sitting, (granted, I was on an 11 hour flight at the time) and enjoyed it very much. There were stories of how Idle gravitated to show business and comedy, behind the scenes difficulties in trying to get six quirky individuals to work as a team, lots of name dropping, and general silliness. Recommended! (Thanks to Penguin First to Read for a digital review copy.)

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