Deuce of Clubs Book Club: Books of the Weak

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I'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski

Guy Debord: Revolutionary

No Place to Hide

Command of Office

The Christ-Myth Theory And Its Problems

The Christian Delusion

Lincoln's Wrath

How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself

The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex

Bossypants

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

Catching the Big Fish

Dig Infinity

The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones

Crazy for God

Basin and Range

Anarchy Evolution

The File

John Ringo

The Supremes

End the Fed

Burning Book

The Hohokam Millenium

God's Middle Finger

Narcocorrido

In Heaven Everything Is Fine

The Shunning

Wisdom Sits in Places

The Marvelous Country

Hamilton's Curse

The Secret Life of Houdini

The Trouble with Being Born

Schulz and Peanuts

First Into Nagasaki

Joe Miller's Jests

Human Smoke

Dirty Tricks Cops Use

A Futile and Stupid Gesture

All For A Few Perfect Waves

Systemantics

Death in the Desert

American Signs

Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Constitutional Convention

Secrets Of A Stingy Scoundrel

The Self-Made Tapestry

A Constitutional History of Secession

The Neurotic's Notebook

Interrogation Machine

Monster Midway

The Harlot by the Side of the Road

Forced Into Glory

Imperial Life in the Emerald City

J. G. Ballard: Quotes

The Compleat Practical Joker

Laugh with Hugh Troy

Pranks!

A Liar's Autobiography

Cobb

Chasing Rainbows

Letters from Tucson, 1925-1927

The Five Fosters

The Giant Cactus Forest and Its World

How to Cheat Your Friends at Poker

World Famous Cults & Fanatics

That's Not All, Folks!

God's Problem

Will Christ Return By 1988?

Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology

The Whiskey Rebellion

FDR's Folly

Wilson's War

Bully Boy

[If] I Did It

The Dark Side

Secret Origins of the Bible

Godless

The End of Faith

Why I Became An Atheist

"Life's Calendar for 1922"

Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War

The Negro Cowboys

EXPECT RESISTANCE

Monty Python Speaks

Baseball Between the Numbers

The Psychopath's Bible

Satisfaction

J. G. Ballard: Conversations

Days of War, Nights of Love

Gospel Fictions and Who Wrote the Gospels?

The Real Deadwood

Deadwood

The Revolution: A Manifesto

45

The Secret Man

Stormin' Mormon

From Psyche to Soma

I'll Gather My Geese

The Osama bin Laden I Know

Alias "Paine"

A Man Without Words

The Wild Trees

The World Without Us

Arizona's Changing Rivers

The Phoenix Indian School

Realm of the Long Eyes

John Dillinger: The Life and Death of America's First Celebrity Criminal

Buckey O'Neill: The Story of a Rough Rider

Thanks For Tuning In

Adventures in the Apache Country

Waylon: An Autobiography

My Life: Sunrise to Sunset

Mimes and Miners: A Historical Study of the Theater in Tombstone

The First 100 Years: A History of Arizona Blacks

Enter Without Knocking

City in the Sun: The Japanese Concentration Camp at Poston, Arizona

House by the Buckeye Road

Vanished Arizona

The Big Con

The Astronomy Cafe and Back to the Astronomy Cafe

A Handbook on Hanging

The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right

A Mind Restored

Mr. Show: What Happened?!

Reclaiming the American Revolution

Stumbling On Happiness

Treasure Maps of the Superstitions

Sunny Slope

Did Genesis Man Conquer Space?

Look Homeward, America

Radicals for Capitalism

Kayaker's Little Book of Wisdom

God Is Not Great

The Echoing Green

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll

K Foundation Burn a Million Quid

The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes and The Tao of Willie

Just Six Numbers and Our Cosmic Habitat

Wild Goose Chronicles

Behind Bars: Surviving Prison

Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce

The Gang They Couldn't Catch

Manhunt

A History of the End of the World

Al Sieber: Chief of Scouts

Apaches & Longhorns

Deep Survival

Captured

DINO

Sock

Bo: Pitching & Wooing

You Are Worthless

You And Your Hand

Access All Areas

Field Guide to the Apocalypse

The War on Terrorism

Those Idiots From Earth

September 11: An Oral History

Mortal Questions

The Heresy of Self-Love

The White Flag Principle

Medieval Panorama

An Honest President

Those Words

À rebours

Peterson's Incident Report Book

Boo! Culture, Experience, and the Startle Reflex

Victory Denied

Nothing, Arizona

A Porcine History of Philosophy and Religion

O Holy Cow!: The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto

DOME COMPENDIUM OF TOPICAL TREATMENT IN PROCTOLOGY

¿Hablas conmigo

Thirty-three Candles

Black Monk Time

Men of Distinction

Alexander the Corrector

Space Viking

Mark These Men

Hallucinogenic Plants

Prohibition: An Adventure in Freedom

JESUS! He's Our President

LOVE

How to Watch Football on Television

Merrill Markoe's Guide to Love

Lincoln: The Man and The Car

Whatever Men Know About Women

Biographies of Italian War Heroes

ABC of Espionage

Art Colony Perverts

Devil-ution

Starting Right with Bees

Planet Earth is a Cult

Baseball Letters

Fetish

Dopey Doings

Democracy: The God That Failed

Handgrenade Talk

Hi, How Are You?

het zingen van het ijs

The Museum of Jurassic Technology Jubilee Catalogue

The Rector and the Rogue

Colorful Cacti of the American Deserts

Odd Jobs: The World of Deviant Work

The Hungry Man's Outdoor Grill Cookbook

How to Get Invited to the White House

How to Work for a Jerk

Never Work for a Jerk!

The Mentality of Apes

Your Vigor for Life Appalls Me

Dr. Strange: Sorceror Supreme

Nautical Notions for Nibbling

A Short Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity

The Fake Revolt

Coup D'Etat

History of the Town of Felicity

Hood of Death

Dolls' House Bathrooms: Lots of Little Loos

Border Security / Anti-Infiltration Operations

Living on Light

God is for Real, Man

Did the Apostle Paul Visit Britain?

Twin Peaks

2001

Power Phrases

The Truth About Wagner

The Life of the Bee

Tombstone

Science Looks at Smoking

The Chiricahuas

The New Dark Ages Conspiracy

The Big Question

Everybody's Book of Epitaphs

The Death of the Fuhrer

Mindfuckers

Gorbachev! Has the Real Antichrist Come?

The World's Worst Poet

Alyssa Milano: She's the Boss

Home is the Desert

Nine Lives: From Stripper to Schoolteacher

How to Start Your Own Country

How to Found Your Own Religion

Sex Objects in the Sky

Indian Oratory

Bastard Without Portfolio

The Bedside Book of Bastards

Hopeless -- Yet There Is Hope

Bible in Pocket, Gun in Hand

Margie Asks WHY

Death of a Hippie

Wake Up or Blow Up

Feeling and Form

Guilt

A Mile in His Moccasins

Mojave Desert Ramblings

Passing of the Outhouse

This Way to Happiness

The Happy Life

Young Only Once

The Monkey Gland Affair

Bert Bacharach's Book for Men

The Two Babylons

For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes...

Why Christians Crack Up!

Why Do Christians Break Down?

Hava Nagila!

Beethoven or Bust

How to Abandon Ship

Livin' in Joe's World

The Last Democrat

Salvation Mountain

The Varmint and Crow Hunter's Bible

Love in the Western World

Jack the Ripper: Light-Hearted Friend

Little Men of the NFL

No One May Ever Have The Same Knowledge Again

The Secret Museum of Mankind

James Bond's World of Values

We Did Not Plummet Into Space

The Boy Who Didn't Believe IN CHRISTMAS

The Great Escape From Your Dead-End Job

All About Tipping

My Loser Godfrey

A Haircut in Horse Town

Mucusless Diet Healing System

Jefferson Returns

Lincoln Returns

Churchill Returns

Corporation Freak

Null Bock auf DDR

So You're Going on a Mission?

Nudes in My Camera

Why I Hate the Nazis

Flesh, Metal & Glass

The James Beard Cookbook

Mortal Refrains

Deadbolt

Amy Grant: A Biography

The X Cars

We Were Five

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder

Hello ... Wrong Number

I'll Kill You Next!

Murder in Vegas

Did MAN Just Happen?

Terror at the Atlanta Olympics

Criswell Predicts

Your Next Ten Years

They Pay Me to Catch Footballs

The Phantom Menace

Just For Fellows

The Lopsided Gal

Astrology and Horse Racing

The Cokesbury Stunt Book

The Origin of Things

Remarks on the History of Things

U.S. Government Sewing Book

Funeral Tributes II

Blinky, the Friendly Hen

The Serbs Choose War

My Mystery Castle

Iggy

Funeral Customs the World Over

The Right to be Let Alone

Mormonism and the Negro

The Church and the Negro

Preacher with a Billy Club

Fighting Parson of the Old West

Invisibility: Mastering the Art of Vanishing

How to Disappear Completely

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies

How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man

Langenscheidts Konversationsbuch

Marlene Dietrich's ABC

The Bible in the Hands of Its Creators


Monty Python Speaks!

David Morgan (1999)

 

JONES: Originally when we'd been writing for The Frost Report and for Marty Feldman, Mike and I would go and read them through, they'd all laugh, the sketch would get in, and then you see the sketch on the air and they fucking changed it all! We'd get furious. There was one sketch Marty did about a gnome going into a mortgage office to try to raise a mortgage. And he comes in and sits down and talks very sensibly about collateral and everything, and eventually the mortgage guy says, "Well, what's the property?" And he says, "Oh, it's the magic oak tree in Dingly Dell." And the thing went back and forth like that. Everybody laughed when we did it, and when we saw it finally come out on TV, Marty comes in, sits cross-legged on the desk, and starts telling a string of one-line gnome jokes. This wasn't what the joke was at all.
What happens is that people (especially someone like Marty) would start rehearsing it, and of course after you've been rehearsing it a few times people don't laugh anymore. And so Marty being the kind of character he was, he'd throw in a few jokes, and everybody would laugh again. And so that's how things would accumulate. It was things like that that made us want to perform our own stuff. We sort of felt if it worked, you wanted to leave it as it was. (8-9)

CLEESE: And we got to know Peter Sellers. Graham and I wrote two or three screenplays for Sellers, the only one of which that got made was The Magic Christian. We came in on about draft nine of that, did I think a good draft on which they raised the money, and then Terry Southern came back and rewrote it again, and—we thought—made it worse. (17)

BARRY TOOK [Producer]: I had seen Barry Humphries, the Australian, in a one-man show and thought he would make good material for television, and I had this idea of putting this Cleese/Chapman/Palin/Jones together. So I arrive at the BBC and they said, "'Well, Barry Humphries was a female impersonator." I said, "He's not, he's a very broad, interesting comedian, he does all kinds of things, and Edna Everage was just one of his jokes" - it came to overwhelm him in the end, but I mean in those days he had several characters. And they said, "Oh, this Palin and Jones, all that is much too expensive," I said, "You must do it, you've got to. Why the hell have you employed me? You said come in, bring us new ideas, I bring you new ideas, you say: We can't do it. Too expensive."
I thought, you can't fiddle about with these guys, you've got to go for the throat, you've got to say ''You've got to do this!" So my boss at the time, an eccentric man by the name of Michael Mills, said, "You're like bloody Barry Von Richthofen and his Flying Circus. You're so bloody arrogant—Took asks you a question, halfway through you realize he's giving you an order."
So it was known internally as Baron Von Took's Flying Circus. It was then reduced to The Flying Circus and subsequently The Circus. All the internal memos said "The Circus": i.e., "Would you please engage the following people at these prices dah dah dah." I have a copy of the memo somewhere which predates anybody else's claim to have invented the name, it's something I'm fairly jealous about—I mean, I don't give a damn, but I did invent it.
When they wrote their first script, it was called Owl Stretching Time or Whither Canada? and Michael Mills said, "I don't give a damn what it's called, it's called The Circus in all the memos—make them call it 'something Flying Circus.'" (25)

IDLE: It wasn't like U.S. TV at all! We didn't have to do anything as stupid as selling a concept. There was no executive structure. They just gave us thirteen shows and said, "Get on with it." Executives only spoil things and hold back originality—that is their job. (26)

JONES: So I was thinking quite hard about the shape of the show, and I saw [Spike] Milligan's Q5, and I thought, "Fuck! Milligan's done it!" He did a show [where] one sketch would start and drift off into another sketch, things would drift into one another, he made it so clear that we'd been writing in cliches all this time, where we either did three minute sketches with a beginning, middle, and end, or else we did thirty-second blackouts—one joke with a blackout—so it was still very much the shape of a traditional English revue. Milligan was messing around with this and doing something totally different. (30)

IDLE: We were young, and doing a show we would be in charge of for the first time. There were no executives. This freedom allowed us to experiment without having to say what we were trying to do—indeed, we didn't have a clue what we were trying to do except please ourselves. This was the leitmotiv: If it made us laugh, it was in; if it didn't, we sold it to other shows. (37)

[Interviewer:] Was there EVER any consideration given during the writing process to how an audience would respond to the material?
IDLE: None whatsoever. (49)

CLEESE: And the funny thing is I don't remember being cross about it; I think I just accepted that writing with Graham I was going to have to do eighty percent of the work and sometimes more. And it always slightly annoyed me when people used to come up to me on Fawlty Towers and say, "Well, how much did Connie Booth actually write?" And I wanted to say to them, "Certainly a lot more than Graham ever wrote." That used to annoy me, the assumption that because, Graham was a man he was obviously making a bigger contribution than Connie as a woman. (83-4)

[David] SHERLOCK [Graham Chapman's companion]: My mother was terrified of him. She said, "He just sits there smoking his pipe not saying much and I know he's taking it all in, every word! I know it's all going to come out on the television." So that's your average sort of middle-class attitude to what Graham was like. (86)

GILLIAM: He was probably the only one who was really living at the edge in some strange way. We just played at it, we just wrote it; he lived the stuff. (91)

IDLE: Gilliam is one of the most manipulative bastards in that group of utterly manipulative bastards. Michael is a selfish bastard, Cleese a control freak, Jonesy is shagged out and now forgets everything, and Graham as you know is still dead. I am the only real nice one! (107)

IDLE: When we got to the States, we were amazed to find they assumed we wrote it out of our minds on drugs—as if anyone could successfully write stoned. (See Saturday Night Live and Hunter S. Thompson.) When you're stoned it's hard to find the keys to the typewriter. Actually we always worked office hours: Nine to five with a break for lunch. Even in the West Indies!! (112)

CLEESE: I do remember an extraordinary experience: the first time we showed And Now for Something Different [sic], there was hilarious laughter up to fifty minutes, then the audience went quiet for twenty, twenty-five minutes, and then they came up again and finished very well. So we took all that middle material, put it at the beginning, and it all worked beautifully up to about fifty minutes, and then [the] audience got quiet! We discovered that whatever order we put the material in, at about fifty minutes they stopped laughing. And in order to get people to go with you past the fifty-minute mark they have to want to know what's going to happen next. In other words, you have to have characters that they care about and a story they can enjoy and believe in. There's a huge learning curve.
JONES: There was actually an instance where I can remember learning something—and that was when we had the "Dirty Fork" sketch, the waiter comes in and commits suicide and everything. We'd done it on TV and it had been really funny, and we redid it—same sketch, same actors—and we showed it at some Odeon somewhere, and nobody laughed. I thought it was really weird, we'd seen people laugh before and it doesn't get a titter, and the only thing I could see was that Ian had put a muzak track over it, sort of posh restaurant muzak, and I thought maybe that's just filling in all the gaps and just obliterating the film. We took the muzak off and then, when we showed it, people laughed at the sketch again. (120-1)

PALIN: We were interested in the narrative for the films, because we took a conscious decision that films can't just be sketches—there's got to be some story, otherwise people would get bored stiff of just sketches. Certainly after fifty minutes you start to lose them; you've got to have characters that go through. That's a very conscious decision, which is why the Knights of the Round Table was something we thought to be an excellent vehicle. (132-3)

[Interviewer:] Was there interest on the part of Time-Life to sell it here?
[Nancy] LEWIS [Monty Python personal manager]: No, none whatsoever. They said, "Oh, its humor is too English, it's never going to work in America." I had the most discouraging meetings with them—would just come out pulling your hair out. And in those days it did cost a lot to convert from PAL to NTSC standard. It was an expensive procedure and they were not willing—at all—to put money in. (183)

GILLIAM: I had this theory about starting a new series and doing the dullest, most awful shows ever written—boring, not funny, just bad. And the first one goes out, "What's happened to Python?" And you need to run about two or three before people would all stop watching them. You run show after show, and, "Oh, fuck, it's awful!" So by the time there's only maybe ten people left in England who are watching, you then do the best show you've ever done. And they run and tell their friends, and everybody won't believe it! I thought that's what we should be doing: you just lower the expectations so low then you suddenly build them up again. It would require a bit of self-sacrifice! But nobody else went along with that. (199-200)

GOLDSTONE [Executive producer]: The Life of Brian budget—which we maintained—worked because we found this set in Tunisia built for Jesus of Nazareth that was still standing, which we then added on to and elaborated on, and in fact used some of their costumes from a Rome costume house. We were really able to give it a look and a scale without having to spend the kind of money it might have cost. But in those situations, they all rose to the occasion. (233)

PALIN: So one had a character who is exercising power, that's what Pilate is doing. . . .
I suppose it's the sort of paper-thin division between being powerful or being ridiculous. Ceausescu, for instance, was this amazingly powerful man in palaces; overnight, he's suddenly just a frightened man who ends up lying on a yard with a bullet through him. (236)

[Julian] DOYLE [film production]: So I had Eric come to me, and he said, "Don't cut the two-shot, it's brilliant, the close ups don't work." And the same with Graham, he came to me: "Don't cut the two-shot! The two-shot works brilliantly."
This is a thing: comedians will tell you two-shots work, because you get the timing right. Somebody can cut in closeups and ruin somebody's performance by changing their pauses, and that's why I think comedians are [keen] about the two-shot—at least nobody'll ruin it.
I'd done a rough cut of Brian. When we ran the film back in London, they said, "Oh, it's working great except the haggling doesn't work." And Eric was, of course, "Well, we'll have to cut out the haggling." And I said, "Let me have a go at it."
What it was, the haggling was too slow in the two-shot. It works fine when you play it on its own, [but] when you put it in the film, where Brian's being chased by Romans, the performances are too slow. I can speed them up if I go to the closeups and put shots of the Romans getting closer; there's more panic on him. I cut the two-shot with closeups and stuck it in the film. Cleese came around and I ran it: "Well, that seems to work." (246-7)

CLEESE: One of the themes in the film is, "Do make up your own mind about things and don't do what people tell you." And I find it slightly funny that there are now religious organizations saying, "Do not go and see this film that tells you not to do what you are told." (249)

IDLE: The film has appealed to many seriously religious people, including the Dalai Lama and some Jesuits. It [also] plays better in Catholic countries—go figure! But it was wonderful—anger is the hallmark of the closed mind, and we certainly flushed out some raving bigots, and that was part of the joy of it. (249)

IDLE: Like everyone else, I prefer my solo work, because it is mine. You cannot take credit for Python because it is group effort. I like my play, my books, my songs, the Rutles, so much stuff. Python was just a part of my life; it isn't my fault people won't let it go! I have learned you cannot run away from it, you cannot hide from it, and to be polite at all times, but it ain't me, mate. Perhaps having a Beatle for a pal helped me somewhat come to terms with it all. (313)

CLEESE: Sometimes I switch on the BBC and find old Python shows on by accident. I watch them and some of the material, two or three things in every show, seem to be so utterly hopeless that I have no idea—and it's not just that they're not funny, but I don't know how we could have ever thought they might have been. All I know is that we were playing games with convention which no one had ever done before, and it was very startling the first time you do it. But once people get used to a convention being broken it's not startling at all, and then there's nothing left. (314)


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