“New York hates Monty Python—I mean, look at the weather!” said film director and famed animator Terry Gilliam, shivering cheerfully on the red carpet at the premiere of the documentary Monty Python: Almost the Truth (the Lawyer’s Cut) at the Ziegfeld on Thursday, Oct. 15, as a cold rain beat down.
His latest creation, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, opens Christmas Day—the last film to feature the late Heath Ledger. “A damn fine film,” Mr. Gilliam said.
Almost the Truth, meanwhile, celebrates Python’s 40th anniversary and, curiously, a BAFTA award for Outstanding Contribution to Film and Television—although Michael Palin told the Transom that this was “too conventional; we should have a 39-and-a-half, or a 43rd or something,” and would have preferred a more balmy proxy location, like Fiji or Rio.
Terry Jones, however, said he loves flying into New York, especially to land at the “Old Castle Pub, at the moment: They have Goose Island beer there.”
Also featured in the film is Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson, who said that early on, “every time we finished a Maiden show, we always played ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.’” What does Python-esque mean to him? “An eccentric warm scaly feeling.” he told the Transom, who must’ve looked confused. “Clearly, you’ve never handled a python before.”
Next up was John Cleese, the tallest and possibly the loudest Python. “They always tease me about the fact that I date young girls,” he said. To our chagrin, his least favorite sketch was the Silly Walk—the first time he performed it in Southampton, “nobody laughed and it was profoundly embarrassing and I got off the stage and said, ‘I’m never going to have to do that fucking sketch again.” But despite his aching tendons, the next night it was a smash and so he was “stuck with it for years.”
After the screening, the five surviving Pythons—graying, wrinkled and energetically buffoonish—responded to written questions from the audience.
“Why isn’t John funny anymore? Signed, Michael,” read Mr. Jones from a note card.
“I was just testing my pen!” insisted Mr. Palin.
One audience question quoted a passage from the late Graham Chapman’s autobiography, which claimed that Mr. Cleese had a “certain fondness” for Michael Palin.
“Graham thought that every man had a certain fondness for every other men,” Mr. Cleese responded. “It made him feel more comfortable.”