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Monty Python Speaks: The Complete Oral History of Monty Python, as Told by the Founding Members and a Few of Their Many Friends and Collaborators
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Monty Python Speaks: The Complete Oral History of Monty Python, as Told by the Founding Members and a Few of Their Many Friends and Collaborators

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  986 ratings  ·  87 reviews

Monty Python, the genius comedy troupe from Britain, single-handedly revolutionized sketch comedy and paved the way for everything from Saturday Night Live to Austin Powers. Now, in their official oral history, founding members John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin take readers behind the scenes in this no-holds-barred look at their lives an

Kindle Edition, 356 pages
Published April 28th 2013 by Dey Street Books (first published 1999)
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James Swenson
At first it was fun to look behind the scenes of the Python collaboration. Then, gradually, I started to feel depressed at the history of disagreements and conflicts among the cast, some of which seem to have ended in lasting bad feelings. Having finished, I feel as if I'd gotten too close a look at the making of sausage. ...more
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Took me a while to get through this. It's funny to have your suspicions about each Python confirmed: Cleese is the polished asshole, Chapman was the troubled genius, Gilliam's the loose cannon, Idle is a lone wolf, Jones is a goofball with a giant heart, and Palin is Miss Congeniality. I love them all. ...more
What binds Python together is a similar sense of humour, a general consensus about what is funny. If you'd written something that appealed to the group sense of humour, that would go right through the group. That's why we worked well as a group, certainly you didn't have to explain what was funny; there really was a unanimity deep down.
I had really looked forward to reading this book, but it was something of a disappointment. perhaps I was expecting too much.

First, I should say that I thought the look into the creative process was interesting, and, in some cases, fascinatng. I was not surprised or disappointed by the disagreements among the members of the group; that is expected in any group endeavor and especially in creative collaborations among those who are looking to push boundaries. what was a little disheartening is tha
Martin Burrows
If you are a Monty Python fan you will like this book. Be aware however that it is really just a compilation of interviews cut up and pieced together. The sub-title of the book is "a Oral History", which is pretty accurate. The author had long interviews with each of the 5 remaining Pythons, plus several other people who were involved in the shows and films, and then he pieced them all together as if it was one big interview with everyone present at the same place and time, which was not the cas ...more
Sid Nuncius
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Monty Python Speaks. It gives a chronological account of Python from its birth through interview extracts with all six male Pythons, Carol Cleveland and others involved in the production. It’s not especially funny, but it’s interesting and entertaining.

I should probably say that I was about 15 when Python began on TV and was soon a devotee, so I have more interest in this than some other people may. I enjoyed reading about the group dynamics, the details of the writing process and the
DB  (DB's Guide to the Galaxy)
I mean my only knowledge of Monty Python and everything is basically just the Holy Grail (the movie they made), so 😂😂 and then a couple of clips from Fawlty Towers – which I think is just John Cleese and not really the rest of the Pythons. So this will be pretty fun to read – but I guess that’s what biographies are for?

It’s less of a biography and more of a transcription of a biography or a really long interview. Of course, if you’re not interested in Monty Python, this wouldn’t really be intere
Mar 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely an interesting read for fans of Monty Python. It was a bit slow/dry at times, but overall it was a fascinating insight into the process behind a lot of their work. It was also nice to learn more about the personalities of each of the members, and their contributions throughout producing their famous movies and shows.

One random side note about my book in particular: it had a printing mishap that I hadn't encountered before. Near the end, the pages went 291, 292, 291, 292, 295, 296, 293
May 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun to read a section or two before bed, although there's not much I didn't already know (including that Terry Gilliam is completely up himself and seems like he would be insufferable to work with, which is perhaps why the rest of the Pythons just left him in a closet to do his little cartoons). ...more
Daisy Gunner
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really, bloody love Python. R.I.P Messrs Innes, Jones and belatedly Chapman. 💔
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About all you'd want from a Monty Python oral history, with the added bonus that they're all very open and honest about their problems with themselves and one another. ...more
S.J. Tyson
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written in a question-and-answer form, this book is most definitely Monty Python's own words. Covering the time prior to the Pythons working together as a team up to the point when they had moved on to separate ventures, there is much insight on the team as individuals and as a group. There is one particularly interesting chapter that has descriptions of each Python from impressions expressed by the other Pythons. An all-around entertaining book on all the Pythons as told directly by them and th ...more
Sarah Magdalene
It starts slow but this is a great read for anyone that loves Monty Python.
Jul 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Monty Python, People interested in the nineteen-seventies.
I confess to having only flipped through this book, but I kept flipping and suspect I've read about half of it. I avoided it for years. In fact, I didn't even glance through it until February, 2007, at least fifteen years after it came out.
It's a lot more revealing than I expected it to be. I get a real picture of Graham Chapman. I've searched in vain elsewhere for any account of him that really portrays him as a three-dimensional person. Part of the reason this book is so revealing about him is
S. Taylor
Mar 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How satisfied you are in reading books about the history of Monty Python will be reflected in which order you read them in -- most of them regurgitate the same quotes over and over, with just a little bit more spin.

This is the first of several history of Python books that I finished, and, most of the information being new, I enjoyed it. If you've listened to the Python Autobiography or read some of the other books about them, you may not have the same opinion.

That said, one of the unique things
Sean O'Hara
Mar 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hollywood
This is a solid overview of the Monty Python phenomenon, and probably the most detailed we'll get at this far a remove, but somewhat lacking in the nitty-gritty details of writing and filming individual skits. We get a fair amount about the movies, but with the TV series we only get generalities about who paired together during writing, how they decided who should play what, and how Terry Jones kept second guessing the director. The only detailed account we get about writing a specific piece com ...more
ஐ Briansgirl (Book Queen)ஐ
Great book for Python fans. The book was written after a series of interviews of all of the surviving Pythons. Graham Chapman was not left out as everyone recalls how they worked with him, and his life partner also weights in with information about Graham. This book really tells the story of Monty Python, from the Pythons themselves. They talk about how they got started, working on the tv show, later each movie is discussed, even their HBO reunion show by US Comedy Central is discussed. There ar ...more
Greg Ross
Feb 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are plenty of Python books out there, but this is my favorite: A collection of interviews with individual Pythons, talking about the group, its origins, themselves, each other, their projects, and their legacy. The only missing member is Graham Chapman, but a surprisingly clear picture of him emerges through the comments of other people, including Douglas Adams, who worked briefly with Chapman in 1974. There are plenty of stories of the group's travails -- particularly in making Monty Pyth ...more
Cliff Hays
Oct 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was great. A must-read for Python fans. It was excellent to get the different perspectives of each Python as well as the many other important individuals involved. Most fascinating was their writing dynamic as a group. I did not realize prior to reading this that there were basically two writing teams (Jones/Palin and Cleese/Chapman), a lone-writer/quasi-mediator (Idle), and a lone-animator/sketch-connector (Gilliam). I can't believe the six were able to work so well together and produ ...more
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're a Monty Python fan, I would consider this a must-read. The book is a compilation of interview questions put forth to both individuals of the comedy troupe and people who were either friends or associatees who shared in the history of this groundbreaking group. The questions follow a timeline of their history, and the answers from each person are edited so they each address the different events and decisions as they remembered them. It's a great insight into the creative dynamic, the pr ...more
Jul 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
I debated about the rating between a 3 or 4. In the end I gave it a 3 since it lacked the depth that I would have liked, though to be fair, the author is clear about the content being a series of interviews of the surviving Pythons taken over a period of time.

Overall the book provides some insights into the group and each member (including Graham Chapman via his peers), though there are parts of the book that can be found from other sources on the Internet.

I can't recommend this to anyone who is
Bill Williams
Monty Python pushed sketch comedy past the far edges of absurdity and broke barriers. This oral history of the group is told by the people that were there, the core group of comedians and their support personnel. Instead of background on The Spanish Inquisition sketch or other comedy classics, there is a long section about the arguments that directors on Month Python and the Holy Grail entered into while on set. They argued on shot selection and framing.

This book is more like an episode of Behin
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fact
Monty Python Speaks! gives us a deep and detailed look into the lives of the Pythons during their time together. More than that, the book serves as an informative view into the process of creating a sketch comedy. Despite being focused on a unique era of television (and, later, a bygone era of film), the interviews herein are a wealth of advice--whether or not the Pythons meant their words to be taken that way. The only drawback is something that couldn't have been helped: the absence of Graham ...more
Tom Franklin
Monty Python Speaks is a collection of interviews the author conducted with all of the surviving Python members, Graham's partner, the producers, friends, and other actors, directors, and many vaguely tangential people to the show and movies. Those interviews are then sliced and diced to form something of a timeline of the Python show and movies, from start to end.

This style of piecing together a complex story falls short for me. I want more in-depth information and discussion than the interview
Jul 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-09
An extremely interesting behind-the-scenes look at the Pythons. Each of the main six were interviewed extensively, along with Carol Cleveland and various directors and other players in the TV show, movies, and extracurricular projects.

There were some parts that dragged, but overall, this was a really interesting read. And it desparately makes me want to rewatch Holy Grail again. Also, huge bonus, I don't feel so bad for finding Meaning of Life so boring I couldn't get past the first 20 minutes
Eric Bauman
Aug 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
This is an oral history of Monty Python through about the year 2000 as told by the members themselves (with the exception, of course, of Graham Chapman, who died in 1989) and a few other people. I didn't find many new insights, although it was interesting to hear them talk about the formation of the group. What I found really interesting was that, while all surviving members were represented, Eric Idle didn't seem to have that much to say, especially given that in the subsequent years, he seems ...more
Jeff Williams
This intense amount of interview material with the surviving Monty Python members and some of their friends/producers. Absolutely wonderful for understanding the behind-the-scenes moves and emotions and personalities that made the group so successful. The author preserved a number of conversations in lengthy, verbatim form, and that leads to a lot of repetition throughout the book. It's pretty long, but it goes quickly as you can skip and skim large portions of it. Not a great book, but ...more
Quinn Lavender
I rather enjoy the interview format of the book. Since the Pythons were interviewed separately I think it allowed them to be more frank than normal. The only drawback was that since they were interviewed for different reasons at different times, I don't think they were all asked the same questions. There were several questions posed in the book which did not have answers from all 5 of them...and I wish they had. ...more
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am sure that only an aging Python fan (such as myself) would enjoy this analysis of the evolution of the famous British comedy team...made difficult to read as a result of its' choppy style of collected interviews. It helped me to better understand the relative strengths, and unique contributions, of each of the six cast members. (Don't you just love the Dead Parrot Sketch? It makes me smile just thinking about it.) ...more
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very fun and funny look into the behind-the-scenes of Python. I was familiar with a lot of the stories, but it is always great to hear it in their own voices (I was doing the voices in my head as I read). I didn't realize how much John Cleese and Terry Gilliam don't like each other, but it felt pretty mutual and hilarious so it didn't bother me at all. Reading this did nothing to improve my feelings toward Eric Idle, though. ...more
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