BOOK REVIEW RICHARD TOPPING MONTY PYTHON FROM THE FLYING CICUS TO SPAMALOT 1999 / 2007 Virgin Press
A revised biographical study of the comedy TV, film and theatre series Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Herring provides a great deal of insight into the show and its sequels in every medium, including books, recordings, and tee shirts. Some of the episode guides and lists can be found easily enough on web sites and in other books, but the overall presentation is very straight forward with biographies of the major players, Cleese, Palin, Jones, Idle, etc. Only Carol Cleveland gets no chapter of her own. There are summaries of the solo careers of each Python star, and evaluations of the stage shows and comedy sketches at the Amnesty Secret Policeman’s events.
Herring tries to be humorous himself, which often falls flat, as he is competing and trying to play along with the legends that were Python here. His study works best in little asides, such as his listing of all the cheeses mentioned in the famous TV series Cheese-shop sketch. He also assesses the real science behind Eric Idle’s fascinating and very funny astronomy and physics study in the film The Meaning Of Life, when he steps out of a fridge to sing The Galaxy Song. Bar for a little degree of poetic license to make the lines rhyme the descriptions given are incredibly accurate.
A fun book, rich in nostalgia and genuine appreciation of its subject matter. Just a mention of some sketches is enough to bring back floods of laughter and that is how it should be.