Python boys were on hand at the second annual Empire Awards recently
(March 5). The affair, sponsored by Miller Draft and hosted by British
entertainment magazine, Empire, was held at London's Park Lane Hotel
where a sizable collection of British and American entertainers showed
up to pay tribute. The Empire Awards are similar to the People's Choice
awards in the United States where the movie-going public nominates and
chooses the winners.
the winners this year... the Monty Python team! Sure, the boys haven't
done anything as a Flying Circus in years, but their contributions to
filmmaking were nevertheless recognized with the very-special Empire Inspiration
Award. This award is "...given to the filmmaker(s) who have most
inspired others to take a chance at the world of moviemaking themselves."
Said Empire magazine, "we gave those rather funny chaps formerly
known as Monty Python's Flying Circus an Inspiration Award for having
revolutionized television, changed the nature of comedy forever, and
written, directed and starred, in some of the funniest, most original
and groundbreaking movies ever made."
award was presented by famed rocker Elton John, who, apparently, is
a huge Python fan. He described how he and his band used to watch Python
videos in the hotel after their show, smoking dope and running around
pretending to be the knights who say "Ni!" "And other
useless things like 'Get that for me Deirdre'- always a catchphrase,"
said Elton John, using a familiar Meaning of Life reference.
Receiving the award in person were the two Terrys (Jones and Gilliam)
and Michael Palin. Before they got their say, Eric Idle and John Cleese
made an appearance on video, since they were in Los Angeles and couldn't
attend in person. Some of the speeches were typically Python. This is
what they had to say:
IDLE: (Aside, casually) "Look, I'm not gonna sit here
and gloat and say 'Here I am in Hollywood on a lovely sunny day'
and they're stuck in miserable old rainy London. Because that's
really shallow and insincere and I don't want to come across ...
(Suddenly noticing camera) Oh, hi, gosh, how very nice of you it
is to give me this wonderful Inspiration Award from Empire magazine
for encouraging those jolly funny chaps; Michael and Terry and Terry
and, er, the other one, Terry, for helping them to be funny all
those years ago. Apparently, we were hilarious - haha - but luckily
I can't remember because I've got Alzheimer's disease. Anyway, I
better go now because I've got a very important business meeting
with the head of a major studio. And he's promised to touch my thighs
and he's promised to give me a major part in a film if I touch his
thi- if I just write something for him. Okay. Sorry. Bye."
CLEESE: "Good evening. I'm very touched that Empire
magazine has given this lovely award to what is left of the Monty
Python group. As you all realize, time has taken its toll on the
team. Graham Chapman has been dead for several years now, which
is sad. He may have been a silly old queen but we were fond of him.
At least, two of us were. And as you've just heard Eric Idle has
Alzheimer's now which is a good thing because it helps him to forget
that he's only got four months left. And, of course, poor dear Terry
Gilliam died last September which was a big, big shock to us all.
But I'm delighted that he's being represented at the Awards in London
this evening by a cousin of his from Mexico. Buenos dias, Senor
Rodriguez, muchas grazias.. .. for coming along tonight. And then,
of course, only last Tuesday Terry Jones had the latest in a series
of massive heart attacks and I think it's wonderful that he has
dragged himself from the operating table to be with you all this
evening on what is probably one last evenings on earth. So effectively,
there's only Michael Palin and myself left. And I don't know if
you've seen Michael Palin's X-ray recently (produces one from medical
envelope) but this is not good, not good, I'm afraid. So, those
of us who are still with you are pathetically grateful for this
Award, for any kind of public attention at all these days, really.
So thank you and could we possibly, possibly have another one next
year? Only it gives one something to live for. (he touches his heart
in concern) Thank you."
John Cleese's acceptance speech, recorded while he was in Los Angeles,
had the entire audience in stitches. A (well deserved) standing ovation
was then given to the Pythons present at Park Lane. Michael Palin, Terry
Gilliam, and Terry Jones stepped forward to receive the award from Elton
John and made the following speeches:
"Thank you, especially to John Cleese - the only Python to
opt to be cryogenically frozen so far and it obviously worked.
This is a pretty disastrous blow for us. Coming in the same week
that Swansea Borough Council lifted their ban on The Life Of Brian
after 17 years, this has shot our street cred to pieces. But we'd
have only accepted this from Empire magazine, I'll tell you that.
I thank you very much. Meanwhile, the directors . . . "
"It has been a week of wonders really with Swansea Council
lifting the ban on The Life Of Brian, now getting all the Monty
Python team together to accept an award. The only thing that's
left as far as I can see is that if the bloody Government would
announce the election! I'd wish they'd get on with it. Anyway,
I'd just like to say also thanks to Ann James for keeping us together
for so long and to Ian MacNaughton for directing the TV shows.
Thanks a lot..."
"I think one speech from me is enough (see below), so I think
it's time to eat, isn't it?..."
When prompted afterwards about winning the Inspiration Award, Terry
Jones responded modestly "I find it hard to see the influence we
had on the other things I must say." Terry Gilliam agreed: "I
think we all expected the floodgates to open and then really outrageous
comedy to follow, but it didn't really happen. It hasn't really hit
in the way we thought. Maybe we ruined everybody. We shouldn't get the
Inspiration Award at all."
- "Thank Your Readers One and Alll..."
in Empire, May 1997, pp. 16-24.
- "And The Winners Are..." in Empire,
April 1997, p. 16.