I’m back doing what I like best: putting on a show.
Ever since I was a kid at the Ophney, putting on puppet shows, I have loved the process of writing and creating a show, and the excitement of doing it live.
At Cambridge, I loved the Footlights, rehearsing and mounting revues, especially in the Summer vacation, preparing for a touring revue which would end up at the Edinburgh Festival, or on the fringes of London.
I remember assembling the material and mounting the first Python live show in Coventry, three nights of ecstatic madness, and the Python stage tours were always the most fun. Ecstatic crowds, ecstatic girls….Say no more.
I have always loved radio. My generation grew up with it. British radio comedy shows would walk that exquisitely thin line between the polite and the rude; surfing that wonderful dichotomy between how we are and how we are supposed to be, that comedy exploits. As I was growing up, and long into the sixties Radio Shows like Round The Horne with its extremely naughty innuendo, got away with murder. The double entendre is the perfect excuse for claiming innocence and blaming the audience. It goes back to Music Hall where Max Miller would excoriate his fans for laughing: “It’s people like you that get me in trouble.”
I like the girls who do
I like the girls who don’t
I like the girls who say they will
And then they say they wont
But the ones who thrill me most
On a Saturday night
I like the girl who says she won’t
But looks as though she might….thank you.
I have always liked naughty comedy, from Frankie Howerd, the great master of the wide eyed innocent entendre, “No don’t,” to Alan Bennet, the Oxford intellectual from Beyond The Fringe whose deadpan handling of innuendo would make me howl with joy. “Autumn has worked its gay magic and Clarissa is pregnant again.” There’s something rather joyous about intelligent rudeness.
And now it is time for my Dick.
I have just finished another draft, the tenth so far, and I’m sure I’m not through. The songs are coming together nicely, the tickets are almost all sold out (hurry dears it promises to be fairly amusing) and yesterday we had another production meeting on stage at The Orpheum, a long table of about thirty folks; it takes a Village, people, to put on a show….
We have a great company of actors and an equally great company back stage, from the exquisite sets of Sybil Wickersheimer and the lovely costumes of Ann Clos-Farley to our extraordinary trout wrangler Leslie Carrara-Rudolph who comes off Sesame Street to make me a dancing trout. She made me a Penis Fish for my 2000 Tour, which we took on the Bill Maher show; not the first prick to be on… sorry, this innuendo stuff becomes contagious.
We are an independent production. We have raised the finance, and we are staging and shooting this thing ourselves but it would not be possible without two gentlemen, who enable me to concentrate on my obsession with the script and the songs and the actors.
I have had the best fortune with Producers since the beloved Bill Haber on Spamalot. Arnold Engelman is currently in from New York. We have done three shows together, first the tryout of What About Dick? at The Montalban, then Rutlemania! a crazy live interactive tribute show, and latterly An Evening Without Monty Python, both of which also played New York. Arnold ran The Westbeth Theater in the Village, where I saw Eddie Izzard and Billy Connolly. He is extraordinarily energetic, pays great attention to detail, and has consummate taste in comedians.
My other Producer is the extraordinary John Goldstone, who has been producing things for me since Monty Python and The Holy Grail. He produced all the Python movies. Currently he has produced the latest Grail Blueray edition and the new Python App The Book of Days, which shows the making of the movie and actually interacts with the Blueray if you have both (nudge nudge). He produced our Oratorio Not The Messiah, He’s a Very Naughty Boy, which I am sure you have seen…(wink wink.)
These two with my long-time pal Tom Hoberman make it all possible. Thanks chaps.
And I’m sure you can’t wait to see my Dick.