Eric Idle OnlineMy Life

One hundred years of PythOnline.

By , January 2, 2015 4:34 pm

June 36th 1996/7

“PythOnline!” muttered Terry Gilliam derisively “Eric’s Fan Club more like.”

“Oo you bastard” I said “You’re all more than welcome to contribute.  In fact I just spent a whole year working on it for absolutely nothing.”

“I like the Message Boards” said Jonesy, rather unflatteringly.    In fact extremely unflatteringly since I don’t write those bits, you do.  After some prodding he conceded it was a jolly good site and we should definitely keep going.    I think the we means me.

“What I need” said Michael” is someone to say “Come up with six new pieces every month.”      “Michael” I say “Come up with six new pieces every month.”  Laughter.    To reconcile me to earning nothing they very kindly offer to increase my percentage!    Much Pythonic glee.  “What exactly is 50% of fuck all?” I ask.


Just to reassure all the correspondents on Ask PythOnline who keep asking, I have not left, in fact I am very much involved in PythOnline making sure we stay up and online.   No matter how hard I try and escape 7th Level employees keep me chained to that radiator.   “Where’s the new fake open?”,  “Where’s the New Stuff column for this week,” “What about next week?”   They are merciless.  I try telling them I have a life but they only laugh at me.  “ Had a life buster, they chortle.   This is the Internet.  There is no escape.”

Yes it seems incredible but the Python one year lease expires and at midnight we shall be handing this web site over to the Chinese.   (Ancient Hong Kong joke.)

It has been an amazing time, and I want to personally thank everybody who was involved.   I need to single out for special mention Bob Ezrin and LeAnn, and all the wonderful people at 7th Level, particularly Jeanna Crawford, Robin Hinnen (our excellent resident graphic artist) and the untiring Hollis Leach.     Some people came and went and have departed for other worlds and other webs,  I am thinking especially of the amazing Steve Martino, but there’s Matt Lee who is sadly missed and honorable mentions should go to the back room boffins and web monkeys who have kept us online through the rough storms and occasional gales that blow around these parts.

Last of all I should like to thank me.   Not many of you will have had the privilege of knowing me and working alongside me, but let me just tell you a finer and nicer and more upstanding human being you could never imagine.   Oh Mike has his fans, and his appalling niceness that surrounds him like latex round a warm phallus, but I am the real thing.  Even John Cleese has been known to admit that I have the finest feet.   Terry Jones for too long has bathed in the warm glow that comes from standing beside me.  Terry Gilliam can not get up in the morning without bowing in my general direction and thanking his own weird God that he was fortunate enough to meet me.    And these are just a few of the Pythons whose lives have been enriched by knowing me and working alongside me.   Modesty forbids I should say anything further about myself,  but it would be wrong of me to let this occasion pass without a small word of thank you to myself for simply being me.

The future?    Well who knows.   There are big plans in the works.   Some of these plans are almost five feet tall.    We will be keeping you informed of these big plans, and even some very big big plans as Year Two progresses.

Happy holidays wherever you are.





Song. It’s A Dog’s Life. (Aka The Dog’s Bollocks)

By , December 27, 2014 8:03 am

It’s a dog’s life

Being a dog

Quite frankly I would rather be a frog.

I’m bored to tears with barking

If there was some one I could sue

I’m just a bloody lap dog

And they call me a Shit Zu

The job is shit, the name is shit

And shit is all you do.

Its a dogs life

Being a dog.



To be a lap dog everyday

Sitting in her lap

Listening to her talking

All the damn day yap yap yap

The only time you get away

Is when you need a crap

It’s a dog’s life

Being a dog.



Labradors are noodles

And poodles are a bore

To breed them both together

Would make any poor bitch sore

To make a labradoodle

Oh my gawd whatever for?

It’s a dog’s life

Being a dog.



It’s a dog’s life

Being a dog

You might think  it’s easier

Than falling off a log

But frankly I would rather be

Stuck head first in a bog!

It’s a dogs life being a dog


Listening to them moan all day

On the telephone

Makes you want to run away

And live a life alone

At the end of all that bitching

All you get’s a fucking bone!

It’s a dogs life

Being a dog.



It’s a dog’s life

Being a dog

Quite frankly I would rather be a frog.

They molly you and collie you

And treat you like a putz

They take you out on play dates

With a lot of stupid mutts

They tell you that you’re man’s best friend

And then cut off your nuts!

It’s a dog’s life being a dog.







  1. c) EI/JDP

May 19, 2009


By , November 27, 2014 11:40 am

A few years back Glen Wexler asked me to write a foreword for his very funny book of Cows.    What I wrote is below.  But a year later this picture appeared at my house unexpectedly….  He had taken my joke and trumped it.    Read on and you’ll see how….

On Location In Greenland by Glen  Glen Wexler On location in Greenland.

Ciao Cow.

As everybody knows I probably know more about cows than anyone on this planet.  Actually that’s not true.   It’s a bald faced lie.  (Why bald faced incidentally, don’t bearded people lie just as well?   Surely they lie better because you can’t see their faces?)   Sorry I digress.

The thing is I’m a bit stumped.  This Glen Wexler person called me up and asked me to write a foreword for his book and frankly I don’t know a single thing about him, about photography, or for that matter about cows.  So I’m kind of stuck out on a limb here, busking as we call it, faking it, as my wife calls it, or telling the truth to the America people as your politicians put it.

So what do I do?  Do I come clean and leave the rest of the page empty?  Do I bullshit for a bit?   (Incidentally there’s a cow reference right there.)  Or do I try and pretend that my esoteric knowledge of cows in comedy somehow qualifies me to waste your time like this?  Because I do know a bit about cows in comedy.  Here’s what I know:

Cows are always funny.

 There is a cow in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail.   It is thrown over the battlements and squashes a page.

“Fetchez La Vache” says the French Taunter, and the French knights appear with a cow which they load on to a  Trebuchet (which is French for a machine that chucks cows.)Preflight by Glen Fetchez la Vache!

We do the same scene in Spamalot.  We throw a cow over the battlements which lands on Patsy, Arthur’s page, every night.   And most matinees.  (Occasionally they miss.)  We even had a Cow song.  We thought it would be funny if we gave the Cow a sad and touching farewell song as she went off to war.  It wasn’t.

COW                           I’m just a lonely cow who has a dream

That each and every one of us is part of nature’s scheme

That somehow every single cow

Can make a difference to just how

This world is now today – it’s true

So here’s my final moo!


It was just too sad.   You can’t have an elegant Christian Dior cow singing a heartbreaking farewell and then being thrown over the battlements and expect to get a laugh.   We now care about the damn cow.   So here’s what I learned:

Cows aren’t always funny.

So it got cut in Chicago.  Not the first cow that got cut in Chicago, which is practically the center of the cow cutting world.  They even have a Hamburger U. there, which shows just how weird and strange they are.

So, let me see, cows… ah yes.   In Bavaria once with Monty Python we filmed the Bad Toltz Cattle Herd giving a performance of The Merchant of Venice. We shot lots of cows in Shakespearian costume wandering around the field with Shakespearian sub-titles and lots of mooing.

“What news on the Rialto Antonio?”

I played a very sincere German Theater critic: “The Merchant of Venice is a very difficult play for cows…”

Here’s what I learned:

Sometimes cows aren’t even funny in German.

So now what have I got?  Well frankly, nothing.   I have some chicken stories.  An odd tale about a duck.  What?   Say something about Glen?   Well, ok.  Glen is a seven foot Scotsman with a wooden leg whom I met Frog Rolling on an Eskimo trip in Northern Greenland.  We were sheltering in a sauna at a local bordello with an Icelandic babe called Splut… no I agree it’s a hopeless and pathetic lie.    You see I haven’t even met him.  It’s useless.   I’m dismal as a Foreword writer.  I’ve got nothing to say.  I didn’t want this job, I didn’t ask for this job.  I just wanted to be….a lumberjack!

So why did I do it?  Why did I take it on?   Well, honestly, I did it for the money.  The Publishers came to me and said “Eric we will give you thirty thousand pounds if you will write a foreword….” what?   They offered how much?  Nothing?   Jeeze.   Well that’s it then.   I’m out of here.   Let’s face it, if you don’t find these pictures funny on first sight no amount of forewords will persuade you otherwise.   So frankly enjoy.



The Cow through the Ages

The Seven Ages of Spam

Why the Cow almost became the symbol of America?

The Cow in Literature with regard to Jane Austen and Dickens

Fetchez La Vache.   A French Dairy Dictionary


For more of Glen’s work see:

The Rutland Isles

By , November 20, 2014 6:44 pm


by Eric Idle
Sunday, 9 February 2003

The Rutland Isles CD and calendar are available from

Pre-order the CD here

Download a sample from the album!


Read the press release!

At some point in the early 1980’s I got the idea of doing a documentary about a group of islands that don’t exist. What a terrific idea, I thought, a story of a place. Not just the story of a few people, but whole peoples, different cultures, different ways of life. They would be called The Rutland Isles and they would be a parody of a travel documentary with weird animals. We would visit strange places and use real documentary footage. I wrote quite a lot of material and then did outlines of a visit to six of these different islands – Poluçion, Paranoia, Amnesia, Contracepçion, Revoluçion, and Liberaçion. Nobody was interested. Not agents, not friends, not people in the media, not even relatives. Not even my dog. It was weird. The reaction was nada. Zero. Zip.

Fairly early on my main character became clear to me. I always heard his voice as that gentle insistent civilized informative voice of David Attenborough whose immensely popular and entertaining series on Life on Earth and its various inhabitants were just beginning on BBC TV.

I had just finished writing and directing The Frog Prince for cable and I would often sit around and play guitar with Ricky Fataar and Van Dyke Parks and Charlie Dore. I began writing songs for The Rutland Isles. I find this a great way forward in any project. About 1983 we went into a studio in Santa Monica and made some very nice tracks with this bunch of friends. I had spent a lot of time on the Caribbean islands of Barbados and Trinidad and the music we made then was heavily influenced by those great times. It still remains joyful and relaxed and this recorded music has always kept my love of these Rutland islands going. Imaginary music from imaginary places.

One day I was sitting around in the South of France when my phone rang. It was Hollywood calling. Don Simpson, a famous movie producer, and partner of Jerry Bruckheimer, had somehow got wind of my script, read it and loved it. He went on and on about it. He talked about Jonathan Swift how it was the greatest piece of satire etc etc – on and on for an hour. Non stop. How could I be anything but bowled over? At last, everything I had always wanted to hear about my project. I got off the phone totally blown away.

So, of course, this being Hollywood calling I had to fly immediately to New York to meet this man. Next thing I am in a smart hotel on Fifth Avenue ringing on the Suite door. A thin anxious looking man answers. This is Jerry. He looks kind of worried “Don’s not up yet” he explains and we have some coffee and bullshit until, from the wreckage of a nearby bedroom, Don finally emerges in a bath towel with wet hair looking kinda the worse for wear. But soon it’s all business as Don gets down to notes. He loves it, but of course things are going to have to be changed. To start with this is now a movie so we are going to need some characters. And a plot. I remembered an opening I wrote for The Meaning of Life, a long piece of prose about a plane crash in the open sea, where the hero ends up on the First Class Life raft. So that’s gonna be the movie. It’s now about a small group of people, a rock star, a TV journalist, a Bishop, a bimbo, and an angry politician, who arrive on the beach of a strange island.

A few years and several drafts later we are getting nowhere. It’s becoming clear to me that trying to shovel plot into what was essentially a documentary just isn’t flying. It’s now called And Now This. In the intervening drafts it has been called Hot Property as well as The Rutland Isles. It’s now about a guy who joins a US TV station and whose TV van washes ashore after a violent storm sinks their ferry, with an obnoxious TV presenter called Maisy whom he hates. They begin to broadcast from these islands which no one can seem to find or identify. Something very weird is happening and at the end, after having been kidnapped, they escape by boat just in time as – get this – the islands take off. That’s an image I always loved, a whole island group lifting off and sailing away into space. Water dripping off as they lift away. They were aliens you see….

But that’s the problem. The Rutland Isles to me are real islands, inhabited by real people. They are a parody of the real world, a way of laughing at the ways we look at ourselves and our cultures. It doesn’t work to have plot and character shoveled in. Don moved on to his own private tragedy and I picked up a new producer and good friend in David Giler who took the project to several studios while we played that form of touch football known as development. Various studios seemed interested but no one committed, and it eventually sank back into that sand bank that is the graveyard of good ideas….

OK. Flash forward. It’s 2002. I have just finished making my second mocumentary on the Rutles called Can’t Buy Me Lunch. I have had a very good time on it, playing the narrator, twenty five years older and still spouting on about the damn Rutles. This time he looks back at their influence on contemporaries such as Tom Hanks, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, David Bowie, Salman Rushdie, Mike Nichols, Robin Williams, Steve Martin and Gary Shandling. I have found the original out-takes in a warehouse in New Jersey and we have cleverly sunk up some of Neil Innes’ new old Rutle tracks. We have even sold it to Warner Brothers. So, what am I going to do next?

I like working for myself. I am the most agreeable of employers. Although an exacting boss I seldom disagree with myself and am very generous about time off to be with my family. So I get out the old Rutland Isles project. I play the music. Perfect. I still like it. And now cable is bristling with documentaries narrated by British men in shorts. You can hardly turn on TV without some Brit yapping away from an exotic location you have never heard of about some creature you didn’t know existed. Australians are torturing alligators and the language all over the screen. Nature is now big show business. Travel has its own channel. At last, I think, now everyone will get it. Right? Wrong. Still no one is interested.

But I don’t give up. Why don’t I just make this as an audio project? I can afford to fund that. My friend and partner John Du Prez comes out to California to work with me on a Broadway musical and once again falls in love with the California winter. He decides to stay. Great. So we set to work in Larry Mah’s tiny garage studio in Sylmar. There is barely room for John and his keyboards and computers let alone room for me to plug in a guitar. I have to stand in a closet to do the voices. But it’s fun. And it is executive free. And nobody says no.

I have written a bunch of new stuff and pulled out my favorite bits from a big box filled with old scripts and John and I write a whole raft of new silly songs and we set to in a big binge of recording in our tiny Valley garage studio. My main narrator is now Nigel Spasm, an irritating award-seeking journalist. After months of editing and re-recording and re-editing (shape is everything) the CD becomes two episodes from his award-seeking series. (There are over 498, 000 of these Rutland Isles: enough to keep Nigel on television for the next 25,000 years. ) The rest of the year is taken up with editing and mixing and finally we even make a 28 page calendar of pictures and postcards from the Rutland Isles, a full color spoof that you shouldn’t miss as it’s great value and only available on line.

So there it is finally: the CD mocumentary of Nigel Spasm’s visit to The Rutland Isles. Out on March 4th on BMG. I do hope you’ll enjoy it. It has been a labor of love and something I always knew I would make one day. I hope you’ll enjoy the CD, the web site, the Calendar and who knows perhaps one day the TV show…..

Eric Idle
February 03