This week we lost Terry Jones (1942-2020), a talented Welsh actor, screenwriter, director, and historian. Today’s quote from the 2006 documentary Barbarians (2006).
Terry Jones, one of the founding members of British comedy troupe Monty Python, passed away on January 21, 2020. For you young folks, Monty Python were a British surreal comedy group who created the sketch comedy television show Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969-1974) which first aired on the BBC, with 45 episodes aired. The Python phenomenon developed from the television series into something larger in scope and impact, including touring stage shows, films, albums, books and a Broadway musical. The Pythons were to comedy what The Beatles were to music.
Monty Python’s Flying Circus was conceived, written and performed by Jones, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, and Michael Palin. They pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable in style and content on television. The Pythons had creative control which allowed them to experiment with form and content, discarding rules of television comedy. Following their television work, they began making films, including Monty Python And The Holy Grail (1975), Life Of Brian (1979) and The Meaning Of Life (1983). In the USA, their influence planted the seeds for Saturday Night Live.
“Pythonesque” is now part of the English lexicon.
Jones, like the rest of the Pythons, performed multiple roles in their pieces. In Monty Python And The Holy Grail, he played Sir Bedivere the Wise, who conducts a witch trail by seeing if a witch is heavier than a duck. He also appeared as Prince Herbert, a prince who doesn’t want to marry but wants to sing show tunes instead.
In Life Of Brian, he plays Brian’s mother who yells:
“He’s not the messiah — he’s a very naughty boy!”
Jones made his directorial debut with Monty Python And The Holy Grail, co-directing with Gilliam. He was the sole director of Life Of Brian and The Meaning Of Life.
He directed the comedy Absolutely Anything (2015) starring Simon Pegg and Robin Williams in his final film role. It was the first movie to feature all living members of Monty Python since 1983. He wrote the original screenplay for the cult classic Labyrinth (1986), starring David Bowie.
In 2015, Jones revealed that he had been diagnosed with aphasia, a form of dementia. The aphasia made it difficult to learn lines and give interviews as time went on.
Jones was 77 years old when his final credits rolled.