Monty Python's John Cleese, Eric Idle Reunite In 'Together Again At Last'
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And now for something completely different. My colleague here, Robert, interviews John Cleese and Eric Idle - or tries to.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
All right. I'm going to, first of all, attempt to read an introduction.
JOHN CLEESE: Can we make little noises while you're doing it?
SIEGEL: Yes, you may. Feel free. (Laughter). Feel free, OK?
CLEESE: (Laughter) OK.
SIEGEL: Now, memories of lumberjacks who are OK, parrots who aren't, knights who say ni, Englishmen being turned into Scotsman by a pudding from outer space, the Ministry of Silly Walks and much else.
CLEESE: (Making popping noises).
SIEGEL: (Laughter) If none of this rings a bell with you (laughter), nor the noises that you're hearing behind me, it's probably because you are unfamiliar with Monty Python. And unfamiliarity probably breeds something that you don't want. Anyway...
CLEESE: (Making growling noise).
SIEGEL: (Laughter). The occasion for this item with accompaniment is that two of the founders of the great English comedy group Monty Python, John Cleese and Eric Idle...
CLEESE: (Making farting noise).
SIEGEL: ...(Laughter) Are soon taking their show, "Together Again At Last...For The Very First Time" to the United States in October. And they are, as you can hear, joining us from London to talk about it. Welcome to both of you.
ERIC IDLE: Thank you very much.
IDLE: Very nice. We are the two tallest members, by the way. The two tallest surviving members.
CLEESE: The only two good-looking ones, Cleese.
IDLE: Yes. So that's why we're together again at last for the very first time.
CLEESE: But it wasn't easy to get rid of Palin, was it? I mean, he was desperate to be with us, you know, 'cause his career's not going so well.
CLEESE: We said, there's only room here for two people on stage, Mickey (ph). So he's gone off to do one of those (yawning) travel series that he does so well.
SIEGEL: Michael Palin, yeah. Perhaps you could begin - not that you haven't begun already - but by explaining the title of the show, which actually makes more sense that it sounds, "Together Again At Last...For The Very First Time."
IDLE: Well, actually, I like - my latest title I like very much, which is the world tour of Florida because that describes rather more what we're actually doing. We are seriously touring Florida for a month with a little bit of an extension up to Baltimore. I think we bounce into Baltimore.
CLEESE: Yes, we go through Georgia and North Carolina.
IDLE: But we are in fact - we are actually together again at last for the very first time, just the two of us, you know? We've never done this. We did talk about it in a million years ago when we were much younger.
CLEESE: And it happened as I think a lot of sort of interesting things sometimes happen - by complete accident, which is, last year in November, I was in LA and Eric very kindly agreed to interview me for my book. I was playing my autobiography. And we just went out in Pasadena in front of a very friendly, warm audience. And afterwards, we couldn't remember a single thing we'd said. It was a total riot. And we didn't say it at the time, but the two of us kind of independently thought, hmm, there's money in them there laugh.
SIEGEL: Now, is the fact that you're going to Florida - I guess in season. In October, it's a good time to go to Florida...
IDLE: Yes, it's the only place we could find people older than we are to entertain.
SIEGEL: Well, I was going to raise that delicately.
SIEGEL: Are you seeking out folks who'll remember you from the 1970s?
IDLE: Well, we don't need people with memories, but people who do remember to come to the theater would be nice.
CLEESE: The ones to start our references - John Foster Dulles and things like that.
IDLE: We think it's a very jolly good senior evening.
CLEESE: Actually, there's two reasons for coming to Florida. First of all, it's a nice place to go and it's warm. And the towns and cities are quite close together so we don't have to fly domestic - because I find these days, any domestic flights in America or Europe are just horrible. I'm just so uncomfortable. So we'll be able to get everywhere by car. And the other thing is, we don't know if it's going to be any good. It may be absolutely terrible.
CLEESE: We could be better...
IDLE: We can dream.
CLEESE: Yes, we can dream.
CLEESE: But even if it's just satisfactory, we may want to keep it quiet, and it'll be easier to keep it quiet if we've been in Florida than it would be if we've been somewhere like New York.
IDLE: An evening of just satisfactory entertainment.
IDLE: Barely entertaining, said the Florida Examiner.
IDLE: If you're doing nothing else for the next three years then you should probably avoid this show.
SIEGEL: Well, this is...
CLEESE: An evening of sit-down comedy.
SIEGEL: (Laughter). Is...
CLEESE: Actually, my wife had a nice title for it, but Eric didn't like it. And my wife suggested that we should call it the two Erics, you see?
SIEGEL: How would that work with your being named John?
CLEESE: Well, I could change my name quite easily. I could become Eric Cleese. And she thought it was such a catchy title. She didn't see any great difficulty with it. But I couldn't persuade Eric, who's a very rational guy and keeps his eye on the bottom line.
IDLE: Well, I kept looking for the joke, you know? But I think the secret is that John thinks Eric is a funny name because he once heard a sketch where everything in it was called Eric. It was Eric the fish and Eric the fruit bat...
CLEESE: That's right.
IDLE: ...And Eric the half a bee.
IDLE: So he just thinks - being a snobby Southerner, really, he thinks that Eric, which is a Northern name...
CLEESE: Shame on you, Eric. It's not a northern name. I had an Uncle Eric, and I adored him. I adored Uncle Eric. He made wonderful, wonderful little models of boats.
IDLE: Were they U-boats?
CLEESE: No, they were me boats.
SIEGEL: They were U-boats, yeah.
CLEESE: I promise you, the show - the listeners - we should promise the listeners the show will be a lot better than this.
IDLE: Oh, don't worry, the listeners have already switched off, John.
SIEGEL: Does the show...
CLEESE: You'll edit out the bad bits, won't you, Robert?
IDLE: If he can find any good ones...
SIEGEL: If we can find any good ones, we'll edit out the bad bits. Yeah, we'll do that - for sure. Does - is the show, is it only the two of you, or do you have a supporting cast of extras, a chorus, sheep, anything like that in this production?
IDLE: Just the two of us 'cause last year at O2, we did it with - you know, we had a huge a show to fill a huge arena.
IDLE: And we had 20 very beautiful boys and girls who, you know, came and sang and danced. And this year, they are sadly not coming with us because (laughter) they're very expensive.
CLEESE: Yes, this is unbelievably cheap. I mean, it cost them two armchairs, a projector for slides and there's going to be a table and two chairs. So that's it.
IDLE: And one naked lady.
CLEESE: One naked lady.
SIEGEL: Well, look, I could keep you here for a long time, but...
IDLE: Please do. Please do.
SIEGEL: (Laughter) You guys have been great, but we do have some of that pointless news to get to on our program.
SIEGEL: I know.
IDLE: Which is why we are so grateful for NPR. Let's say that' cause I'm a huge NPR fan.
CLEESE: We love NPR.
IDLE: And in my car, NPR is always on.
CLEESE: NPR in my car.
CLEESE: There's a slogan for you. You can have that for free.
SIEGEL: OK. (Laughter). Well, I'll try to say thank you, and you can make whatever appropriate noises you want to make during that.
CLEESE: (Making growling noise).
SIEGEL: Well, John Cleese and Eric Idle.
CLEESE: (Making snorting noise).
SIEGEL: Thank you. Thank you very much (laughter) for both speaking with us and also communicating in this way as well. Thanks a lot for talking with us.
IDLE: (Laughter). Thank you, Robert.
SIEGEL: Cleese and Idle's show, coming next month to Florida, is called, "Together Again At Last...For The Very First Time."
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LIFE OF BRIAN")
UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (As characters, singing) Always look on the bright side of life.
IDLE: (As Lead Singer Crucifee) Come on, guys, cheer up.
UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (As characters, singing) Always look on the bright side of life. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.