September 24, 2016

The Ballad of Terry Jones & Monty Python

It's cliche to say that we've lost many talented people in 2016 (both famous and common), but this is the first news that totally and completely guts me.

Yesterday, I was taking care of Mom's cat (another hospital visit....too many nowadays), when I read that Terry Jones of Monty Python was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia.

News like that is never easy to take - trust me, I've been living in the shadow of another's illness for awhile. With death, there's the sudden shock, followed by grief; with illness like this, it's a more hollow, almost overwhelming sense of loss, as if the person's presence serves as a reminder of what we've lost.

And we've lost a lot.

I've mentioned before that Terry Jones was the only other member of Python that I've met in person; like John Cleese, he was one of the intellectuals of the group. With Michael Palin, he developed a surreal, visually-oriented sense of comedy that took the absurd...and then took it further with Monty Python. (If you want to see what Terry Jones was like onstage, watch the YouTube videos in the above link; they were taken at a 2009 screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail; for his pre-Python work, check out the two-DVD Do Not Adjust Your Set)

Even in his non-Python life, Jones had a sense of history, hosting documentaries on everything from Chaucer to the Crusades. He's directed many films, wrote and lectured....this wasn't a man whose last name was "Kardashian". The fact that a man so articulate is striken with the inability to remember sad and demoralizing.

Now, however, Jones is in a unique position, allowing us to bask in his work. And there's plenty of work for casual fans - or even the curious - to find out what they missed.

Or how right they were in their assessment of Terry Jones.

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