Today we honor Terry Jones, immortal member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a tv program which truly needs no introduction. Jones was a founding Python, establishing the troupe along with Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, and Michael Palin. When Monty Python’s Flying Circus premiered in the UK in 1969, the troupe presented a zany, silly, and irreverent sketch comedy show that was both smart… and absolutely ridiculous. There had never been anything like it before, and the show was a hit in the UK and abroad.
Jones is credited as the man responsible for Flying Circus’ surrealist comedy and pacing. Instead of punch lines ending a sketch, Jones often appeared as a naked organist, or he had Graham Chapman barge in dressed in military regalia and declare a sketch “too silly.” Jones also wrote the famous ‘Spam’ sketch.
Even though Flying Circus only aired until 1974, Jones and the rest of the troupe reunited to film several movies. Jones co-directed or directed most of the Python movies, including Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Meaning of Life and The Life of Brian. After honing his directing skills on these films, he went on to direct other movies, including Erik the Viking and several documentary series. Some of these documentaries were based on his own scholarly works, as Jones also found time to publish monographs on Chaucer. He also wrote over a dozen children’s books.
It’s hard to capture the amazing life of this man in a simple blog post. I grew up watching (selected) Flying Circus sketches, and I can’t count the number of times Jones has made me laugh as Sir Bedivere or Mandy Cohen. He’d also probably hate this obituary, so I’ll just leave you with this: