Comedy fans around the world were dealt a huge blow on Wednesday morning with the news that Monty Python legend Terry Jones had passed away on Tuesday:
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) January 22, 2020
It was first announced that Jones was suffering from dementia in the fall of 2016, so he has obviously been out of the public eye for a while now.
Jones’ agent confirmed his death, while his family also issued a statement. “We have all lost a kind, funny, warm, creative, and truly loving man whose uncompromising individuality, relentless intellect, and extraordinary humor has given pleasure to countless millions across six decades,” they said. “His work with Monty Python, his books, films, television programs, poems, and other work will live on forever, a fitting legacy to a true polymath.”
On Twitter, Jones’ Monty Python partner John Cleese wrote: “Just heard about Terry J. It feels strange that a man of so many talents and such endless enthusiasm should have faded so gently away… Of his many achievements, for me the greatest gift he gave us all was his direction of Life of Brian. Perfection. Two down, four to go.”
For comedians from a certain era like myself, the Pythons were revered not just for the fact that they were consistently hilarious, but for their impossible-to-imitate uniqueness.
While what they did on their television show — which was still in heavy reruns when I began doing comedy — could technically be called sketch comedy, it was so much more than that.
Monty Python’s Flying Circus was a barely-scripted LSD trip that was being performed by an otherworldly collection of comedically gifted brainiacs who all could just as easily have become Oxford dons or serial killers.
(Aside: I began doing stand-up the year Meaning of Life was released, and the Pythons indirectly encouraged me and my comedy partner. I’ll tell that story in tomorrow’s Morning Briefing.)
Comedy is already reeling from various assaults on free speech. Whenever one of its Mt. Rushmore-level legends passes it feels as if it may all slip away.
RIP, Mr. Jones.
PJ Media Associate Editor Stephen Kruiser is the author of “Don’t Let the Hippies Shower” and “Straight Outta Feelings: Political Zen in the Age of Outrage,” both of which address serious subjects in a humorous way. Monday through Friday he edits PJ Media’s “Morning Briefing.”