Thank you, Terry Jones

January 31, 2020 at 6:33 pm Leave a comment

One night, in the early 1970s, our family (Mom, Dad, my brother, my sister, and I) had turned in for the night. We were in our rooms, the lights were out, and the house was settling into deep quiet as we closed our eyes.

Then. From the darkness, I heard a dastardly rasp. “Dinsdale?”

As the laughter subsided, someone yelled “Albatross!” and, like deranged Waltons, we continued to bid each other an extended goodnight, with other Monty Python quotes and a lot of giggling.

I thought of that night when I heard the news that comedian Terry Jones had died. I can claim no familiarity with the man; I’m neither family nor friend; I never met him. But I can legitimately sympathize with the tragedy of dementia, and his absence from the world makes me sad.

I have heard people complain about an excess of attention when a celebrity dies. I think they are looking at it wrong. There is no weird Tier of Importance. Fame does not make a loss a greater loss. We mourn the passing of a celebrity because that person was known to so many. The sound of grief is louder because more people are aware that this particular person existed.

The things we share, as a herd of humans moving through the same group of decades, have an impact. Historical moments. Scientific breakthroughs. And, yes, entertainment. I would say especially entertainment because human brains have a far easier time with a Python punchline than with a Pythagorean theorem.

Humor connects us in a way other things don’t. Comedic movies and TV shows can affect our point of view, teach us lessons, and leave a nugget of familiarity for even the most diverse strangers to connect over. (Nothing against those of you who prefer Math, but nothing sparks new camaraderie or long-time loyalty like a laugh shared.)

When someone famous dies, a little piece of our collective past breaks away. It is the sort of landmark at which a bunch of persons of a certain age have to stop for a moment and take the long look back.

It makes me yearn for a time machine.

I remember, so clearly, sitting in my jammies with my brother and sister, laughing really hard over Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a TV program that we had discovered on UHF, which was quite unlike The Brady Bunch.

I’m sure there are a gazillion things you could read that explain why that show was creative and ground-breaking, but that’s not what I’m on about. Suffice to say Monty Python was uniquely, outrageously, intelligently hilarious. (P.S. I am not trying to imply that 11-year-old me understood every reference or even every word. But it was all wonderfully silly.)

Credit the Pythons for putting a significant dent in my sense of humor or blame them for contributing to my weirdness. Either way I wouldn’t change that part of my upbringing for anything.

Thank you, Terry Jones, et al.

 

 

Entry filed under: Humor - Commentary. Tags: , , , , , , .

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