Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

by Eric Idle

Paper Book, 2018

Status

Available

Collection

Publication

New York : Crown Archetype, [2018]

Description

"From the ingenious comic performer, founding member of Monty Python, and creator of Spamalot, comes an absurdly funny memoir of unparalleled wit and heartfelt candor"--

User reviews

LibraryThing member BillieBook
I would have enjoyed this much more without all the name-dropping. I mean, I get that celebrities know other celebrities, but they also know and interact with "normal" people and I would have loved to hear more stories about those people, about the mundane bits of life, about who Eric Idle is when he's not Eric Idle. Still, an amusing way to pass the time.… (more)
LibraryThing member DavidWineberg
Eric Idle doesn’t seem to know anyone who isn’t famous. Everywhere he goes or lives, the famous turn up as neighbors or partiers. If The Rolling Stones knock on the door at midnight, it’s just another night wherever the Idles happen to be. Elvis Presley a huge fan who imitates Monty Python characters in bed? Par for the course. Getting married in Lorne Michael’s midtown apartment followed by the reception at Paul Simon’s place, or living in Dan Aykroyd’s Bowery loft – just business as usual. How about having dinner with Billy Connolly and Prince Charles calls and asks if could come over and join them. George Harrison wants to pop in for the Lumberjack song. It is endless. It even seems like everyone he went to school with became a prominent celebrity. They all helped each other achieve stardom. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, indeed.

It reminds me of the Peter Cook-Dudley Moore sketch Bloody Greta Garbo. It’s too absurd to be remotely true, but that’s the life of Eric Idle. He says.

This collection of memoirs is about as positive as anything can be. Idle got break after break, got swept along to bigger and better things and was continually invited to new ventures, where he succeeded to great acclaim his first time out, be it sketch writing, film, opera, records or Broadway. Oh. And everyone adores him.

Idle loves adding adjectives before names. Everyone is amazing or wonderful, excellent or brilliant, fantastic or incomparable. The whole book is gossipy, teenage fandom style.

All the time-worn stories the other Pythons tell are here, uncontradicted. How they pitched their TV series without a script, treatment, plan or even a name. And were instantly given the go-ahead for 13 episodes. At least they had to battle the establishment: “We didn’t know what we were doing, and insisted on doing it.”

The Idles are never idle for long. Everyone is constantly inviting them to vacations in the South Pacific or the Caribbean, lending them houses in the south of France or Mustique or London or New York. David Bowie was kind and generous. So was Mick. And Robin. Most of all, George Harrison. There is not one mention of a fabulous get together at the Idle home.

As you can tell from the title, the main achievement of his was the song, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life that he wrote for Monty Pythons’ Life of Brian. It has become a part of life around the world. It is the number one piece played at funerals in the UK, for example. Sports fans sing it loud when their team is losing. What would Spamalot have been without it? It’s the Greensleeves of the 21st century.

As Idle explains early on, there is an unending shelf of books, documentaries and products keeping the Monty Python myth alive. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life is certainly one of them.

David Wineberg
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LibraryThing member tgraettinger
Enjoyed it a lot, much more than another of Idle's efforts, "The Greedy Bastard Tour". It was refreshing to read his thoughts about so many of his collaborators over the years - and he universally praised them and was very grateful to them.
LibraryThing member ErickaS
I grew up watching Flying Circus, and loved it, even though I was really too young to understand or decipher the accents (“Spam” notwithstanding). I’ve passed my love of Monty Python onto my kids, even visiting Doune castle to buy coconuts and recreate Holy Grail (with my daughter playing Terry Gilliam, I as Graham Chapman), like thousands of other daft tourists.

Your face will ache from smiling while reading this, and it’s chock full of name-dropping, which, TBH, is everyone’s secret shameful reason for reading a celebrity memoir (AmIRightAmIRight – NudgeNudge!) And there are lots of photos, which I appreciated. This book made me laugh out loud while I was sneak-reading at my kid’s Open House at his elementary school. Whoops.

I loved all the anecdotes of Eric hanging out with famous people, and the backstory of how many sketches came to be. I even learned about some projects of his that I was unaware of, having been unfortunately born too late (stupid 1975) and in the wrong country (stupid Yank) to encounter many of them on the BBC. I paused many times while reading to get on YouTube and catch up.

Eric’s kind heart is obvious, as shown through his endearing friendships with George Harrison and Robin Williams, not to mention all the Pythons. He’s had a rich life full of love and good friends. Laughter really does bring people together. I’d love to hang out with him sometime. I’ll even supply the booze.

If you love Python, or saw the title of this book and began to whistle, or just know him as the guy from the Figment ride at DisneyWorld, you can’t go wrong with this one. It’s entertaining, hilarious, and insightful. Highly recommended.
Many thanks to Penguin First to Read for the advance copy in exchange for my review.
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LibraryThing member SandraBrower
When we were children, my big brother, Gene loved humor, all kinds of humor, he would regale us with jokes at the dinner table or whenever he thought it was needed. He loved Mad Magazine feature Alfred E. Newman, anything that made him laugh or lampooned reality, especially Monty Python and the Flying Circus, and then all the Monty Python movies.

I want to say that Monty Python's Life with Brian might have been his favorite. So when I had the opportunity through Penguin's First to Read, to read Eric Idle's 9th book, Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life I jumped at the chance. I knew I was going to be reliving so many funny memories. Little did I know that I would learn more than just that Eric is funny. One of a kind, a real nutty guy.

Mr. Idle's history was fascinating at times, outside of my element at other with all his partying, varying bed partners when he was younger and his seeming lack of morals then he grew out of it and settled down with the love of his life Tania. He didn't let me down with his way of writing that resembled how he and the other Python's wrote their skits and shows -- hilarious and filled with rolling on the ground stomach pain from all the laughing mixed with truth. Mr. Idle has a way of making everything relatable. Would most people understand the hobnobbing that he did with George Harrison, Carrie Fisher, Steve Martin, and Robin Williams partying, jet-setting on vacations, playing music and just goofing off with his friends? I sure didn't relate, however, Mr. Idle made it so I could see that he was just a normal person, hanging out with famous people who were also just normal people with their flaws, their humanity and their incredible opportunities to do the things they love so much.

I love that Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from Monty Python's Life of Brian became his life theme, it sure is a good song to lighten the mood and a great standard to view life with. It definitely uplifts your smile and it's plain funny irony, men being crucified and trying to find the good and bright side while going through it.

I enjoyed reading about John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and their ever returning honorary cast members, Carol Cleveland, and Connie Booth. I enjoyed it so much I had to go back and watch a few episodes of the Flying Circus just to remind myself of the genius and irreverent way that they acted in the episodes. I laughed, I cringed, and then I laughed some more. Thank heavens for Youtube and the ability to watch clips from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, my favorite Python movie. I laughed so hard I cried when the Knights are traipsing through the forest clapping coconuts together and galloping and encounter the black night. One of my favorite scenes commences and I just cry and cry and cry. A laughing cry is good for the soul. I truly believe this.

Now, my kids would only remember Eric as the bad guy in the movie Casper and I would tell them there is so much more this man has done. The book reminded me of how much Eric Idle really has accomplished in his 75 years on earth things I didn't even know about such as The Rutles, the mockumentary about the Beatles. If you haven't seen it you really should. Mick Jagger playing himself is the best. George Harrison and the rest of The Beatles loved it. It's a hoot. I've watched sections on Youtube. Again, thank heavens for Youtube.

I could go on and on about Always Look On The Brightside Of Life, but then I would ruin the book for you and what fun would that be for you? If you are a Python Fan, an Eric Idle Fan, a reader in need of juicy details about celebrities this book is for you. If you are squeamish of the 60's and its whole lifestyle this book isn't for you, sorry, it's downright British dirty.

Thanks to Penquin and First to Read for the opportunity to read this book in leiu of my honest opinion.

I give this book a 4 1/2 for humor, writing style and just the pure love of Eric Idle and the other Pythons.

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LibraryThing member MontzaleeW
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography
by Eric Idle is an Audible book I picked up from the library. I always loved The Monty Python gang and all their crazy movies. Idle takes you back to his childhood, and goes from there. It is so interesting how his tough early life leads to a life filled with good and famous friends. Through this book we also get a closer look at a lot of his close friends and associated too! It is wonderful to get to know these people so closely. Robin Williams, George Harrison, and so many more! He tells about rough times too, his mistakes, heartache,and the best of times. This is a look into the heart of this man and into the lives of many! He narrates it so it is fantastic and truly amazing!… (more)
LibraryThing member icolford
From extremely humble origins in small-town northern England … enduring a childhood marked by misfortune … toughened by years of hard knocks at public school where irreverence, a cheeky attitude and an ability to make people laugh ensured his survival … then on to Cambridge University, where he discovered his love of preforming and a genius for comedy, and where he made contacts that would change the course of his life … The unlikely story that unfolds in Eric Idle’s genial “sortabiography,” Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, is bracingly candid, often self-effacing, reassuringly humane and always entertaining. Many people reading the book will, of course, be on the hunt for naughty gossip about Monty Python’s Flying Circus and inner-circle revelations regarding the creation of the group’s surreal and audacious brand of sketch comedy. Eric Idle doesn’t disappoint but he also doesn’t devote disproportionate space to the five years of the series’ run, though certainly the outlandish success of Python made everything that followed possible. What we discover in these pages is that there is much more to Eric Idle than Monty Python. We discover a man who is truly grateful for the success that, against the odds, has come his way, one who acknowledges that he has often been absurdly lucky, and someone for whom friendship is a sustaining force on a par with food and drink. Idle writes eloquently and with compassion about his many creative partners and all the other people, some of them famous, whose support and encouragement helped steer him through the bleak times. We finish the book with the impression of a supremely gifted, highly intelligent, multi-faceted performer who after fifty years in show business still possesses the resolve to make things happen and the energy to get the job done. Covering everything from WWII to a meeting of the surviving Pythons in 2017, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life is as inspiring as it is enjoyable.… (more)
LibraryThing member nmele
This "sortabiography" by Eric Idle had me laughing out loud, and not at the recycled Monty Python's Flying Circus jokes. Worth a read.
LibraryThing member theWallflower
I'm of two minds about this book. On one side, it's a dull narrative of celebrity encounters. He tries to be humble about hanging out with rock stars like the Rolling Stones, the Star Wars cast, various Beatles, and all the various women and drugs he did and slept with.

On the other, it's Eric Idle, one of the leading Monty Pythons. A progenitor of modern humor. Is it witty? Intelligent? British? Charmingly droll? Most definitely.

I figure, unless you're a Monty Python fan, there isn't a lot you'll get out of this book. But you won't know who Eric Idle is unless you're a Monty Python fan anyway. So the question becomes, will you enjoy it if you are?

And the answer's yes. It's not a quick book, and there isn't much about Monty Python therein. It includes the origins and the aftermath though. And really, you've probably already seen all that Behind the Scenes already, so there's no need to repeat it. There sure is a lot about his relationship with the book's title. One could say it's partly about that famous song as much as its author. Ellie Kemper's biography was a little punchier, but not as much stuff in it.
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LibraryThing member GeoffHabiger
Eric Idle delivers a informative and entertaining look at his own life and his involvement in comedy, music, and film across 70 plus years. If you are a fan of Eric's from his work in Monty Python, or any of his many other works, then you will be delighted as Eric recounts his own story. From his earliest days in a boarding school for orphaned boys, to college and starting out in comedy skits, to his time with Monty Python and the many years afterwards, you are given a detailed and fun look into Eric's life. I liked learning about his work as a comedian, and his time spent with the other Pythons, but I really enjoyed his recounting of his friendships with people such as George Harrison, Robin Williams, and others. Eric may be best know as a member of Monty Python, and his song Bright Side (first sung at the end of Life of Brian) has become an international sensation sung at football (soccer) matches and even at funerals, but learning about Eric's work after Flying Circus and the Python movies really made this book stand out. While still coming back to their seminal work from Flying Circus in reunion tours and special events, Eric shows you how varied and different the rest of his career has been.

I highly recommend Eric's "sortabiography" for anybody who is a fan of Monty Python, or who has a love for comedy and entertainment. You will be entertained, and maybe learn a few things. I listened to the audiobook, which was narrated by Eric, and if you have a chance I recommend you read this book in that format. Having Eric narrate, sing, and do the various voices added a new level of entertainment to his story.
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LibraryThing member grandpahobo
This is a pretty interesting book. Its really a professional memoir with a lot of emphasis on the people he has known and worked with.
LibraryThing member BenKline
I wanted to like this, I really did, and I started off liking it.... but then it... just becomes more of the same and tails off. I'd say my rating would have started at **** then went to *** and ** and wavered between them before I sadly decide on **, maybe **.5 if GoodReads would allow it (like LibraryThing does).

The book is just the 'same'. It ticks off the boxes. Talk about a harsh upbringing. Talk about the beginning of fame. Name drop ad infinitum. Talk about how great the celebrity in question's life is. Discuss the sadness of getting old and watching friends die. Have zero introspection. Zero look at how life is like for Eric Idle. A few bits are dropped about being on/off the wagon, but there is no serious talk about it, and he makes it sound casual, like it was just a choice for a healthier living rather than due to actual addiction.

His chapter at the end about Robin Williams is probably the most touching, but sadly, even that... just feels more like "here's how things were with him, and how amazing he is" but not so much about how that impacted Idle. And then he blanket runs through the death of numerous others as though even death is a way to name-drop.

I started reading this a while back and enjoying it, and thinking about how great the life is, and how awesome it must be to be Eric Idle, then had to return the book to the library. And when I got it back out two months later.... I realized just how tedious the book actually is. There is never any real 'strife' to his life. No ups/downs/ups/downs. Its just up-plateau-up. Nothing more than that.

The fun parts are fun, but they just ring hollow because there is no backbone to it and no real reason other than knowing who he is that they should be fun. You get to read over and over again how glamorous it is being rich. All the while poor Eric makes it sound like he has it the roughest go ever. On top of this, you get to watch how his first marriage breaks down, because he just went around shagging every woman that smiled in his direction with zero regard for his wife and child at home. He does however admit, "maybe I should take some blame for this"... .... ..... maybe.

As much as I love Pythons and all the work and everything they've done, this is just sadly disappointing and makes you actually kind of dislike Eric Idle more because of it than anything else.
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LibraryThing member Glennis.LeBlanc
I listened to the audio book of this and it was really funny. I learned a few things about Monty Python and that Eric Idle had a close friendship with George Harrison. He makes no bones that he wasn’t good to his first wife and was unfaithful. Not everything is about Monty Python in it and the stories he tells about things he has done with famous friends is cute. A great audio book and I think I enjoyed it more that way since he does play a bit of music and there is one audio interruption gag that is good for a chuckle.… (more)
LibraryThing member dmturner
The first half of the book is brisk and interesting, and and a contrast to John Cleese's memoir about the same period; the second half becomes an orgy of name-dropping, and while I loved many of the people he talks about being friends with (Robin Williams, George Harrison, David Bowie, etc.) it began to wear on me.
LibraryThing member stephanie_M
This is a Great read. Its irreverent and at the same time heartfelt. But what do you expect from a ***Sortabiography***. Especially from a comedian...? (I’m dead serious, you haters. What the hell DID you expect...???)

I loved all the anecdotes of Eric hanging out with famous people, whom he became incredibly close friends with quite a few of them. I also loved the backstory of how many sketches came to be. I even learned about some projects of his that I was unaware of, having been (unfortunately) born too late and in the wrong country. (Most of which were probably (at the time) only showed on the BBC, until much, much later on).
Eric’s loving heart is obvious, as shown through his enduring friendships with Mike Nichols, George Harrison, David Bowie and Robin Williams, not to mention all the Pythons. I loved the name dropping, because I had had no idea that comedians hung out with rock band members, and also actors and actresses. Everybody literally knew everyone...! That’s amazing.
~Those of you who expected Idle to bring the ‘dirt’ to this memoir, and make it a tell-all kind of novel are absolutely ridiculous, imo. The man is still very good friends with his fellow coworkers, the Pythons, and loves them dearly! No matter how they had got along in the past. Did you honestly expect him to ruin all his friendships with them, and possibly any further work they *may* do in the future, just for your enjoyment? That’s disgusting, and you should be ashamed. Especially since one of them is dead now, and another one isn’t very long in this world.
I found Idle very well read, intelligent, fair in his assessments, and hilarious, in this novel. I laughed out loud a couple times, and spent many a night snorting, chuckling, or even once giving a loud “HA!” Idle’s warm, loving remembrances of his dear departed friends literally brought me to tears, many times. And I smiled throughout the novel at Idle’s wit. In fact, I’m wishing I had been best friends with him, too.
Yes, I’d consider myself a pretty big fan of the Monty Python tv show and films. My father *accidentally* took me and my two sisters to the Holy Grail movie when it came out, and wanted to leave by the time the knight in all black was getting his arms and legs off. I had to BEG to stay, and for the life of me, I cannot remember if we left or stayed. But knowing dad, we left. He didn’t understand British humor, and never would. But I ADORED it the minute I realized what that particular movie was, and I have ever since. I’ve brought my children up to love Monty Python also, and only one of three adores it as much as I do (bad mom lol).
But no, I don’t feel like I’m prejudiced for them in any way, while reading this novel. I’d have called it out as crap if it was. It’s not.

4 stars, and recommended to anyone and everyone.
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LibraryThing member hhornblower
Eric Idle has always been my least favorite Python. Which isn't to say I had antagonistic feelings towards him; he was extremely funny member of an extremely funny group of guys. It was more the impression I built of him since I first learned of Monty Python in my early teens in the 80s. He was the one Python that never seemed to have moved on, always seemingly trying to milk that gravy train for just a few dollars more. He just always came off as a bit smarmy; which is probably why, the more I think about it, he always seemed to play the smarmy sycophants in the original series. He was just playing to type.
Well, this book does nothing to change my opinion of him; in fact, I harbor a much diminished opinion of him after having forced my way though this self-serving pile of garbage. This really isn't an auto-biography, he really doesn't provide much detail of his formative years. Yes, there is the growing up poor, going to boarding school, getting in to Cambridge and becoming a member of the Footlights, sure, but nine tenths of the book is spent talking about who all the wonderful famous people he has ever encountered are. From all that I've ever read about him George Harrison was a very nice, thoughtful person, but do I really need to know that he gave Eric a jukebox for Christmas? Every Python fan has heard the story about how George financed The Life of Brian because he wanted to see it, but do we, again, need to reminded of that fact 4 different times? How the Rolling Stones, and The Who, and Pink Floyd are just a bunch of wonderful people and they just love comedians and let's all spend time lounging in the Caribbean together. That's all this book is, all the people he's ever met and how they all just love him and he loves them all.
I have never allowed myself to not finish a book (except for Grapes of Wrath assigned to me freshman year in high school). I know that life is too short to spend time on something you're really not enjoying, but I don't want to give up hope that just maybe it gets better. I almost threw the book across the room once I got to the chapter on how he met David Bowie (and what a wonderful person he was).
Then he gets to Spamalot (see above regarding milking the gravy train) and how everybody loved it and all the stars that attended opening night, how Eddie Izzard had to take a night off his European tour to fly in to attend. Then how horrible it was when he didn't win a Tony award for best book of a musical. Oh the horrors!!
Not to beat a dead horse, but I'm worried about how I might react the next time someone mentions "Always look on the bright side of life." Sure, it is a very funny song (many of the songs Eric has written are funny), but it seemed at times that he wouldn't allow himself to complete a paragraph without mentioning the song at least once (the song does take up half a page in the index, so there you go).
Speaking of indexes, if you are at all famous, don't bother reading the book, you can just look yourself up in the index and save yourself the time.
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