Add me to the list of those mourning– and lauding– the great Terry Jones (he of nude organist fame), who wanted to be remembered more for his scholarship than his comedic genius. That term, genius, is bandied about far too much these days, but Jones and his co-conspirators really were so far ahead of their time that they cannot be considered anything else. True geniuses, all. Well, except Cleese– he’s just a grumpy old bastard with some talent. And a very odd gait.
So, Jones… perhaps the most famous graduate of St. Edmund Hall, the Oxford University college that I’ve been fortunate to call my very-temporary home during the past few summers. I just found out this week that he was a big fan of Chaucer, and wrote extensively about the Canterbury Tales author. Makes perfect sense, considering the intellectual foundation on which the humor (it was spelled like that on the van!) of Monty Python was built. On the surface, it was all so damned silly, but even the Mr. Creosote bit from The Meaning of Life had an undercurrent of smartness to it.
Greatest example, and the Python scene that had the most dramatic impact on my life: the Constitutional Peasants scene from Holy Grail. Those three short minutes made me want to major in Political Science and study the philosophy of government power. Jones was the guy behind that, and I owe him (and Michael Palin, to be sure) more than you can imagine. It seems that comedy sketches inspire us as much as sermons and lectures.