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Eric Idle of Monty Python Discusses Beating Cancer and Making a Comeback!

Dramatic irony has always been a favorite of Eric Idle‘s.

The co-creator of Monty Python, however, could never have predicted how profoundly his work would ultimately reflect his life.

“I was composing Death the Musical, a musical. He said to ABC News Breakfast, “Broadway can’t wait for that type of a title, can they?

“I needed a diagnosis, so I went to my doctor. I intended to kill off a character—the playwright—by having him learn that he was about to die.

The same doctor appeared on the screen ten years later, and when he remarked, “Look,” I asked, “What’s that?” It’s pancreatic cancer, he said.

“I chuckled. Mention the birds returning to their roost.

“Here’s someone creating a play about a person who develops pancreatic cancer and then dies from it.”

Although Idle’s doctor informed him of the illness in 2019, the comic just shared it this month.

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Fortunately, thanks to early detection, the beloved performer is now cancer-free.

“Within 10 days, they put me in an operating room, and this very skilled surgeon ripped it out robotically, and now I’m allegedly clear,” he explained.

The subject will very certainly come up in Idle’s upcoming stage play, Say No More — A Conversation with Eric Idle, which will be performed in Sydney for one night only this December.


Idle’s in-conversation performance will be co-hosted by ABC host and comedian Shaun Micallef during Sydney’s Just for Laughs festival at the end of the year.

It’s billed as a comedy show, but Idle insists he’s ready for anything.

“I’ll bring a guitar in case he gets bored,” he offers, “so we can sing songs.”

“No, [Micallef] is a very good guy – and a very amusing guy.”

The Quiet Achiever With a Famous Mate

As George Harrison was to The Beatles, Idle is to Monty Python: the talented silent achiever who fights for creative space and helps to embolden the group.

The comic, an old friend of Harrison’s, makes no attempt to downplay the similarities.

I think we both benefited from being in the groups, and we were a little bit under-represented,” Idle added.

The two were so good friends that John Lennon paid for Idle to participate in one of his most celebrated projects with the comedy greats, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (also known as Life of Brian).

“On the set of [the film] The Life of Brian, I was complaining to him. He remarked, “Imagine obtaining studio space with [John] Lennon and [Paul] McCartney if you can go on-screen with [co-stars John] Cleese and [Michael] Palin “Stupid person declared.

“Say no more, I commanded. It’s very remarkable that he footed the bill for the full production of that picture.”

Cancel Culture and the Legacy of John Cleese

After signing on to anchor a new show on British right-wing channel GB News, Cleese found himself back in the news cycle with his latest commentary on cancellation and censorship.

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Cancer culture, not cancellation culture, is what I’m advocating for, Idle clarified.

“But next year will be 60 years that I’ve known him… He has made me laugh harder and longer than nearly anyone else I know.

“People, as they age, seem to take on new characteristics, in my opinion. It’s a natural part of aging: irritability.

“It’s much more pleasant, in my opinion, to reflect on the times when we were united in doing silly things and making other people laugh. At least, that’s the way I like to keep things in mind.”

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