Eric Idle A Sortabiography

Why did I read Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography? Why should you? The second question may very well be answered by the first.

Why did I read it? Because I like to know where things come from. I like to know the process and the inspiration, whether it is inspired or just happenstance. In both instances, I am just here to know more.

Eric Idle’s “Sortabiography” is wonderful. Perhaps you’ve seen any number of the Monty Python documentaries that exists, or the stage show Idle did with John Cleese. Perhaps you listened to the commentaries of your favorite Python film, or read one of the other Python’s biographies. If you did, you’d get to know a certain side of the story, for sure, but Idle’s book, is all him.

There may be many like it, but this one is his. He’s the Python that took Python to Broadway and then around the world again. Idle has always been the workaholic to me. It’s not something I learned in this book, though. It’s something that I took away when watching a few of those documentaries. So I was curious, well, what the hell was he working on?

Eric Idle is always on. The man runs in circles we can only dream about. He is comedy royalty and he’s been able to call the greats of comedy his friends. But along the way he befriended musicians and a Beatle.

The name dropping in this book is not an act of ego. It’s literally the life he lived. In fact he writes about it directly:

“People seem amazed these days that we all knew each other, but we were all part of the same generation of postwar kids who grew up with the rationing and shortages of the Fifties and conquered the world in every field in the Sixties–writing, art, poetry, painting, photography, couture, rock, and in our case comedy. It was an amazing Renaissance, as this brave new world was created out of the ashes and bomb sites of a world war that had just slaughtered sixty million.“

Is this book a tell-all? Nope. That’s probably why it’s a “Sortabiography.” This is his life as he wants to share. This is a 75-year-old (at the time of publishing) who has lost friends and, what’s even worse for a performer, comedian, and musician, is he’s seen his friends lose their minds and memories.

Eric Idle wants to share some laughter, some tears, and his life with you, and that’s what this book is. It’s light-hearted, but not inhuman. He discusses loss and pain, but he doesn’t dwell on it, because he is an entertainer and he can move on to the next passage which will probably contain a funny anecdote or line in it.

So why do you read this book? Because you want a laugh, because you want to enjoy a little more from the man who wrote “Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true.” Always Look on the Bright Side of Life is not The Meaning of Life, or The Holy Grail, it’s more than those things.

“You’ll see it’s all a show, keep ‘em laughing as you go, just remember that the last laugh is on you…”


Read the Secret File of technical information and quotes from Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography.