Eric Idle

The Monty Python stal­wart and au­thor of a new mem­oir, Al­ways Look on the Bright Side of Life, on wear­ing dresses, the virtues of be­ing alone, and what he learned from Ge­orge Har­ri­son.

Men's Journal - - CONTENTS -

The Monty Python stal­wart on wear­ing dresses and Ge­orge Har­ri­son’s wis­dom.

What’s the best ad­vice you’ve ever re­ceived? I re­ceived it from my first agent, and it was very sim­ple: Be avail­able.

What mo­ti­vated you as a kid?

To grow up and stop be­ing a kid. I went to a very re­stric­tive mil­i­tary board­ing school, so what mo­ti­vated me was how to sneak off and find girls and beer and cig­a­rettes.

How should a man han­dle crit­i­cism?

It de­pends on what you mean by crit­i­cism. I mean, some­times peo­ple say things that are crit­i­cal, but you think, “That’s kind of wise.” A long time ago, I was hav­ing a row with a pub­lisher and he said to me, “I’m not sure you have the char­ac­ter for suc­cess.” I thought, “That’s a very in­ter­est­ing ques­tion.”

What should ev­ery man know about money? I think money is rather bad for peo­ple. Enough of it is of course es­sen­tial, but too much money seems to ruin char­ac­ter. And it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter, be­cause you’re go­ing to lose it all any­way.

What was the high­light of your ca­reer?

The most sat­is­fy­ing thing for me was clos­ing night of the [2012] Olympic Games in Lon­don. I sang “Al­ways Look on the Bright Side of Life” for the city I lived in for 35 years and a cou­ple of bil­lion peo­ple. It was scary and amaz­ing.

What ad­ven­ture most changed your life? Most of my trav­els around the world have been on film sets, where you’re in a priv­i­leged po­si­tion and you see the coun­try with­out see­ing any of the hard­ship. Quite of­ten, you’re dressed as a lady, so that be­comes rather prob­lem­atic.

What is the best sur­vival tip you know?

At school, I learned to shoot a .303 rif le and strip a hand­gun and re­assem­ble it blind­folded. They would set us off in Wales with a pack and a map and a com­pass and a bit of cheese and say, “See you.” These were called Ju­nior Lead­er­ship cour­ses, and what I dis­cov­ered was that I never wanted to do any­thing like that ever again in my life. Not be­ing in the army is a good sur­vival tip.

What is the se­cret to a happy re­la­tion­ship? You have to learn how to live alone if you’re go­ing to live with some­one else. Be­ing alone is very good for you.

How should a man han­dle get­ting older? With care, I think. And prefer­ably with a woman, or a part­ner, to help.

What should ev­ery man un­der­stand about women?

I think it’s im­por­tant to be sym­pa­thetic. A great ad­van­tage for me is that I got to dress up, like, fancy. I know what it’s like to wear high heels, long lashes, fin­ger­nails, and try to walk.

What role should van­ity play in a man’s life? None what­so­ever. Nar­cis­sism and van­ity are two of the most po­tently dis­as­trous things for hu­man be­ings. What ad­vice would you give your younger self?

Be pa­tient. Things will work out.

What’s the best cure for heartache?

I think not fall­ing in love, prob­a­bly.

Who has been the main in­flu­ence in your life? I got a lot of life coach­ing from Ge­orge Har­ri­son. I met him in about 1975 at a screen­ing of The Holy Grail. He said, “Want to come and have a reefer in the pro­jec­tion booth?” That started a kind of wild ride. We just talked and talked, and it was very in­ter­est­ing and rather fab­u­lous.

What did you learn from him?

He was good for shrug­ging off the prism of the per­son­al­ity. We seem to think we ought to have an opin­ion on ev­ery­thing when, in fact, we don’t. You can ob­serve what’s go­ing on with a wry wrin­kle.


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