As a fully-paid up comedy writing fan, I’m delighted by a Youtube documentary “Life before the Flying Circus” – featuring the background to the Monty Python comedy team.
I’ve watched lots of comedy documentaries in my time, and will seek out ones on Monty Python – but this programme seems to have the edge over so many I have already seen. It not only has the boys themselves, but also brief but insightful contributions from the bigwigs in comedy who encouraged them at the start. You get a sense of the industry. The sight of Frank Muir, with the inevitable bow-tie, was delightful.
What comes across is an unglossy version of the beginnings of being an ‘overnight success’. When you hear that Eric and Michael would spend all week writing comedy sketches, to only get 2 minutes of their material on air and earn £14 – which they then had to split between them – you realise things have always been tough at the bottom.
So, comedy writers – watch this and rejoice – there is hope, there can be breaks – and here, what worked was being hardworking, focussed and taking the unglamorous jobs and just grafting away – ironically while saying that at least we don’t have boring desk jobs.
The picture from the documentary which I’ve chosen as the photo for the top of this blog post is grainy and not taken with an eye to the future. But I love it – it’s the start of something special, and it’s “in the room”, as it happens.