Monty Python's Michael Palin, John Cleese Pay Tribute to Terry Jones - Rolling Stone
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Michael Palin, John Cleese Pay Tribute to Monty Python Mate Terry Jones

“He threw himself into things with such passion and such energy, and he really refused to take on things which didn’t excite him”

Michael Palin, John Cleese Pay Tribute to Monty Python Mate Terry Jones

Michael Palin and John Cleese remembered their Monty Python mate Terry Jones after his death following a lengthy battle with dementia.

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Michael Palin and John Cleese remembered their Monty Python mate Terry Jones after the actor-director’s death following a lengthy battle with dementia. Jones died Tuesday at the age of 77.

Speaking to the BBC Radio Four, Palin reminisced about his time with Jones: “He threw himself into things with such passion and such energy and he really refused to take on things which didn’t excite him and which didn’t feel different from what else was around. … Part of his warmth was his love of all sorts of things and comedies — he knew an awful lot about the silent film comedians. There were so many aspects to Terry, but I would say enthusiasm and passion were the two main words that described him best.”

In Jones’ final years, as he battled dementia, Palin frequently visited the Monty Python co-founder. “It was an awful form of dementia for someone who loved debating and cajoling and arguing and playing different characters, to be reduced to being able to say very few words, as he was over the last two or three years,” Palin told the BBC. “I lived fairly nearby and I used to go see him quite a lot, and though his dementia was shutting him down there were little moments you absolutely treasured — maybe just a glance or a touch on the hand or something like that. Quite recently I went round with a book we’d written together, Dr Fegg’s Encyclopaedia of All World Knowledge. I started reading a few little bits out of it and for the first time for a long time I heard real laughter, that little wispy laughter of Terry’s.”

Palin added, “I thought that was a marvelously encouraging thing to happen, but what was best of all was that Terry was only laughing at the bits he’d written. I thought, that’s defying dementia for you.”

Palin also remembered Jones in a tearful interview with the BBC:

Cleese also spoke of Jones’ “endless energy and enthusiasm” in a separate BBC interview. “I remember he got up one day when we were shooting on the south coast and he got excited about how green the grass was. So there was this hugely lively energy to him that was incredibly attractive,” Cleese said. “He also had a confidence that I rather envied. He’d take things on without any worry he might not do them terribly well. I’d always hold back, but I don’t think Terry was ever assailed by those kind of doubts. He was a remarkable chap and had an enormous number of different talents — he was the most multi-talented [member] of the Pythons.”

Cleese added of Jones, who he last saw in 2016 prior to his bout with dementia: “He was also a very good director. How he shot Life of Brian really was masterful. If I had to give a class in how to shoot comedy, I would show that.”

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