Always Look on the Bright Side of Life is probably more for the hard-core Python aficionado than the casual fan, who may be baffled by unexplained references... But there is plenty here that all fans, casual and otherwise, will appreciate ... I would have liked more stories about the creative process behind Idle’s Python work. I would have also liked more about the Rutles, the Beatles parody band he created in the late 1970s with the frequent Python collaborator Neil Innes ... Some of the best moments here are the serious ones...
The writer and comedian best known as a member of the British sketch troupe Monty Python has curated an intimate journey of what it was like to be a writer who suddenly found himself a massively famous actor ... Idle’s relationships with celebrities such as Robin Williams, Mike Nichols and Steve Martin also give readers a nuanced look into talented Americans whose love of what they do enriched Idle’s path to stardom ... Acting played second fiddle to the scripts they [Monty Python members] sweated over. This section could have benefited from deeper dives into how certain sketches came to be, although Idle does reveal the origin story behind the classic 'wink wink nudge nudge say no more' bit ... The stories of how Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life came to be are just as enthralling, the former more so due to the decision by former Beatle George Harrison—a longtime friend of Idle’s—to bankroll the film ... If you’ve ever wondered how Idle created such a cheery tune for a chorus of crucified characters, the reveal will be as entertaining as the lyrics ... You don’t need to know every line to the 'Dead Parrot' sketch...to appreciate Idle’s hilarious memoir. His lessons on the craft go beyond Python sketches and extend into dissecting what makes a joke memorable ... It’s also the kind of book you’ll want to read twice—once when the genius of Python sketches are fresh in your memory, and once when those scenes have faded so you can be reminded how these comedy rebels shook up an art form that was due for a dose of surreal silliness.
There are a few laughs in this book, billed as a 'sortabiography,' but it mostly reads like a casual memoir of someone who still can’t quite believe his good fortune ... Readers looking for firsthand insights into the inner workings of that landmark show will be disappointed. They might even wonder if some of the book’s pages stuck together, since Idle barely touches on how the group of outsized personalities managed to create so much lasting comedy. A lot of the book is consumed with the many famous and fabulous people he hung out with, among them George Harrison and David Bowie. And a lot of pages are devoted to recounting his high-profile performances of Bright Side. It gets repetitious. But Idle can be insightful. His chapter about his relationship with the late comedian Robin Williams is especially poignant. But the chapter highlights how the book is most interesting when Idle writes about what he noticed instead of listing what he did.
In Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography, Monty Python’s Eric Idle opens his heart in a somewhat rushed, one-thing-after-another fashion. But if Monty Python’s Flying Circus is as much a cultural touchstone to you as it is to me, the book will be indispensable ... [Idle's] portraits of his fellow Pythons are both affectionate and pointed.
Even if you’ve watched Monty Python’s 1979 Biblical satire, Life of Brian, a skillion-and-one times and thus know by heart the song for which Python member Eric Idle named his 'sortabiography'...you probably should reacquaint yourself with Idle’s song before starting his book. The first reason is because it’s funny. The second is that the song comes up a lot throughout this affable, leisurely and occasionally enlightening tour of a full and, generally, happy life ... [George] Harrison’s death in 2001 and its immediate aftermath strike some of the saddest and most resonant chords in the book, whose latter section also takes time to mourn some of Idle’s other absent friends, notably Robin Williams, whose own comedic genius is recounted in shrewdly observed short takes ... Idle has no interest in settling scores because he apparently has none to settle. What you see in Always Look… is what you get: A very funny Englishman with a wicked sense of humor, a long and happy marriage and, despite intimations of mortality that crop up now and then, a sunny, agreeable disposition.