R.I.P., Terry Jones

I was briefly in the hospital this week (nothing major), so I was unable to address this topic in a timely manner. But I’d like to add mine to the chorus of voices mourning the death at age 77 of Terry Jones, who was one-sixth of a comedy conglomerate known as Monty Python.

Jones was an Oxford alumnus and a well-respected medieval historian, though you’d never know it from the over-the-top work he did on behalf of Python (although it was Jones’ knowledge of medieval times that served as an impetus for Monty Python and the Holy Grail). Although he (like the other Pythons) played a variety of roles, Jones’ most memorable characterizations were mostly milquetoasts who were clueless about the situations they were dragged into — the straight man in the immortal “Nudge, nudge” sketch with Eric Idle, the beach visitor who keeps getting caught undressing and cheerily resigns himself to doing a stripping routine.

In addition to Python, Jones’ oeuvre includes a TV show (“Ripping Yarns” with long-time friend and fellow Python Michael Palin), countless books, plays, and screenplays, and several movie-directing turns. Sadly, the last years of Jones’ life were riddled with dementia that robbed him of his ability to think and communicate — a huge loss for any person, but doubly so for such a prolific scholar and creative being.

Thank you, Mr. Jones, for all the outrageous laughs. Here is probably his most memorable movie routine, from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.

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