Insights from John Cleese & Michael Palin

On the scriptwriting process of the Pythons :

It’s the laughter—we go for the jokes first. I mean the reason that it sounded like an interesting…territory to go into, to explore—because when you go in there, you really don’t know what you’re going to write. 

 We usually sit around for about three days discussing theoretically what we’re going to write—then we go and write something completely different. And the film actually starts when somebody comes in halfway through the second week and reads something out, and we all laugh. And that’s the first point on the graph—do you see what I mean?

Then we may wait another week and then somebody else writes something funny and then we have two points on the graph. And when we’ve got about six or seven—we start writing stuff to join it together. It’s pretty slow process, because it’s sort of democracy gone mad.

•••

On the faulty foundation of Christianity’s gospels:

Largely, it insulted my intelligence—the sermons that were given at the age of eleven and twelve—I felt insulted my intelligence. When I got into writing this film (and we all had exactly the same reaction), we started to discover a lot of stuff about Christianity and I started to get angry. Because I started to think, “why was I given this rubbish? This tenth-rate series of platitudes?”—when there are more interesting things to have discussed—these were factual things:

Nobody ever told me that they don’t know what language the gospels were written in. And they don’t even know who wrote them! They’re not even sure what cities they were written in!

•••

These insights are from this interview and debate, done in 1979 during the release of their film, Life of Brian:

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Part Four:

…twice a week…

“Few people think more than two or three times a year. I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.”

– George Bernard Shaw

We are.

We are the music makers…and we are the dreamers of dreams.”

—Willy Wonka

Wonder

Richard P. Feynman

“I wonder why. I wonder why.
I wonder why I wonder.
I wonder why I wonder why
I wonder why I wonder!”

—Richard P. Feynman
American author and journalist

Do you wonder why?

Power Point

If absolute power
corrupts absolutely,
and god is all-powerful,
then god must be
absolutely corrupt.


*“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

—Lord Acton
British historian

Chuck Palahniuk on his method of writing:


“Instead of writing 50,000 words a day—you know, instead of sitting on the toilet saying I’m going to pass something whether or not I’ve got something to pass….*

My job is so much more of a kind of social field study, to try to find patterns in the ways in which people live their lives, and to take the best examples of those patterns, and quilt them together and make something.

So that’s my method.”

—Chuck Palahniuk
author of Fight Club, et al