“I have nothing at all to do with this production or adaptation,” Idle tweeted on Friday. “Apparently Cleese has cut the song. Of course.”
I have nothing at all to do with this production or adaptation,. Apparently Cleese has cut the song. Of course. https://t.co/OS1X9b5w2k
— Eric Idle (@EricIdle) May 19, 2023
“The song” in question is “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” the cheery anthem, written by Idle, that closes the film as Brian and his disciples are hanging on crucifixes. Idle was reacting to a new report about the production that confirmed the crucifixion scene has been cut, but contradicted Idle by suggesting the iconic song will remain.
The report also names Idle as a co-creator of the stage show, despite his insistence otherwise on social media. Idle previously wrote the Tony Award-winning musical Spamalot! based on the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
“I think Life of Brian is our best film. We are going to do it in London in the second half of next year and I’ve changed certain things,” John Cleese recently told the Daily Mail. Among those changes is the removal of a scene about a male character being told he’s not allowed to change his name to “Loretta” and have babies. Some of Cleese’s collaborators felt it would not go over well 45 years after the film’s release.
“So here you have something there’s never been a complaint about in 40 years, that I’ve heard of, and now all of a sudden we can’t do it because it’ll offend people. What is one supposed to make of that?” Cleese asked. “But I think there were a lot of things that were actually, in some strange way, predictive of what was actually going to happen later.”
Speaking on The Daily Beast’s Last Laugh podcast in 2020, Cleese said he had nothing to “apologize” for when it came to the original film’s crucifixion scene. “Do we believe Christ’s teaching because it is a very, very, very beautiful teaching? Or do we believe Christ’s teaching because he suffered?” he asked at the time. “You put Dick Cheney on a cross, I would eventually feel sorry for him as the weeks passed, but it wouldn’t make me any more likely to agree with his opinion.”
In recent years, Cleese has become a loud voice on the side of free speech absolutism in comedy and firmly against “cancel culture,” occasionally putting him at odds with Idle, who has railed against the rise of “anti-woke” comedians.
“There’s nothing wrong with the audience,” Idle recently said of those who take offense at certain jokes. “If they don’t laugh at your jokes, there’s something wrong with your joke.”
For more, listen to John Cleese on The Last Laugh podcast.