cover image THE PYTHONS


Michael Palin (et al.), with Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin and featuring Eric Idle, John Cleese and T. Audio Renaissance, $16.95 ( , two CDs, 2 hrs., $16.95 ISBN p) ISBN 978-1-59397-400-8

This production gives listeners a backstage pass to the interviews McCabe conducted with the Pythons prior to collaborating with them on their coffee-table autobiography. Echoing sound quality, overlapping voices and verbal nods from the interviewer highlight the raw nature of the material and give it a documentary feel, but these aspects also make for some indecipherable moments. The first disc tracks the histories of the troupe members (the deceased Graham Chapman's story is told by his partner and by his brother) and disc two describes how they got together and changed the face of comedy. McCabe uses narration sparingly and well, introducing each new theme and always noting who's talking. The interviews themselves lack drama and, surprisingly, humor. Occasional sparks of Python wit brighten up the presentation—such as when the Pythons shout down McCabe's introduction—but these moments are brief and randomly inserted, as are the clips from the group's various sketches. Anyone looking for a good laugh should pass on this audio, but ardent fans will enjoy hearing the Pythons' tale straight from their own mouths. Based on the St. Martin's/Dunne hardcover. (Forecasts, Oct. 20). (Oct.)