Monty Python legend Eric Idle has revealed that he’s still working at 80 because of financial reasons, using an extraordinarily candid series of public remarks to criticize streaming services and even his former comedic colleagues.
Idle said the troupe’s beloved works, including the films Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian, and The Meaning of Life, were no longer bringing in much money, nor is his hit broadway musical Spamalot. “I don’t know why people always assume we’re loaded,” Idle wrote in an X post last week. “Python is a disaster. Spamalot made money 20 years ago. I have to work for my living. Not easy at this age.”
The British comedian, who now lives in California, said “copyright ain’t worth jack shit any more” and criticized streaming platforms like Spotify and YouTube in part for his predicament. “We own everything we ever made in Python and I never dreamed that at this age the income streams would tail off so disastrously,” he wrote. “But I guess if you put a Gilliam child in as your manager you should not be so surprised. One Gilliam is bad enough. Two can take out any company.”
The comment referenced his Python co-star Terry Gilliam and his media lawyer daughter, Holly, who started managing the Python brand in 2014, according to The Times. Holly Gilliam also co-produced Monty Python Live (Mostly)—One Down, Five to Go, a 10-date reunion stage show, and the accompanying documentary, Monty Python: The Meaning of Live.
“I’m so proud of my dad for finally finally finally starting to share the truth,” Idle’s daughter, Lily Idle, wrote in her own X post. “He has always stood up to bullies and narcissists and absolutely deserves reassurance and validation for doing so.”
Eric Idle also had some pointed words to share about John Cleese, another Python icon from whom he is now seemingly pleased to be estranged. Replying to a social media user discussing how Python wrote comedy, Idle alleged that Cleese “bullied Jonesy,” referring to Terry Jones. “I always felt ashamed we did nothing.” When someone asked if Cleese was really a bully, Idle answered: “Totally. Still is.”
Idle said he hasn’t seen Cleese now for seven years. When someone said that made them feel sad, Idle responded: “Why[?] It makes me happy.”
It’s not the first time he’s criticized Cleese in public. In 2023, Idle said he has “nothing at all to do” with a stage version of Life of Brian coming to London this year.
“Apparently Cleese has cut the song,” Idle said, referring to the crucifixion comedy classic which closed the film version, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” “Of course.”
Cleese, 84, has also been outspoken about his money troubles in later life—in his case related to expensive divorce costs—and recently starred in his own woke-bashing TV show on the U.K.’s Fox News-esque channel, GB News.
Idle also said he’d sold his house last year but didn’t hold back when sharing his thoughts on the possibility of doing a Netflix documentary looking at the rise and fall of Monty Python to raise cash. “Fuck Netflix and fuck documentaries,” he wrote. His five-bedroom home in the Hollywood Hills was listed for sale for $6.5 million last year, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Since opening up about his money troubles, he told worried fans they shouldn’t start fundraisers to support him. “I’m fine,” he told one. “I’m engaged and writing. It’s the thing I do and like the most. Creating a new show.”
“I still love and am proud of what we did as Python,” Idle said of his work alongside Cleese, Gilliam, Jones, Michael Palin, and Graham Chapman. “It was a very unique group.” He likened the troupe to a sports team that once “played together well” back in the day. “But it was never very supportive of people’s feelings and emotions,” he added. “Not Brothers. Colleagues.”