First published in the UK’s Doo Dah Diaries and in Northside San Francisco in September 2008
On June 26, 2008, I went to the Egyptian Theatre premiere of “The Seventh Python”, a film biopic about the ubiquitous and yet somehow little-known genius of our times, Neil Innes.
We all know Neil in some respect. Maybe you have a Bonzo Dog Band album at home somewhere. Maybe you have a copy of the film “The Rutles” where he is known as “Ron Nasty”, or better than that, maybe you have the soundtrack to The Rutles!
Maybe you know Neil the fine artist, who recently had a show in England called “Objects Dada”.
Perhaps you have some Monty Python DVD’s where he appears as a song and dance man, playing multiple roles varying from a Monk to Sir Robin’s minstrel.
Neil Innes fans-Lie Down and be Counted!
Neil was the happy host of the show at the Egyptian theatre premiere that night, charming and accessible as ever. I’ve been around Neil a few times, and it’s funny how everyone in the room innately (or Innes-ly) understands that it’s completely uncool to be starstruck around this anti-celebrity.
You have to scream like a schoolgirl on the inside, you see. Neil has consistently made fun of the media and the cult of celebrity in his over 40 year career as an artist, songwriter, musician and actor. The bigger fan you are, the more that you want to appear to get it, get it?
“Oh yes, it’s all so silly Neil, you’re right. Can I have your autograph?”
He spoke for a while, and the films began with “Rutle outtakes”-unseen jems left on the cutting room floor that were simply thrilling and I hope they will appear as DVD extras. This was followed by the feature film. No spoilers here, just go get the DVD the second it comes out and do what’s good for you! Know that this film is full of brilliant interviews and rare footage that is a must for any connoisseur. You will laugh and hear great music.
After the film there was a question and answer session and a lobby intermission where I momentarily got to visit with Neil and the great Ian Whitcomb. My camera pooped out on me at that moment and I blame the devil himself.
Before the second film, Neil showed us one of his never-before seen art films from his college days. Prior to the screening the audience asked him to narrarate, but Neil said “Fuck democracy, it’s a silent film!” The MC asked, “Well, does the film have a title?” Neil playfully shouted “NO!” The film was made in 1964 with Vivian Stanshall. Silent, black and white, arty … and this was followed by the film premiere of the 40th Anniversary Bonzo Dog Band concert.
Just for one day, Hollywood did “The Trouser Press”. Beautiful thing, that.