It’s hard to know how Graham Chapman would have celebrated his 70th birthday today, were he still alive, or how he would have wanted others to celebrate it in his absence. I’m pretty sure rude and/or crude jokes would have been involved, though. Chapman, who played the lead role in both of the Monty Python troupe’s narrative films — King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Brian in Monty Python’s Life of Brian — lost his battle with cancer in 1989, but it’s a sure thing his brilliantly funny, weird work will live for many years to come.
Were his contributions to the world as a Pythoner all he accomplished in life, that would surely be enough to establish his prominence in the geek world. But he was also a good friend and mentor to geek icon Douglas Adams, helping him to nurture his sense of the absurd, so it’s safe to say the Hitchhiker’s books owe something to Chapman as well.
So raise a glass in toast to Graham Chapman, or bang some coconut halves together, or take five — no, three — seconds to remember your favorites of his many Python moments. To get you in the proper mood, here’s the beginning of the eulogy John Cleese (who was Chapman’s writing partner in their Python years) delivered at Chapman’s funeral:
He has ceased to be, bereft of life, he rests in peace, he has kicked the bucket, hopped the twig, bit the dust, snuffed it, breathed his last, and gone to meet the Great Head of Light Entertainment in the sky, and I guess that we’re all thinking how sad it is that a man of such talent, such capability and kindness, of such intelligence should now be so suddenly spirited away at the age of only forty-eight, before he’d achieved many of the things of which he was capable, and before he’d had enough fun.
Well, I feel that I should say, “Nonsense. Good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard! I hope he fries.”
And the reason I think I should say this is, he would never forgive me if I didn’t, if I threw away this opportunity to shock you all on his behalf. Anything for him but mindless good taste.
And remember: Always look on the bright side of life!