Jon Stewart: My guest tonight has written Spamalot, the stage adaptation of Monty Python's The Holy Grail; and his new book is The Greedy Bastard Diary: a Comic Tour of America. Please welcome back to the program Eric Idle. Eric! Yes, sir! Lovely to see you, my friend!
So nice to see you again.
Eric Idle: Nice to see you too!
JS: Congratulations on, on everything--I can't tell you... we'll, we'll talk about the book, but I am also... Spamalot. Coming to Broadway, Monty Python and the Holy Grail--I don't know what to say. I'm, I'm, I'm excited.
EI: It-it's awful. It's dreadful.
EI: Don't--don't go. You know, if, if, if you like comedy, you know, you'll like this, but, uh, otherwise, don't go.
JS: Oh, okay.
EI: Yeah. You know. It's just full of singing and dancing and people being funny and banging coconuts and killer rabbits, you know, it's, uh--there's killer rabbits.
JS: You brought the killer rabbit?
EI: We brought the killer rabbit, absolutely.
JS: That's one of my favorite parts.
EI: Peoples' heads are bitten off onstage--[Jon laughs]--it's really disgusting. You don't--peoples' legs are chopped off; you know, limbs are hacked away...
JS: Is the, the, the knight, does he lose his limbs?
EI: The knight loses everything. He's like an organ donor onstage. [Jon laughs] He loses both arms and both legs.
JS: I'm, I can't tell you, you know--I don't care for Broadway.
EI: [overtalk] Comedy? Oh, Broadway.
JS: Comedy I like very much.
JS: But, uh, I feel like people should not...
EI: Go to Broadway?
EI: No. They shouldn't. No. Especially Andrew Lloyd Webber's shows.
JS: This is what I'm saying. If everyone is going to die in your play, it's not right.
EI: Well, unless they're killed amusingly.
JS: That is a good point.
EI: Which, in our show, there's a lot of violent, amusing deaths.
JS: This is what I'm looking forward to. I am--for the first time I am going to go.
EI: We need to get to the book here, you know.
JS: Exactly. I'm looking forward to seeing it. Who is in this, now? You're not going to be in it.
EI: I'm not in it, no, 'cause they couldn't afford me anymore.
JS: You're very popular.
EI: No, it's Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce, Hank Azaria, and lots of very funny people whom you've not heard of.
JS: Have--have you met them, or no?
EI: I've met them--I'm slept with them all.
EI: Yeah. Well, that, that seems to be the whole point of doing--being involved in Broadway musicals--is to have, you know, lots of girls wearing spangly tights putting their legs up over their heads. And that's just backstage.
JS: So often in this business I meet performers who don't have their priorities straight, and it's refreshing to see a guy--
EI: Ah, you know.
JS: Who's doing it for the right reasons.
JS: I can appreciate that. Is this a big production? Is this...
EI: It's, it's a very big production. It's about $12 million on the stage.
JS: What was--what was the budget of The Holy Grail when you guys did it?
EI: The budget of The Holy Grail we already spent on the lawyers. [Jon laughs] The budget for The Holy Grail was $400,000--the entire film was made for.
JS: And this is a $12 million dollar show. It must be so much fun--it's like being in a, uh, a candy store, a playground. This must be an amazing experience.
EI: It's lovely, and they're a really funny cast, and there are very nice people, and...
JS: Who directed this--is, uh...
EI: Somebody called Mike Nichols.
EI: Um, we couldn't get anybody else. Uh, we tried to get somebody, you know, with pedigree--
JS: Someone with a name--
EI: A track record or a name. But you know, anyway, apparently, uh--Diane Sawyer recommended him. Yeah.
JS: That's an exciting, uh, uh, reference.
EI: It's a lovely reference.
JS: Uh, when is opening night of that?
EI: March 17th.
JS: Oh, okay.
EI: St. Patrick's Day--we thought we'd have everybody drunk.
JS: Very smart move. Has it been, uh, uh, has it been received yet in previews? Have people seen it?
EI: The opening last night in previews we did a gypsy run, when all gypsies come to the show, apparently--uh, and then, and then we did the opening preview, and they went--I'm sad to say, they went nuts. They wouldn't let us do it in silence; they just laughed and cheered and things like that.
JS: It's wonderful. Well, hopefully you'll, you'll change, you'll do some editing, and you'll see--
EI: I'm gonna cut all the comedy out.
JS: Yeah, I'd appreciate that.
EI: Yeah, yeah.
JS: It is Broadway.
EI: It is Broadway.
JS: The last Broadway play I saw was when the people pretended they were different kinds of railroad cars, and they went over--Starlight Express?
EI: Oh! I, I thought you were talking about Fiddler on the Roof.
JS: [laughs] That's, that's a whole other kind of, uh, train. This book, now, uh, Eric Idle's, uh, uh, Greedy--Uh, 'cause the money you're gonna make from play surely won't be enough to feed your coke and whore lifestyle. [Eric laughs] The, um, the, uh--I'm terrible.
EI: My wife is in the audience, you know.
EI: You know, she is here.
JS: [overtalk] I know, and by the way--
EI: [overtalk] And I've been with her twenty-eight years, so--
JS: [overtalk] I know. And by the way, very nice people, I might add.
EI: Very nice people--and she owes me four seven-year itches.
JS: [laughs] You've been counting?
EI: I've been working it out.
EI: Fours into seven... twenty-eight--yeah, that's it, right.
JS: So it's like that Michael Apted 7 Up series, each time you check back in--
EI: [overtalk] If you're lucky, yeah. [Jon laughs] [Eric sings] Seven up, and not quite so up--
JS: Settle down.
EI: Oh, okay, sorry.
JS: The Greedy Bastard Diary--now, what is this? This is your comic tour of the United States?
EI: Yes. I went across America last year. It's a nice place.
JS: You think?
JS: You like what we've done with it?
EI: I like--no, I don't like what you've done with it. [both laugh] But I'm, I'm glad you stole it back from us. 'Cause we stole it from them, you know--
JS: Yeah, exactly. Somebody had to.
EI: Yeah. But it was 15,000 miles on a bus. Um, you know, I had to go to the bathroom once or twice, but it was fine.
JS: Boston to Los Angeles.
JS: Favorite place along the way?
EI: Uh... Poughkeepsie.
JS: [laughs] So, basically, you just gave up a hundred miles into the trip, is that it? [Eric laughs] Just said "Forget it, I'm not looking at anything else?"
EI: You've, you've never played the Catskills, have you?
JS: Think it's in my DNA, sadly.
EI: Okay, well, there were good places. I mean, the interesting about it is, about America, is there's no boondocks anymore. They all watch your show.
EI: They all watch your show! Everybody watches the late night shows, on Comedy...
JS: I should get paid more money. That's, uh...
EI: Yeah, you should, actually. [Jon laughs]
JS: What are you gonna be up to next? What's, what's the next thing?
EI: I'm going to, uh, I'm going to go into rap music. And... and, uh, [as Jon takes a sip of water] I'm going to call myself "Muff Daddy". [Jon laughs as he struggles not to choke on his water] You want to spit over here?
JS: That's, uh... I look forward to that, and, uh... [laughs] You'll be in the studio, I imagine, soon.
EI: I'll be getting it on soon, yes.
JS: [laughs] Well, we're delighted to see you--I cannot wait to see, uh, Spamalot, and the book is great. It's so nice to see you again.
EI: Thank you.
JS: It's nice to see you. The Greedy Bastard Diary on the bookshelves! Spamalot! Eric Idle.