Terribly sad news this morning: according to his agent and family, comedian, screenwriter, poet and Monty Python co-founder Terry Jones has passed away at the age of 77 following a battle with dementia. Jones is survived by his wife, Anna Soderson, and three children - Siri, Sally and Bill.
It's hard to overstate the influence Jones and the rest of the Python family had on the comedy world, in ways both big and small. Just the other night, I was poking around on Netflix, idly looking for something to throw on in the background while screwing around on my phone, and I settled on a random episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus. That show came along before my time, but when I was a kid, our local video store had an entire run of Flying Circus tapes that my parents rented for me over and over again. I hadn't seen any of that stuff in I don't know how many years, but I was stunned to realize how deeply ingrained much of the show's material was in my own DNA: I still had entire sketches memorized, and reacted to certain visual gags - like, say, a sudden cutaway to Terry Jones sitting nude at a piano - with Jacob's Ladder-level flashbacks to my childhood.
It's not just Flying Circus, either. It's Life of Brian. Holy Grail. The Meaning of Life. All those comedy albums. Jones had a hand in a truly potent body of work, one of the greatest comedy legacies of all time, and whenever we lose a Python it's crushing in the same way that losing any legendarily unique talent is crushing. The world is a demonstrably better place with folks like Terry Jones in it, and when we're forced to remove them from the equation of our reality - a reality that really could use all the help it can get in the "keeping things light" department - it hurts like hell. Today we mourn the passing of Terry Jones, but we also celebrate everything that he gave us. He will be terribly missed.
Rest in peace, sir.