To say that Python was an influence on my sense of humour would be a gross understatement. It wasn't just the silliness and surrealism that got me, but the way they'd try to break the format of the sketch show, and how they revelled in language. I especially appreciated those sketches that were little more than a list of words - like Cheese Shop - or would twist the dialogue in clever ways.
That made me want to write, to play with the rhythm and construction of language. It taught me that comedy was about more than punchlines; it was more about surprise, and the unexpected.
Somehow, Terry Jones provided voices for the first thing I ever wrote for TV, back in 2001: an animated pilot for Channel 4, entitled Knife & Wife. That in itself was surreal enough, but Knife & Wife were characters I'd created when I was a Monty Python-obsessed teenager. If you'd told 14 year-old me that one day an actual Python would be playing Knife - who at that point was drawn purely for my own amusement - I would've punched you in the tongue.
Alas, it was a feat of casting that I've yet to match in the 15 years since.
Terry's agent initially turned the project down on his behalf, but agreed to pass the script onto him regardless.
We got a message a few days later from Terry telling us he'd "Love to play the chicken". What he saw in the script I don't know: I had overthought everything, and sanded off the anarchic edge which had entertained my schoolmates - or those who'd enjoyed the Knife & Wife strips on Bubblegun.
I may have been profoundly disappointed with the end result, but that had nothing to do with the work of Terry and the rest of the voice cast, or the superb animation, or producer Robert Popper.
Unlike with, say, Biffovision... I didn't trust my writing voice back then. I wasn't confident in what I was trying to do. But the thing I take away from the whole nonsense is what a lovely, gentle, kind and generous man Terry Jones was. He clearly had an affinity with writers, and a strong appreciation of the absurd, but he was just, y'know, really, really nice. No ego whatsoever.
Anyway. Yesterday, I went up in the loft to dig out some stuff for the upcoming Digifest, and stumbled upon a bunch of my original Knife & Wife strips.
I must've been around 16 or 17 when I drew them - clearly, even then I enjoyed making my work look as terrible as possible. Though I wince at some of the casual spousal abuse, I thought I'd share them on here, as they led to the sort of nonsense I used to write on Digi. There's even an early version of "moc-moc-a-moc".
Who knows? Upon seeing these, I might be convinced to bring back Knife & Wife in some form...
GAMES OF MY YEARS