Monty Python celebrate ‘Life of Brian,’ honor ailing Jones

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Terry Jones is shown in this April 24, 2015 file photo. (AP Photo/Andy Kropa/Invision)
Terry Jones is shown in this April 24, 2015 file photo. (AP Photo/Andy Kropa/Invision)

London (AP) — Celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the Monty Python comedy classic “Life of Brian” are being somewhat overshadowed this month by the health news of member Terry Jones.

Jones is “very robust” although “on the downhill slope” due to dementia, according to his friend and colleague Michael Palin. Jones was diagnosed in 2015 with a form of dementia that impairs the ability to speak.

“I go and see him and the great satisfaction is just to get a reaction; sadly, he doesn’t speak much. But I read him some stuff that we’d written together a long, long time ago and Terry actually started to laugh at it, and he laughed only at the bits that he’d written,” Palin recalled in a recent interview.

“Life of Brian,” which Jones directed, is among the group’s revered 45 TV comedy episodes, five films and a blockbuster Broadway musical. When the film came out four decades ago, it was a huge hit, but also stirred controversy because of its plotline: It was about a man named Brian Cohen who was born in the stables next to Jesus and mistaken for the Messiah. Palin played Pontius Pilate with a speech impediment.

Palin recalls the film was actually banned from a town called Aberystwyth in Wales until 2008.

“Then Aberystwyth elected a new mayor, and the mayor they elected was Sue Jones-Davies, who played Brian’s girlfriend, romping around in the nude. She was mayor of Aberystwyth and the first thing she said was, ‘We’re going to release this film in Aberystwyth,'” he recalled. “It was only shown for one night.”