Former Python answers some questions about ''Monty Python,'' new media, and his latest project

By Ty Burr
Updated July 26, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

Call him the Minister of Silly Websites. Erstwhile Monty Python member and current L.A. resident Eric Idle, 53, is the designated Python in charge of the officially disbanded comedy troupe’s multimedia projects. We recently spoke with the tawny yet pungent Idle from his base in the Glendale, Calif., offices of the 7th Level multimedia company.

How did you get mixed up with a CD-ROM?

We always have a Python associated with every project. Keeping it Pythonic, really. When [7th Level] first came to us, they had a lot of silly medieval kind of gaggies. Spelling things with an e. So I threw a lot of that out, ’cause I didn’t want a series of bad jokes that weren’t ours.

Why weren’t the other Pythons brought in?

They’re all busy on other things. You can’t go to Terry Gilliam, who’s directing major movies, and say, ”Excuse me, stop this setup with Bruce Willis and come and record.”

What are your duties on ”PythOnline”?

Some of it involves me badgering the others and going into old files. Feciologists, I think we are. Finding little droppings left over.

What’s your attraction to new media?

I love being shown new technology and f—ing about with it. When we got into TV, nobody had mined it for silliness, so we were given the toys and allowed to play. That’s what I find exciting about the Web; we’re just playing with the toys. And there are no executives, which I really find refreshing.

So you’re making it up as you go along?

The rest of the industry is making it up as it goes along. It’s like the video industry was: It’s always pornography driven and then it becomes more interesting. I think it must have been the first stage of entertainment. You know, people just watched people shagging and said, ”Well, all right, we did that three nights running, now let’s have a play.”

What do you think Graham Chapman [the Python member who died in 1989] would think of all this?

Oh, I think he’d be very much in favor. I’ll have to get him online one day. In the Timothy Leary Room, probably.