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Monty Python Comes to Town

I grew up admiring my buddy, Randy Eno’s work in The National Lampoon when I was in high school and college. Here’s another Randy flashback. See Randy’s editorial cartoon archive here.  –Daryl

One of the really big features I did for The National Lampoon was the spoof on the Monty Python television show. It was about an 8 page spread with lots of funny bits illustrated by me imitating the style of the Python animator Terry Gilliam, the only American in the troupe. To hold the 6 or 8 pages of the spread together, I thought of the idea of a long python snake running along the bottom third of the pages continuing on through the whole feature. In keeping with the idea of imitating Gilliam’s style, I decided to do the snake with an airbrush. The only problem was that I had never used an airbrush before and didn’t have one. So, I borrowed the tool from an illustrator friend who loaned me an old one she had. As I proceeded through the long rendition of the python, the faulty, old airbrush would occasionally spit and sputter creating little blobs in my otherwise nice clean “Gilliam-like” smooth airbrush style. So, everywhere a little blob or spot appeared I’d paint in a bush or shrub to cover the mistake. Needless to say, there were a lot of little bushes and shrubs in my picture.

The rest of the pages were decorated with merciless crtiques of Gilliam’s cut-and -paste, crude, rough style. I portrayed the Queen employing Scotch taped photos of her along with fatuous British-types in an exaggerated, blotchy, messy parody of his hurried, short-hand animation style. I remember putting in the line “when in doubt, draw the queen”.

It came to pass, a short time after this parody was published that Mike Gross, the art director, left the Lampoon to start his own graphic design studio. One of the projects he tackled was a book on the Python folks. When that project was over, the Pythons had come to New York and were doing a stage show at Town Hall. Gilliam, who was always absent from the TV version of the show because he had all he could do with creating the visual parodies that peppered the show, was for the first time performing along with his colleagues in the sketches that TV viewers were familiar with.

Mike decided to have a party to celebrate the completion of the book plus their show in New York. The party was held in a loft; hotdogs, were supplied by a Sabrett wagon, complete with umbrella, parked in a corner of the loft. Besides the Python people, the guests included Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Peter Boyle and others.

I had terrors of running into Terry Gilliam, who I had made so much fun of in the Lampoon spread that I decided that I would avoid him at all costs. It wasn’t to be, however, because I was standing right in front of the elevator when it decided to disgorge, along with others, Harvey Kurtzman with Gilliam in tow. I tried to hide but Kurtzman, who knew me (I don’t remember how he knew me) blurted out, “Randy, I want you to meet Terry Gilliam.” I was dead.

Gilliam shook my hand and said, “Hey, man, I love that parody you did on me in the Lampoon!” While my wife discussed acting with Belushi, I discussed cartooning with Gilliam. At one point he asked if I had kids. I told him I had two boys. He then invited my wife and I and the boys to come to see the Python show at the Town Hall. He asked me to see him after the show and he’d take us all back stage to show us all the Python gear.

A million years later when Terry had become the famous director of Fisher King, Time Bandits and my all-time favorite, Brazil, an actor friend of ours was playing one of the doctors in Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys. I asked my friend to say hello to Terry for me the next time he was on the set with him. Later on, I ran into this actor and asked if he had done so. He said, “Randy, I am VERY impressed. I told Terry you said hello and he said that you were his favorite cartoonist!”

Randy Enos

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Read more more of Randy’s cartooning memories:

Riding the Rails

The Pyramid of Success

The Day I Chased the Bus

The Other Ol’ Blue Eyes

8th Grade and Harold von Schmidt

Rembrandt of the Skies

The Funniest Man I’ve Ever Known

Read “I’m Your Bunny, Wanda –Part One”

Read “I’m Your Bunny, Wanda –Part Two”

Famous Artists Visit the Famous Artists School

Randy Remembers Tomi Ungerer

Randy’s Overnight Parade

The Bullpen

Famous Artists Schools

Dik Browne: Hot Golfer

Randy and the National Lampoon

Randy’s Only Great Idea

A Brief Visit to Outer Space

Enos, Love and Westport

Randy Remembers the National Cartoonists Society


Blog Newsletter Syndicate

Randy and the National Lampoon

Here’s another memory from our cartoonist Randy Enos

New Magazine in Town

One day in the 70’s, I was trudging along Madison Avenue, doing my rounds, lugging my big black portfolio, when I bumped into the cartoonist Stan Mack. After I helped him to his feet, he told me about a new magazine that had come to town from Harvard, The National Lampoon.

Stan said, “Get over there and show ’em your stuff, everybody’s working for them!” So, I went down the street to 59th and went up to the offices they shared with Weight Watchers to meet the art director Michael Gross. After looking through my portfolio, he gave me an assignment and for the next 15 years, I worked for the humor magazine (long after the founders Henry Beard and Doug Kenney and even Mike Gross had left).

I became very close friends with Mike and his family until his wife and finally, he, died just a few years ago. I worked with him through his stints at Esquire, Mobil Oil, his own design firm, an avant garde, sophisticated porno site and his Hollywood career, producing films like Ghost Busters.

Shortly after I had joined the Lampoon family, I was asked to contribute a comic strip to their new Funny Pages. My strip Chicken Gutz went on for many years. Occasionally I would throw in additional comic strips like my As The Tears Jerk which was a kind of soap opera strip and Specks-the smallest cartoon characters in the world which was a tiny strip consisting of tiny spots which talked to each other.

The work I did illustration-wise for the magazine was different than my regular lino-cut stuff I did for Time, The New York Times, N.B.C., Playboy, etc. in that I didn’t use my own style. Because of the nature of the material, I was required to assume other styles in parody. So, I did Picasso, Robert Crumb, Heinz Edelman (Yellow Submarine), Rube Goldberg etc..

I worked a lot on features written by Michael O’Donoghue, Sean Kelly, Doug Kenney and others. BUT… along with this, I was sometimes asked to pose in photo shoot parodies. One such shoot occurred on a day on which I had delivered a job to them and was on my out the door. I was getting very sick with the flu or something and I wanted to rush home. Mike Gross stopped me and pleaded with me to do this photo shoot. He said, “I know what a ham you are and you’re perfect for this. So … I did it. It was the poster for The National Lampoon Show which Ivan Reitman was producing. It starred Belushi and Radner and others (before Saturday Night Live).

The poster (below) consisted of a large title at the top and then four panels showing a back view of me in a trench coat trying to get a pretty model to laugh.

Panel one: I’m giving myself a hotfoot.

Panel two: I’m tipping my top hat. There’s a rubber chicken draped across my noggin.

Panel three: I’m slamming an ice cream cone into my head (remember, I’m getting very sick at this point). We went through a huge box of ice cream cones (Hagen Dazs, no less) for take after take after take. All through my futile antics, the model is just bored… UNTIL in …

Panel four: I open my trench coat and she dies laughing. These posters were all over New York. Everywhere I went I saw the poster and the creative work done by grafitti thugs who portrayed graphically what the model was looking at.

At that time, my wife was doing a lot of acting in New York and one day she was stepping off a subway train with one of the actors that was in the play with her at the time. He had never met me. As they stepped off, guess what was right in front of them.

Without missing a beat, my wife said, “Oh, by the way, this is my husband.”

Randy Enos

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