Who Would You Eat Last?
Monday, June 05, 2006
For the last week and a half, I can say that Iâve been âhanginâ with Mr Rhodesâ â the full meaning of that phrase isnât quite worth chasing down, suffice to say that Tom Rhodes is a brilliant comedian and Southern gentleman whose live performance I saw three times and enjoyed each time.
The second time, he introduced a nice new subroutine while talking about Hinduism. He has a great piece about the origins of Ganesh, the elephant-headed boy deity, which he follows with the comment that heâd love to convert to Hinduism. But of course, he canât convert â you need to be born into Hinduism. Or ârebornâ into it.
So the subroutine was the comment about how George Harrisonâs âconversionâ to Hinduism made him akin to Sammy Davis, Jr. My paraphrasing makes it clunky â Rhodes delivered it perfectly, in a concise and clever way which made a whole two of us in the audience, hip to the fact that Sammy Davis, Jnr converted to Judaism, roar with laughter. The following night, Rhodes delivered the line again, at the same point in the Ganesh piece, and again, about two people laughed. âThatâs all right, nobody liked it last night, either,â he said. That got a massive laugh. Even though it was a lie: I had loved it.
As it happened, weâd gone out drinking after the second performance. That is to say, weâd stayed in drinking â since it was a Tuesday night and everything in Sydney closes early on a Tuesday night â imbibing what turned out to be an incredibly yummy Argentinian red wine that might have been called 33 Degrees (sorry, donât know how to make the little circle on my Mac), named for the latitude at which Mendoza, the wine-making region of Argentina, is situated. In passing I mentioned the George Harrison bit, which I liked. I confessed that Harrison was quite possibly my favourite Beatle.
âYeah, Iâd eat him last,â Rhodes said.
There was what felt to me like an awkward silence that followed, but to Tom, was merely a dramatic pause before he launched into his explanation of the strange comment.
âImagine you were on a plane with the Beatles, and you crashed in the Andes and ran out of food, and you had to start eating themâ¦â
Of course. Given that set of circumstances, I guess George is the one Iâd eat last.
âBecause youâd eat Ringo first,â Tom continued, âsince heâs the least necessaryâ.
I canât remember if Rhodes made the observation at the time, or if itâs the standard observation that gets made at this point â âI mean, if you quite the band, and nobody notices for a few daysâ¦â â referring, of course, to Ringoâs walk-out during the recording of the so-called âWhite Albumâ, which led to Paul McCartney thumping the tubs for a couple of songs â ââ¦then the band can get by without you.â
There is, of course an irony: piss pot Ringo, who at one point had to issue injunctions to prevent the release of substandard recording heâd made while muddling through life in an alcoholic haze, would be the one that would last the longest, inadvertantly pickled in his juices. Sure, youâd kill him first so as not to tax the rations of whomever youâd eat second, but you could get away with eating him next-to-last, depending upon who you chose next.
Who youâd eat second was rather contentious. Surprisingly, Tom and I agreed on this point, although for different reasons.
Popular opinion would be Paul McCartney; his post-Beatles output, though prolific, would not be described by most as prodigious. I donât agree, of course; Rupert the Bear ditties, the 1972 âMary Had A Little Lambâ single and some of those painful mid-90s albums (Off The Ground in particular) notwithstanding, the time will come when everyone gives Paul McCartney the respect he deserves. John Lennonâs oeuvre, on the other hand, gets by unscathed because, âImagineâ, âJealous Guyâ, âStand By Meâ, âHappy Christmas (War Is Over)â and â(Just Like) Starting Overâ aside, nobodyâs really heard it. He did so little and made so little. If people did try to listen to John Lennon to any extent, theyâd hate most of his work. Theyâd be wrong, of course, it ought to be loved. But it oughtnât be loved without being heard and understood, and it oughtnât be loved at the price of hating Macca.
âIâd eat John Lennon second because he was a dick!â Tom announced, and I didnât argue. There was no need to go into the finer points.
Macca was the third course on the Beatles menu and George, fourth. Although, when you think about it, there wouldnât be much difference between them from a gustatory point of view, since theyâd both spent the last few decades of their lives as millionaire vegetarians. So weâre talking organic, grain-fed, free-range Beatles. And both of them would have a fine, smokey flavour.
Having determined, logically, in which order to consume the Beatles, it became clear that this game could be applied to any collective, and the most obvious application at this point was to Monty Python.
âIf youâre going to devour the dickheads first,â I offered â the change from âdickâ to more Aussie âdickheadâ made necessary by the fact that the phrase âif youâre going to devour the dicks firstâ sounds like weâre going for specific apendages, which, even given this context, sounds downright sickâ¦ â âit would appear that John Cleese would be the first to go.â
âWhich is a pity,â Tom pointed out, âsince heâs the funniestâ¦â.
âYeah, but Michael Palinâs the nicest; youâd want to keep him around the longestâ¦â I argued.
âSo youâd eat Palin last?â Tom demanded in disbelief.
Six is a lot more difficult to deal with, but if you think it through, you can make a good case for the following:
Graham Chapman, lamented, demented genius that he was, lead actor in all the films, produced the least amount ultimately, even if you only measure up to his time of death in 1989. So heâd be the first to go, even if, like Ringo, his love of the sauce meant that heâd preserve the longest.
I stand by Cleese going next, although itâs hard to mount a strong case as to why it shouldnât be Terry Jones. Then Cleese. Then Eric Idle, who is actually probably the funniest, albeit less successful if you only judge him by what gets to the screen. Apparently he makes a lot of money as a script doctor in Hollywood, making utter crap somewhat more palatable. Remember, he used to write alone. I reckon if he had his version of a Connie Booth, he would have cranked out a cracking good Fawlty Towers. Instead, he had Neil Innes, which isnât a bad thing, since it led to making things like Rutland Weekend Television and The Rutles. Maybe after Eric, it should be Michael Palin and then Terry Gilliam.
At this point, having had plenty of Argentinian wine, there was a lull in conversation; while I was thinking it through I realised a few more ironies:
- if you were in a plane crash in the Andes with either the Beatles or Monty Python, and you ran out of food, despite their internal squabbling, their jealousies and their grudges, chances are theyâd pull together and eat you first;
- this ridiculous conversation really should end by us playing the âLifeboat Sketchâ (or whatever it]s called) from the album Another Monty Python Record. It didnât end that way because neither of us had the recording â released on CD as Another Monty Python CD â with us. But I can at least link to it.