Eric Idle of ‘What About Dick’ on His Favorite Mistake

Ken McKay / Rex USA

This might be dangerous, and my wife’s a little worried, but getting married for the second time is my favorite mistake. The nice thing about it is that it seems like a mistake, but it isn’t. Most first marriages are a mistake anyway, or there wouldn’t be second ones.

I spent the entire eve of the wedding day with my wife Tania, who was distraught and crying and worried and upset that she was going to get married. It was natural bride’s anxieties. I had to say things like, “Don’t worry, it’s always like this before a marriage.”

I had to be exactly like her mother instead of being out with the bachelor party having a great time in New York. Of all the ironies. A second marriage is scary enough as it is, but to have to sit and reconcile her? It was above and beyond the call of duty, really.

The ceremony was in Lorne Michaels’s apartment. Which is also a mistake, you know. There’ve been no other marriages there since. I think Lorne was rehearsing for one of his own weddings. But it was sweet, it was very tender. It was very nice of Lorne to offer his apartment. I guess I had been doing Saturday Night Live a lot.

In the room there was family, Paul Simon, Carrie Fisher, and a violinist playing Russian music. So there was a slight undercurrent of hysteria. I thought, What the f--k are we doing here? It was both as solemn and funny as these events can be. I had a friend, he was a novelist, who said, “Don’t worry, I have a small red car parked outside.” Oh, that was encouraging.

The English boys came through afterwards. Bowie and Mick Jagger. They both stood by my side and cut the cake and gave little speeches. Good old Brits! In an emergency, you can rely on the Brits.

Then the after-wedding party was a very strange, intriguing experience. There were wall-to-wall enormous celebrities like Jack Nicholson. It was a perfectly pleasant raving party at Paul Simon’s apartment. Some of my friends were absolutely looking at the wallpaper. They were on acid, having a much better time than I was, probably. It was 1981 for God’s sake. Everybody was on something. I’m sure it was a good time for them.

At the end of our wedding night we both went home and said, “Oh my God, thank God it’s you. Can we go on with life?”

Obviously getting married a second time is a bit heavy. You’ve been through it once and you know it isn’t forever. Why did it work this time? I think you learn to work at things. I met my wife after hosting Saturday Night Live in 1977, and was bowled over. I told her I would never leave her side. She thought I was bulls--tting, but so far it’s been true. She was gorgeous and delightful. And still is.

Interview By Sujay Kumar

Career Arc


Debuts on TV in the sketch-comedy series Monty Python's Flying Circus.


Stars in the classic film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.


Marries current wife, Tania, in a hectic, star-studded ceremony.


Writes Tony Award-winning musical Monty Python's Spamalot.


Releases his latest project, What About Dick?, available online Nov. 13.

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