Today is Michael Palin’s birthday. He was born on May 5th in 1943. That makes him 69 years old.
He was one of the original Monty Python performers, and is credited for writing many of the landmark sketches, including two of my favorites.
The Lumberjack Song …
… and the Parrot sketch.
Michael Palin was interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air in 1990. He said his father was an engineer by trade who became an export manager of a steelworks in Sheffield, though he didn’t necessarily want to do that. “I think he’d actually have been much happier to be a church organist,” Palin said, “but one was sort of pushed into the professions then.”
Palin’s own professional course has taken him through work as a writer on various British TV shows in the late ’60’s before hitting it big with “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” in 1969. Various television and movie triumphs followed, and in the post-Python years, a different kind of success with a series of travel programs.
Now he is head of Britain’s Royal Geographical Society.
This strikes me as a fairly jolly career path, and you have to be glad for a person who has won accolades in a succession of things that are fun, interesting and important. Unlike his father, Michael Palin was able to follow his passions and excel in the fields of comic absurdity and science – two areas that don’t often intersect. He did not become discouraged, allow himself to be re-directed or get “pushed into the professions”.
Unless, of course, his true dream was to be a lumberjack.
When have you taken on a job you didn’t really want to do?