Eric Idle Bio
2013 Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipient
Eric Idle earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Pembroke College at Cambridge University in 1965. As a student, he served as president of the Footlights, a comedy club founded in 1883, the rules of which he changed to admit women members.
After college, Idle wrote and appeared in many TV shows, including the award-winning Do Not Adjust Your Set, before co-creating Monty Python’s Flying Circus on the BBC in 1969. The group went on to do four TV series, several stage tours and five movies including Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.
Post-Python, Idle created The Rutles, a band parodying The Beatles, and wrote and directed the mockumentary All You Need Is Cash, which aired on NBC.
Idle’s acting career has been impressively varied from comedic films like Nuns on the Run and Casper to the English National Opera production of The Mikado.
In 2009, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
Idle wrote the book and co-wrote the lyrics for the Tony and Grammy Award-winning Broadway musical Spamalot, which has been performed for more than two million people worldwide since 2005. He is also the playwright and author of several fiction and nonfiction titles, including The Greedy Bastard Diary: A Comic Tour of America, and created (with John Du Prez) the comic oratorio Not The Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy), which they performed at The Sydney Opera House, The Hollywood Bowl and the Royal Albert Hall.
His latest musical play What About Dick? stars Eddie Izzard, Russell Brand, Billy Connolly and Tracey Ullman.
Idle is the namesake of a scholarship program linked with Occidental College that sends students to New York to study international relations and gain work experience at the United Nations.
In addition to delivering the Commencement Address, Idle is the proud father of Lily Idle ’13, who graduates today from Whitman College.
His speech is titled There’s No Time Like the Pleasant.