Eric the Half-a-Bee

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"Eric the Half-a-Bee" is a song by the British comedy troupe Monty Python that was composed by Eric Idle with lyrics by John Cleese.[1] It first appeared on the LP Monty Python's Previous Record but is also on Monty Python Sings and The Final Rip Off 2-CD set. The song followed the routine called "Fish Licence" in which Mr Eric Praline, played by Cleese, tried to obtain a pet licence for an halibut and numerous other pets all named Eric, much to the chagrin of the license office worker (Michael Palin). One such pet is half a bee. The song relates the tale of the half-a-bee, having been "bisected accidentally" by his owner one summer's afternoon.

The lyrics raise philosophical questions as to the existence or not of half a bee: "Half a bee, philosophically, must ipso facto half not be. But half the bee has got to be, vis-à-vis its entity - d'you see? But can a bee be said to be or not to be an entire bee when half the bee is not a bee, due to some ancient injury?"

The song ends with Cleese saying he loves his pet half-a-bee "semi-carnally", which Palin mishears as Cyril Connolly, a British writer and literary critic.

It is one of Cleese's personal favourite sketches.[2] On more than one occasion, Cleese has expressed his regret in not having the song follow "Fish License" in the sketch's airing on Monty Python's Flying Circus (Episode 23, "Scott of the Antarctic" 1970) as he describes himself as "most unmusical."[3]


  1. ^ Monty Python Sings CD booklet. 1989 Virgin Records
  2. ^ Alan Parker; Mick O'Shea (April 2006). And Now For Something Completely Digital: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Monty Python CDs and DVDs. Disinfo. p. 28. ISBN 978-1-932857-31-3. 
  3. ^ E! profile of John Cleese - "I am the most unmusical man in Europe."