Tom Petty Said George Harrison Killed Him With His Humor

Tom Petty said George Harrison killed him with his humor. George liked making his friends laugh with his often cynical, dark humor. He liked hanging around with his comedian friends in Monty Python and never took himself too seriously.

Tom Petty and George Harrison at the 1992 Billboard Music Awards.
Tom Petty and George Harrison | Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Tom Petty said George Harrison killed him with his sense of humor

Petty and George became close friends in the 1980s. They happened into the same restaurant, and George asked Petty if he could go home with him. George stayed for days, and the pair talked.

After that initial hang out, Petty and George often played ukulele and joked around until dawn. Petty In 2014, Petty told NPR, “The best thing I can say to people that are curious about that is George was probably everything that you thought he was, and then some more. Very funny man; he could just kill me with his humor.”

Petty didn’t mind what kind of mood George was in; he was always funny. In a special edition of Rolling Stone called “Remembering George,” Petty said, “Let’s be honest. There was Cranky George, and he could be very cynical at times. He would always be the first to nail himself as being too cynical, but he was quite funny when he was really cynical. But he was very funny, like, ‘The Beatles, they weren’t all that they were cracked up to be’ [laughs].”

George loved humor

During a 1987 interview, Creem Magazine pointed out to George, “You’re funny, too­–and that’s funny, ’cause for all those years you were thought of as being so serious…”

George replied, “‘Cause I did them religious songs three or four times.” However, George was funny most of the time.

“The media and the fans called him ‘the quiet one.’ I find that funny,” Dr. John told the New York Times. “If he was quiet it wasn’t when he was with me. Or when I saw him around other musicians. He was anything but quiet. He had a cynical, dry sense of humor. Especially about the record industry.”

George always remembered to laugh whether he was dry, dark, cynical, or anything else.

In Here Comes The Sun: The Spiritual And Musical Journey Of George Harrison, Joshua M. Greene writes that George added laughter to the end of “Within You Without You” as a “way of reminding listeners not to take his pontificating seriously—search for God but don’t lose your sense of humor, he seemed to admonish himself as much as his listeners.”

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Terry Gilliam said the former Beatle was Monty Python’s ‘patron’

George was a huge fan of the comedy troupe Monty Python. Director and Python member Terry Gilliam told The Telegraph in 2009 (per Rolling Stone), “George was always convinced that the spirit of the Beatles went into Python. The year they broke up was the year we came together – 1969. George was our patron.”

In 1979, George mortgaged his home, Friar Park, to fund Monty Python’s 1979 film Life of Brian after EMI backed out due to the movie’s blasphemous subject matter. It cost George three million pounds. “He paid for it because he wanted to see it,” Python member Eric Idle said. “The most anybody’s ever paid for a cinema ticket in history.”

Funding Life of Brian led to George and his business manager, Denis O’Brien, creating their film production company, HandMade Films. They later produced more comedies.

“He would test things by what made him laugh or what was close to his heart,” Idle said in Martin Scorsese’s documentary, George Harrison: Living in the Material World.

Gilliam said George’s love of Monty Python grew tedious. George remembered every line. He would shout something out to his Python friends, but even they didn’t know what he was talking about. Talk about being an uber-fan.

George had a strange sense of humor, but being humorous made him forget that he lived in the material world.