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Now for something completely different... Monty Python returns
Culture & Life

Now for something completely different... Monty Python returns

1 3 min. 22.11.2013 From our online archive
The five surviving members of Britain's cult comedy troupe MontyPython announced Thursday they will re-unite for a one-off show in London on July 1 next year, three decades after they last performed together.
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(AFP) The five surviving members of Britain's cult comedy troupe MontyPython announced Thursday they will re-unite for a one-off show in London on July 1 next year, three decades after they last performed together.

John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin will perform some of their best-known sketches at the 20,000-capacity O2 Arena.

Asked why they were getting together now, Idle joked: "We're all trying to pay for Terry Jones's mortgage."

Cleese said "at first" the gig would be "a one and only" but refused to rule out further performances.

Idle said the Pythons had reformed after refusing to do so for so long because "we just wanted to see if we're still funny".

In a reference to the controversial dance routine by pop starlet Miley Cyrus, Idle joked that the Pythons, all now in their seventies, "will be twerking, absolutely".

Idle joked that the tickets will be priced around £80($130, 96 euros) "it's only £300 pounds cheaper than the (Rolling) Stones", he said.

The news of the comeback has sparked feverish excitement in Britain, where lines from their 1970s television series and hit movies "The Holy Grail" and "Life of Brian" have become part of the national discourse.

Achieving the impossible

Each of the surviving Pythons, the sixth, Graham Chapman, died in 1989, has since had a successful career, and Cleese once famously said that it was "absolutely impossible" to get them all even in the same room.

It may be nostalgia or simply the lure of the potential profit from a reunion that brings them back together.

Idle's musical "Spamalot", a parody of the legend of King Arthur based on the 1975 film "MontyPython and the Holy Grail", won awards at its first showing on Broadway in 2005 and still plays to packed theatres in London.

Cleese is also likely to have an eye on the bottom line -- he named his 2011 one-man show 'The Alimony Tour' because he said he needed the money to pay for his most recent divorce.

Regardless of their intentions, the expectation is enormous for the comeback of a troupe described by one newspaper commentator as "the Beatles of comedy".

'He's not dead, he's resting'

The Pythons met as students and worked separately on several broadcast programmes before joining forces.

Their hit TV series, "MontyPython's Flying Circus", ran from 1969 to 1974 and was a surreal mix of physical comedy and brilliantly absurd sketches.

One of the most famous is Dead Parrot, where Cleese tries to return a Norwegian Blue to a pet shop because it's dead, and Palin, the owner, responds: "He's not dead, he's resting!".

Cleese used lines from the sketch for his eulogy for Chapman, who died from cancer aged just 48.

The troupe also made several films, including "MontyPython's Life of Brian" in 1979, the story of a man, Chapman, who was mistaken for Jesus.

It was attacked as blasphemous by religious groups but was a huge box office success in Britain and the United States, and is hailed as one of the greatest comedy films of all time.

Final film

Their final film, "MontyPython's The Meaning of Life", was released in 1983 and was the last time they all worked together on a full-time project.

In 1998, the five appeared on stage together at the Aspen Comedy Festival in the United States, and in 2006, Idle, Jones, Gilliam and Palin attended the London opening of Spamalot -- Cleese was in Australia.

Cleese, 74, is arguably the best known of the troupe, writing and starring in the TV show "Fawlty Towers" and the movie "A Fish Called Wanda" and playing gadget expert Q in several James Bond movies.

But US-born Gilliam, 72, became a critically acclaimed filmmaker, while Palin, 70, fronted a series of hugely successful travel programmes. Idle, 70, wrote Spamalot, and Jones, 71, became a historian and television presenter.