Print options

July 20, 2014

Monty Python Group Performs (Probably) for Last Time

by Reuters

The Monty Python comedy group performed the final show of their 10-day residency “Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go” at the O2 Arena in London on Sunday in front of a 16,000-strong audience.

The show was broadcast live, which meant fans all over the world got to see Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam, all in their 70s, perform a string of medleys and sketches together for what they have said is probably the last time.   

The Pythons performed with a live orchestra and a chorus line of singing and dancing men and women.

And they were joined by Carol Cleveland, the only woman who made regular appearances in the 1960s show, who was on hand to reprise her popular roles.

Film clips of Chapman

Graham Chapman, the sixth Python, who died in 1989, appeared on film clips, along with some of the original television footage of Python sketches shown on a huge video display.

Many fans came dressed up as some of their favorite characters and felt emotional at the thought that this could be the last time the Pythons are seen onstage together.

“It's like your favorite band breaking up, you know? The thought that they won't perform again is just like...but I'm so, so honored to have been here. I think that everyone is just that we've had the opportunity to come and that they've done this again, it's just. It paid off being a fan, you know?”“ Monty Python fan, Fiona Burt, told Reuters TV dressed as Cardinal Fang from “The Spanish Inquisition” sketches.

And whilst fans had the option to view the show live at home, numerous attendees traveled from the other side of the world to see the historic night.

Rollin Lofdahl flew all the way from Oregon, United States, for the performers.

“I planned to come to London anyway this summer, but a friend of mine, an American that lives in Germany said that if he could get tickets for this would I come and I said absolutely, so we just shifted the dates of my trip and we had both seen Python live at the Hollywood Bowl back in 1980. And you see I'm wearing the official shirt from that event. So, I don't know if we're the only two who saw them 34 years ago and then got to see them again here but how could you turn down that opportunity?” Lofdahl said.

British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, a professed Python fan, made a guest appearance on film while “Austin Powers” star Mike Myers and the popular comedians Dara O'Briain and Lee Mack joined a host of performers who took part in the encore with the Pythons.

Favorites were seen

The Pythons did their famous lumberjack song, with Palin acting as a supposedly manly woodcutter who reveals in song that he enjoys dressing up in women's clothing.

They also did the sketch that has provided a catchphrase for the English language: “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition” with three inquisitors who threaten their prey with the torture of having to sit in “the comfy chair.”

Palin and Cleese performed what is perhaps the most famous Python sketch, the man trying to return a dead Norwegian blue parrot to a shopkeeper who maintains the bird “is only kipping (sleeping).”

The ten-day run has also seen a few new numbers, including “I Like Chinese” sung by Idle backed by singers and dancers, praising the Chinese for buying up America's debt and saying “they will survive us without a doubt”.

The show ended as it inevitably had to, with the five Pythons, dressed in white tuxedos, belting out “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”

And the last message to be flashed up on the video display was “Monty Python 1969-2014”, giving a real sense that this was the end for the group.

Idle strummed a guitar and Cleese, Gilliam, Palin and Jones chimed in as the audience sang along to the lyrics “life is quite absurd and death's the final word” but you should “always look on the bright side of life”.

The curtain call could be the final bow the Pythons ever make together after more than 50 years as a group.

They first garnered fame through “Monty Python's Flying Circus” comedy sketch show, which aired from 1969 to 1974.

Also in films

The popularity of the surreal comedy series led to the Pythons making a number of films, including “Monty Python and The Holy Grail” and “The Meaning of Life”.

They also courted controversy with “Life of Brian”, in which the character Brian Cohen is mistaken for the Messiah.

The enduring appeal of Monty Python could be shown by the fact that tickets for the opening night of “Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go” sold out in 44 seconds.

And last week a giant dead blue parrot was set-up near Tower Bridge in London last week as a homage to the “Dead Parrot” sketch.