It’s almost impossible to imagine the world without Monty Python. In 1969, the comedy troupe made up of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin premiered the surreal sketch comedy show Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Their singular brand of madness would spin off into a series of classic films – And Now For Something Completely Different, Monty Python and The Holy Grail (which was later adapted as the successful Broadway show Spamalot), Life of Brian, The Meaning of Life - as well as various albums, stage shows, and the members’ solo careers.
Outside of a 40th anniversary reunion in 2009 which was missing Cleese (as well as Graham Chapman, who passed away in 1989), the Pythons have not had a proper show together since 1980. Now, the BBC reports (and Terry Jones confirmed in The Guardian following an official announcement on November 21st), the remaining members of Monty Python will reunite for at least one show at London’s O2 Arena in July 2014. You can watch the video of the press conference announcing the show (moderated by Life’s Too Short star Warwick Davis) HERE.
When asked why they are reuniting now, Idle’s initial response was: “I think the answer is, we’re just trying to pay for Terry Jones’ mortgage.” Idle elaborated, answering a question directed at John Cleese (because according to the rearranged name cards on the table, Idle was apparently Cleese, because comedy):
“We thought it’d be fun to try and do one, and see if we’re still funny.”
And what can we expect, beyond a mix of old and new material? According to Idle: “Expect a little comedy, some pathos, some music and a tiny bit of ancient sex.” To which Michael Palin added: “Some cross-dressing.”
Evidently the initial plan is to perform just one show at the O2, but Terry Jones writes:
There exists an aura around Monty Python and we are not averse to doing more than one show at the O2 – I can’t put it any stronger than that.
Jones also detailed his relative terror at performing at the venue and described a recent table read of the material:
Last Tuesday we held a read-through of the script. Eric Idle had prepared something consisting mostly of the old standards. Anyway, we read the script out and were encouraged by the reaction. Quite honestly we were surprised they were so funny. The heads of departments were laughing too. So far, so good.
A fourth Monty Python film (supposedly a sequel to Holy Grail) never materialized, reportedly due to a series of disputes between Cleese and Idle over the quality of The Meaning of Life and Cleese’s desire to not be a part of a Python project without the priceless straight-man antics of the late Graham Chapman. Jones touches on this, writing:
Journalists are always wanting to talk about the group dynamic. Doesn’t John hate Eric or doesn’t Eric hate John? I think we’ve all mellowed over time, and deep down I think we really all love each other. Monty Python is like a good marriage: you may have your spats and quarrels but deep down you know you love the other person.
Jones also notes that if the show is successful, there will be pressure on them for repeat performances, especially in the United States. So far, there are hard plans for just this one show, but it seems unthinkable that the performance won’t be filmed for either a live broadcast or subsequent airing, especially with Brazil director Terry Gilliam once again on board.
Given the Pythons’ significant impact on not just comedy but pop culture itself, the fact that they’ve apparently buried the hatchet and appear to comfortably enjoy each other’s presence is heartening.
What do you think, Screen Ranters? Are you eager for an ongoing Monty Python reunion?
Monty Python will reunite in July 2014 at London’s O2 Arena, with tickets going on sale November 25.