Friday, 25 July 2014


Last Sunday night I went to see Monty Python Live. I went with Rich.  Rich MALC.  My dear School friend, my oldest friend.  Rich, who took me to see '12 Years a Slave' (See previous BLOG: CINEMA) was up for the challenge of accompanying me as my 'Carer'. Duties include getting me to the venue, getting me to my seat and getting the Interval Ice-Cream - so, quite a responsibility.  Technically my CEA card (Cinema Exhibitors Association - which qualifies me for a free ticket for my carer when I purchase a ticket for myself) doesn't state that my carer has to provide Interval Ice-Cream.  But, I like to think of it as a little unwritten law of accompanying me.

I've been to a couple of 'Live' things now.  We (Rich and I) went to see 'The Curious Incident - Live' a few weeks back, which was an innovative, energetic and engaging interpretation of Mark HADDON's excellent novel. Then last Thursday I went with Papa and May and Robin to see 'Skylight - Live' (by David HARE) staring Carey MULLIGAN and Bill NIGHY, who are wonderfully cast, as the intelligent but really actually quite wounded characters who have shared experiences and loves, all of which was quite powerful and moving theatre.

'And now for something completely different ...' 'Monty Python Live' (Mostly) ...

It is fair to say that the Pythons are 'comedy legends' and we are promised that  "At a combined age of just 358, John CLEESE, Terry GILLIAM, Eric IDLE, Terry JONES and Michael PALIN will once again perform some of their greatest hits, with modern, topical, Pythonesque twists."  Monty Python are rightfully regarded as among the world's finest-ever comedians.  In many ways 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' is to television what 'The Goon Show' had been to radio. They influenced a generation and revolutionised comedy. They followed in the footsteps of Oxbridge Footlights comedy greats. The Oxbridge Mafia.  In the Footsteps of Peter COOK and Dudley MOORE and Alan BENNET and Jonathan MILLER and the 1960s review 'Beyond the Fridge' and in the wave of new and extraordinary shows and possibilities that television offered.

John CLEESE and Graham CHAPMAN wrote together having met at Cambridge University. Michael PALIN wrote most of his comedic material with Terry JONES whom he met at Oxford University. All six 'Pythons' wrote or contributed in some way to 'The Frost Report'.

The brilliant inventiveness of Monty Python's Flying Circus was and is perfect.  The show's title itself was deliberately silly, so as not to give away any of the content on the show, and took some work.  Early possible titles included 'A Horse, A Spoon And A Bucket', but eventually the title 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' was found to cause amusement and was agreed upon.  'Monty Python's Flying Circus' was very much born out of 'The Frost Report' and out of 'I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again' and 'That Was The Week That Was' (TW3) and in the desire to break the conventions that those show had established and to escape the established comedy principles of shows such as 'Not Only But Also' and other established and respected comedy shows.  Monty Python pushed back the established boundaries.  It challenged the status quo.  It was different.  It became a cult.

So, "for the first time in more than three decades, comedy legends Monty Python will perform live on stage together".  Broadcast from London's O2 Arena, Monty Python Live (mostly) was shown in cinemas around the globe. Europe. North America. South America. Asia. Australia.  World-Wide.  A World-Wide Phenomenon.  We were in Leicester.  But I have friends in Texas who were also watching the show.  The same show.  Kind of strange to share the experience of 'Live Theatre', but without actually being in the same theatre let alone on the same continent! The wonders of modern technology.

We laughed.  We laughed quite a lot. We laughed at the familiar sketches. Those sketches that had once pushed boundaries and were regarded as daring and risqué, with the almost surreal stream of conscious, and with the Terry GILLIUM animation.  Monty Python pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable in terms of style and content, the silliness, the cross dressing, these aspects were new, were bold and brave.  These aspects are now familiar and loved and firmly established as comedy history. "Nudge. Nudge. Wink. Wink. Say No More, Say No More."

The Parrot Sketch or Dead Parrot Sketch:
"No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage."

The Ministry of Silly Walks:
"Well sir, I have a silly walk and I'd like to obtain a Government grant to help me develop it."

The Spam Sketch/Song: Where the menu of the 'greasy spoon cafe' consists of:
"Egg and bacon; Egg, sausage and bacon; Egg and Spam; Egg, bacon and Spam; Egg, bacon, sausage and Spam; Spam, bacon, sausage and Spam; Spam, egg, Spam, Spam, bacon and Spam; Spam, Spam, Spam, egg and Spam; Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, baked beans, Spam, Spam, Spam and Spam; and Lobster Thermidor aux crevettes with a Mornay sauce, garnished with truffle pâté, brandy and a fried egg on top, and Spam."

The Spanish Inquisition: Cardinals Ximénez, Biggles and Fang
"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and a nice red uniform."

The Lumber Jack song:
"I cut down trees, I eat my lunch,
I go to the lava-try.
On Wednesdays I go shoppin'
And have buttered scones for tea."

The Philosophers Song:
"John Stuart Mill, of his own free will,
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.
Plato, they say, could stick it away;
Half a crate of whiskey every day."

The Penis song:
"Isn't it awfully nice to have a penis
Isn't it frightfully good to have a dong?
It's swell to have a stiffy, it's divine to own a dick
From the tiniest little tadger to the world's biggest prick"

Bright Side Of Life:"If life seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing
When you're feeling in the dumps
Don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing."

There were guest appearances from: Eddie IZZARD, Mike MYERS, Professor Brian COX, and Professor Stephen HAWKING which is indicative of the high regard, fondness and love in which Monty Python is esteemed, and shows how their characters and their silliness have been embraced and adopted within popular culture and how they have enriched our lives.

The show was unashamedly and wonderfully a celebration of all things Pythonesque.

"What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow ?"

"What do you mean? An African or European swallow?"


  1. Sounds like you had a great time Hanya, and I'm very envious!

    1. It was next best thing to actually being at the O2.