10.16.09

The Yes List – 40 Years of Monty Python

Each week, The Daily Beast scours the cultural landscape to choose three top picks. This week, Monty Python reunites for a 40th anniversary bonanza, The Frieze Art Fair begins in London, and Julia Stiles meets David Mamet on Broadway.

40 Years of Monty Python

The merry pranksters of British comedy troupe Monty Python banded together forty years ago this week, and they are celebrating their anniversary with a full-frontal media assault. The surviving members of Python—Graham Chapman died in 1989—have released a treasure trove of old sketches to YouTube, performed in a live televised reunion show on Thursday night at New York’s Ziegfeld theater, and debut the behind-the-comedy documentary, Almost The Truth (The Lawyer’s Cut) on Sunday night on IFC. John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Chapman created a style that no group since has been able to replicate, and the IFC documentary features the likes of Jimmy Fallon, Lorne Michaels, Hugh Hefner, and Dan Aykroyd paying tribute to their legacy. With segment titles like, “The Not So Interesting Beginnings,” “And Now, the Sordid Personal Bits,” and “Finally! The Last Episode (Ever) (For Now….),” it’s clear that Almost the Truth takes itself about as seriously as Monty Python ever did, which is to say, very much so and not at all. View our video gallery of the funniest Python sketches here.

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London’s Big Frieze

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Ian West / AP Photo

The Frieze Art Fair, London’s largest celebration of contemporary work, opened on Thursday in Regents Park. Though London is experiencing the downturn as much as any other city, British art dealers are hopeful that the bizarre and innovative art that shows at Frieze every year will still sell—today, the Guardian proclaims the fair is off to “a fizz-popping start,” and that sales have already started happening. The Telegraph notes that one of the themes at this year’s fair is artist’s digging back into history for inspiration: “Grayson Perry, known for his ceramic vases and cross-dressing, has revisited to the old art of tapestry but given it a modern twist, while Parisian multi-disciplinary artist Cyprien Gaillard has used 16mm film for his exhibition Cities of Gold and Mirrors.” Read the Daily Beast’s coverage of Frieze and its satellite shows on Art Beast.

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Julia Stiles Meets David Mamet on Broadway

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Craig Schwartz

2009 is shaping up to be a great year for playwright David Mamet—he premieres a new play, Race, on Broadway in December, and already the buzz about it is so crazed that the script has been kept on lockdown. But before Race comes Oleanna, one of Mamet’s classic plays—it opened on Broadway this week starring Bill Pullman and Julia Stiles as a college professor and student dealing with issues of power and sexual harassment. As with any Mamet work, the words come fast and furious. The Daily Beast caught up with Broadway newcomer Julia Stiles the day after opening night. She says, “I’m delighted to be putting it in front of audiences every night. Sometimes the play ends and they are shocked into silence, and it takes the audience a second to recover and start applauding. Sometimes they are very vocal, and you hear this visceral, knee-jerk response.” She says also that Mamet has been involved with the production, attending opening night with his wife, actress Rebecca Pidgeon, and gifting the actors with “rare antique books” to celebrate their performances. Stiles believes that the play is still relevant today, even 17 years after it was written: “I think the play has so much more going on than sexual harassment, its largely about miscommunication and revenge. There are people in this world who have been wronged, conflict is very real. It’s really a lot more about how two people cannot see eye to eye.”