Contrary to what we’d all been thinking for the past 33 years, Monty Python is not dead.
Unlike a certain (ex) parrot, it has not expired, is not pushing up daisies, nor has it run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible.
For the five surviving members of the iconic British comedy troupe— John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, and Michael Palin— today officially announced their reformation at London’s Playhouse Theatre today, sitting at a long table placed on the set of Spamalot, the play “lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail” which is currently being performed there.
The troupe—who boasted that they had a combined age of 357 (they’re all in their 70s) and thus were entitled to a winter heating allowance— will perform at London’s O2 arena on July 1 next year. Tickets will go on sale at 10am British time on Monday.
The Pythons subverted the medium of the press conference with nametags wrongly identifying them as other Pythons (Eric Idle was John Cleese, Gilliam was Palin, etc). The tickets, priced from £27 ($45) to a top price of £95 ($153), are part of The Python’s aim to make the show affordable.
Eric Idle said, “It means we can advertise it as 300 quid cheaper than the Stones.”
The five deflected questions about additional dates but hinted the show could tour to other markets. When asked if they would visit America, Jones replied, “Yes, if you are still open by then.”
On visiting Australia, Cleese said the problem was that there were “planets that are closer than Australia.”
They were introduced by a dwarf, Warwick Davis, who had his own question for director Terry Gilliam, “When are you making Time Bandits 2? I’ve been holding on for that one,” the diminutive actor asked.
His prefaratory remarks were interrupted by Pythons shouting, “Get on with it!’
The press release had stated that the show would feature “classic Python material with modern topical twists.” Idle suggested the show would be essentially classics, saying: “The worst words you can hear at a rock concert are, ‘And now we are going to perform some songs from our new album.’ That’s when you go to the bathroom. We haven’t written any new material for 30 years so we are hoping people will have forgotten and will think it’s new.”
When a journalist asked about the absence of deceased Python Graham Chapman, who died of tonsil and secondary spinal cancer in 1989 at the age of 48, and if any of them feared they may die before the show opened, Palin said, “There will be medical teams available. We will all have our own nurse.”
Cleese said, “My money’s on Jones to go next—I’ve seen your x-rays.”
When asked why they had waited so long to stage their comeback, Eric Idle quipped, “I think the clever thing was we waited until the demand died down.”
In response to a journalist who asked them if they were just “milking” their old material, Idle replied, “The cow died years ago.” Asked what the audience could expect, he replied, “I think you can expect a bit of comedy, some pathos, and a lot of ancient sex. And some cross dressing.”
Asked if he was “too old” to do the Ministry of Silly Walks, Cleese replied—to the palpable sadness of those gathered for the announcement—that he probably was, seeing as he had both an artificial hip and knee. Another journalist begged him to do a sill walk live on stage then and there, but he demurred.
Cleese answered several foreign journalists in a nonsense language, and the Pythons got a gift when a Spanish journalist asked a particularly tough question, with Palin delightedly roaring back at her, “Nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition!”
It was in short, a bravura Python performance, and undoubtedly a positive harbinger for next year’s keenly awaited show.