Looking Back (and Forward) to the Life & Times of Monty Python

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)


Cineplex Front Row Center Events
Encore Broadcast: July 31

July 20th’s world-wide simulcast of Monty Python Live (Mostly) will no doubt get a video release sooner than later. With the show  recorded and already broadcasted on television in the European Union, pumping out a video product will be easy.

That way, fans can look back at nearly 45 years of this comedy team’s cacophony of the fun and absurd. Technically, the years they were active amounted to 18. The stage show at London’s O2 arena featured the best of this comedy group’s skits from the television show Monty Python’s Flying Circus with more pomp, romp and craziness niched in, and for some folks hoping for a few surprises, the only shame is that no new material was offered.

At least a few of the skits are updated for the times. The Cheese Shop sketch gets an amusing postscript note at the tail end of The Dead Parrot sketch, and that at least shows some fun changes are in store. But for the other skit, either they are given a huge production in the style of Broadway in a way that only Eric Idle can appreciate or they are taken straight out of the tele from long ago.

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Fresh Out of John Cleese

John Cleese rushed through some of his material so that’s why some bits were not as good.

cleese3James Shaw: John Cleese is a living legend but don’t worry, he’ll be dead soon. He assured audiences that.

Ed Sum: And when tickets to his Victoria shows sold out fast, I have to wonder when his Last Time to See Me Before I Die tour will get resurrected.

There’s plenty of good years left for Cleese to create more fabulous work. He is a very colourful comedian. But for whomever that person was who wrote up the marketing for this show, they left one huge plot hole which left some audiences asking questions about later.

There was no Q&A that was supposed to happen after the show. I can’t fault Cleese for wanting to leave early, especially when he’s now in his 70’s, but something was amiss.

JS: He is a legend in this business not only as a great comic actor but also as a great writer. Some of the funniest material was written at least partly by Cleese. Many of my personal favourites include the British TV series At Last the 1948 Show, Doctor at Large, The Two Ronnies, Fawlty Towers and the feature film A Fish Called Wanda. At this stage of his career, John Cleese has enough credits to his name to host a two-hour retrospective of his life. And what a treat it is to sit through. Although at least some of this material you will find similar if you were in the audience of his 2011 Alimony tour, those on this side of the pond will be mostly unfamiliar with it.

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