In Monty Python terms, the final performance of John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin together wasn’t something completely different, rather something overly familiar.
The Monty Python Live (Mostly) run of 10 shows at London’s O2 Arena, which concluded Sunday with a live simulcast to theaters worldwide — including Franklin Park 16 and Fallen Timbers 14 in Maumee, with encore showings at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday — was the equivalent of an aging rock band’s greatest-hits farewell tour.
The R-rated production gave fans what they wanted and expected — and yes, that included the Spanish Inquisition — with little more.
In the course of the nearly three-hour stage show, including a half-hour intermission, the Pythons stuck mainly to the classics from their brilliant comedy repertoire: their groundbreaking BBC TV series from 1969 to 1974, several acclaimed feature films, records, and even a few live performances. They also made sure to pay their respects to fellow Pythoner Graham Chapman, who died of cancer in 1989.
There were songs and musical numbers about Spam, being a lumberjack, oral sex, the Chinese, and the sacredness of sperm. There were skits about an argument clinic, inedible candies, a really dead parrot, several nudges and winks, and an inane copyrighted theory on the Brontosaurus. Mixed in with this were clips of Gilliam’s twisted animation and other funny skits from the series — to give the performers time to change and, presumably, to catch their breath — as well as the inclusion of a group of young dancer-singers and a small orchestra to make this more of a Broadway show. Idle, who helped put together Monty Python’s Spamalot, also was in charge of this show.
Some of the classic bits from TV haven’t aged well, while the Pythons themselves, now all in their early 70s, are showing their age, too: gray hair, wrinkles, slower, and heavier. Even more noticeable were those few occasions when Cleese forgot his lines and Jones read his from not-so-cleverly disguised cue cards.
Monty Python Live (Mostly), when it’s invariably released on DVD and Blu-ray, will do little to change the mind of nonbelievers to the importance of the famed troupe or even make new converts. This is a keepsake for fans, a chance to see their heroes one more time.
This run of shows was about them anyway — and making money for the Monty Python members’ retirement.
Monty Python Live (Mostly) was the opportunity for the Python faithful to say goodbye to some-old-and-getting-older friends with the kind of “thanks for the memories” send-off that most performers never get.
That was obvious as the members of Monty Python stood side by side and smiling at the end of the show, holding hands and bowing in unison before a crowd of 15,000 fans standing in reverent applause.
But such a profound and sappy moment is far too silly for Monty Python. Which is why they left fans with their final words in big and white print on the giant video screen above the stage:
“Monty Python: 1969-2014.
Contact Kirk Baird at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6734.