Monty Python’s Flying Circus was a comedy show which first aired on BBC TV in 1969. Its surreal and unique approach to humor created a phenomenon that developed into movies, record albums, several books, and stage shows.
In the process, its creators became famous and wealthy. But now, the surviving members of the original cast have been brought back together to perform again, and the reason is money — or, rather, the lack of it.
The existing members of the Monty Python team, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Terry Gilliam, will be reunited on stage next month for the first time in almost 35 years.
They are taking time out from their individual careers in order to raise enough money to pay off a large legal bill following a lawsuit which they lost. The claim was from movie producer Mark Forstater in connection with a royalties dispute over the Monty Python spinoff stage musical “Spamalot.”
Eric Idle admitted that the loss had caused the group a problem, until someone came up with an idea of how to solve it. “We were in a mess,” Idle said, but the suggestion “changed everything round, and everybody got excited.” However, he says this will be the one and only time: “It’s the last shout,” Idle said. “A) We’re extremely old and b) it takes a lot to get this sort of thing together. Everybody has other things they like to do.”
So, what can Monty Python aficionados expect?
Fans will be hoping to see the classic sketches involving Spam, Lumberjacks, a dead parrot, and the cardinals declaring: “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”
Idle told the Associated Press that fans will be able to see the old favorites — but they are also in for surprises. “I’ve got one or two up my sleeve that will absolutely freak people out,” said Idle, who is responsible for organizing the 10 performances at London’s O2 Arena. The 15,000-seat stadium will have a live orchestra, film footage, special effects and the show will feature Terry Gilliam’s surreal animation. The sixth Monty Python member, Graham Chapman, died of cancer in 1989 but his spirit will be present in recorded form. Also taking part will be Carol Cleveland, a regular on the original Monty Python TV show.
It’s true that the five comedians have had their disagreements over the years but, as Idle said, “I think everybody is much mellower, and happy. People are very funny about each other. And sometimes people think we are attacking each other, but it actually is not that. It’s permission to say anything, which is lovely.”