In response to Monty Python’s final reunion shows, Mick Jagger called the once new and different comedic troop “a bunch of wrinkly old men.” The response was apparently a planned part of the group’s press conference Monday ahead of their final 10 shows at southeast London’s O2 arena. The last run will feature the five remaining cast members as well as a few guests.
Monty Python came together originally in 1969 and was composed of now legendary comedians, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, and Graham Chapman. Between then and 1983 they produced 45 television shows for BBC and five films. All of the cast members have gone on to success in their own right since the group parted ways in 1983. Chapman has since passed on, but the rest of the group will be performing together for the first time since 1980. The first of the reunion shows have already sold out.
The television series Monty Python’s Flying Circus ran for only four seasons, but became a cult phenomenon during rebroadcasts in the United States. Their fan base has grown large enough to justify broadcasting the penultimate show to locations worldwide on July 20th. With the remaining members of the group now at least 70 years old, they repeatedly reinforced their promise that these will definitely be their final shows. They’ve titled the last performances One Down, Five to Go in honor of their missing colleague, Graham Chapman.
While the “wrinkly old” group does have some new material to contribute to the tour, Monty Python’s final 10 performances will avoid turning the performances into anything too different from the skits they are famous for. They have promised that the performances will contain many of the sketches their fans already cherish. They did indicate that renowned physicist, Stephen Hawking, will be making a cameo appearance, although whether he’ll be taking part in a new scene or filling a role in something already familiar to fans is unknown.
Fans will appreciate scenes such as Dead Parrot, The Spanish Inquisition, and the Lumberjack Song among others. The stage show will surely be as disjointed and incoherent as the original television series. The cost of producing the show is said to be in the neighborhood of $8 million and will include extensive amounts of music and dance. Palin, 71, admitted to being pretty exhausted “even after the first number.”
Eric Idle will be directing the shows and admits that Jagger’s comments about them trying to “make a load of money” are basically true. A Monty Python legal dispute recently concluded, which cost the group a fair amount, and this may be an attempt to recoup some of the losses. Most of the tickets have already been sold, but a few more are scheduled to go on sale Tuesday.
Fans of Monty Python in England, many of whom may have seen Now for Something Completely Different in its original broadcast, will be sure to enjoy the twists and turns of new and old from the wrinkly group of men in their 70s. Michael Palin said performing the final shows in England, “where it started,” is a way for the group to say a public goodbye to their fans.
By David Morris