Monty Python to return in new theatrical project

Remaining Pythons last appeared together in 1998. Photo: AP/Peter Kramer, file

LONDON, November 19, 2013 —The Monty Pythons announced Tuesday that they will reunite for a new live stage show. Python member Terry Jones told the BBC he’s excited the group is reuniting. “We’re getting together and putting on a show—it’s real,” he told the BBC, adding, “I’m quite excited about it. I hope it makes us a lot of money. I hope to be able to pay off my mortgage!”

According to AFP, “the BBC reported that this new collaboration — the first major project since the 1983 film “Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life”—would come in the form of a theatre show.

“Surviving Pythons John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Jones –who are all in their seventies—are set to formally announce the new project at a press conference in London on Thursday,” AFP reports. The upcoming announcement offers decisive proof that, that aside from the late, great Graham Chapman, Monty Python is dead no more.

2009 file photo of, from left, Michael Palin, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle at the IFC and BAFTA premiere of “Monty Python: Almost The Truth (The Lawyers Cut),” in New York. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer, File)

A groundbreaking TV and film comedy team, Monty Python had its first big success with their most famous creation, the “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” television show, which ran on the BBC, and eventually worldwide, from 1969 until 1974, winning international fans with its bizarre sketches.

Ranging from typically droll British humor and satire to madcap comedy sketches and slapstick Plautine routines—a number of which had trouble with American censors when the shows were brought to American TV—the Pythons broke the mold, paving the way for U.S. TV shows like “Saturday Night Live” to follow suit.


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Sketches could be short, long, or end abruptly in no particular logical order. Continuity instead was provided by the program’s surreal signature paper cut-out cartoon sequences created by the British troupe’s generally unseen American member, Terry Gilliam.

The most famous Python, John Cleese, left the group for other pursuits during its final 1974 television season after which the group appeared to disband, seemingly forever.

But that was not to be. Having already made one early foray into film, the Pythons resurrected themselves for what proved to be two hit films, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975) and “Life of Brian,” (1979) a satirical, irreverent, and controversial look at the fictional life of a bumbling, New Testament-era Jew who gets mistaken for the Christ.

The Python’s film era essentially drew to a close with their strange 1983 patchwork quilt of sketch ideas, which were collected into “Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.”


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The individual Pythons went on enjoy a variety of entertainment careers. Most appeared as bit players in various films, although John Cleese in particular, found a Hollywood niche, most notably in the film “A Fish Called Wanda” (1988) and, later, as the quirky device inventor “Q” in several “James Bond” films.

Cleese also made waves with his short, uproariously funny BBC series “Fawlty Towers,” and for many years had a lucrative income from his hilarious although quite educational instructional and inspirational videos and personal appearances.

Terry Gilliam went on to write and direct a short series of notable but eccentric films including “Time Bandits” (1981), “Brazil” (1985), “The Fisher King” (1991), “12 Monkeys” (1995), “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” (1998), and “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” (2009). Partially in reaction to the Vietnam War and its aftermath, he eventually chose to become a British citizen and, in 2006, formally renounced his U.S. citizenship.

The remaining Pythons—Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Michael Palin—never far from the spotlight, have pursued varying interests over the years, ranging from frequent TV and personal appearances to hosting popular travelogue and history programs and reuniting at least twice with Cleese and Gilliam to put together well-received live shows.

The sixth Python, Graham Chapman, who starred as Brian in the eponymous film, died of cancer in 1989. In spite of his lifelong battle with alcoholism, Chapman often played major figures in both the Python TV sketches as well as in their films.

In recent years, the Pythons backed theatrical shows, such as the phenomenally popular “Monty Python’s Spamalot.”

The five surviving members last performed together in 1998, although they all appeared as individuals on camera for a lengthy 2009 retrospective film on their work that boasted a typically Pythonesque title: “Monty Python: Almost The Truth (The Lawyers Cut).”

  —AP contributed to this report

Read more of Terry’s news and reviews at Curtain Up! in the Entertain Us neighborhood of the Washington Times Communities. For Terry’s investing and political insights, visit his Communities columns, The Prudent Man and Morning Market Maven, in Business.

 


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Terry Ponick

Now writing on investing, politics, music, movies and theater for the Washington Times Communities, Terry was formerly the longtime music and culture critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2009) before moving online with Communities in 2010.  

 

 

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