Today I went to the multiplex and saw the live broadcast of Monty Python’s last performance together. And I am sorry to report that they’re now finally gone for good. I’m a little sadder, and the world is a slightly more serious place.
I grew up on these five maniacs who somehow found each other and formed what was probably the greatest comedy troupe in history. If only the sixth Python were still with us, but at least Chapman left the legacy he did.
The surviving Pythons showed their age today. Only Terry Gilliam looked genuinely buoyant up on that stage. But they were having so much fun together. It was like a high school reunion, except that everyone present liked each other in the past.
Back in its day Monty Python was groundbreaking, edgy, and weirdly idiosyncratic. Dare I say, avant-garde? And so there was something surreal about the way they paraded their greatest hits onstage today in a venue as big and overpowering as a rock concert’s.
It’s also strange how warm, reassuring, and safe their act seemed, despite the darkness and rudeness that has always been an integral part of their appeal. When Cleese and Palin trotted out their Dead Parrot sketch towards the end of the performance, it wasn’t the way it used to be, but it worked like a charm. One of them knowingly sold a dead bird to the other, and yet they were old friends.
Adieu, adieu, adieu. Always look on the bright side.
Say no more.