Cineplex Entertainment’s Front Row Centre Events presents Monty Python Live (mostly)
–starring John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin
By Barbara Goslawski
I’m a huge fan of Monty Python so call me biased if you want but, I thought that this live stream / film was a laugh riot. I only experienced a couple of jaded critic moments but in the grand scheme of things, they are so minor as to not warrant mentioning.
Monty Python, The Flying Circus/Comedy Troupe, formed in 1969, moved from sketch comedy eventually to feature length movies. Irreverent, outrageous and embracing the fringes, they somehow end up with a show on the BBC in the 1970’s. Completely off-kilter, their fan-base nevertheless grew. Legions of die-hard fans watched this skewed social wit and are still inclined to launch into spontaneous re-enactments. The Dead Parrot sketch, you say? I’m betting that 8 out of 10 of you could recite at least part of it verbatim.
From the sacred to the banal, Python pilloried everything and everyone in its wake with expert comic precision. Shocking at the time it aired on TV or showed in a cinema, the material is fairly familiar now. So why would one go to see their reunion, Monty Python Live (mostly),taped live in front of an audience? Well, because it’s Monty Python and it’s live and that means there will be unexpected fun. With them, that’s just to be expected.
This presentation is a celebration really, and part of the enjoyment comes from the fact that they had as much fun performing as we did engaging. They’ve still got it, except that now the old codgers know exactly how to expertly play with the foibles of performing before an audience. And with each other.
The best part is that the members of Monty Python spend much of the time in this film satirizing their very existence as a troupe staging a reunion. Right there, live on the spot, they maintain a straight face (mostly) in performances that range from subtle teasing about the exact wording of a particular sketch to playing with elements of the medium itself. It’s all hilariously self-conscious in the best Monty Python fashion. There’s a long set change, for example – one of the most boring elements of any performance – that’s covered in classic Python fashion.
In the end, watching the members of Monty Python perform their greatest hits live has that nostalgic visceral charge, but it’s difficult to predict how it will register with the uninitiated. But then again, that’s just a quibble. This is an all-out, bravado laden, loud and proud last hurrah. And I laughed so hard at points I think I peed a little. And so, Monty Python has indeed ceased to be. Long live Monty Python. Oh yeah, and think twice before reading the U.K.’s newspaper, The Daily Mail. Insiders’ joke. Go on, be an insider; it’s in Monty Python Live (mostly)
Cineplex is presenting the reunion show again on July 23rd and 31st at theatres across Canada.
They are also showing the Meaning of Life (July 24), Monty Python’s Life of Brian (July 27) and Monty Python and the Holy Grail (July 30).