Monday, 21 July 2014

Monty Python Live (Mostly) and Dead

 First Performance
Monty Python Live (Mostly)
20 June 2014

Critics have their purposes, and they’re supposed to do what they do, but sometimes they get a little carried away with what they think someone should have done, rather than concerning themselves with what they did.
- Duke Ellington


Me:  So, that’s us just in from the car park.

Him:  I wish you’d stop calling it a car park.


Him:  It’s the world’s tallest car park.

Me:  Ha!  Yes, it is.  Pretty good turnout I thought.

Him:  Yes.

Me:  And all your Scottish Physics teachers were there.  No Gumbies though. 

Him:  Right, none of my teachers were there, as I pointed out several times and nobody’s going to get the ‘Scottish Physics’ thing.

Me:  Especially seeing as we live in the Arctic.

Him:  Exactly.  And it’s not even funny if you know what it means.

Me:  It’s a little bit funny.

Him:  It’s really not.

Me:  Is this the right room for an argument?

Him:  I’ve told you once.1

Me:  So, the countdown…

Him:  Which one? 

Me:  The one that started after we got there.  Oh, hang on-

Long pause.

Him:  I’ve got no idea what you want me to say.

Me:  Let me just stick this brief Twitter conversation in.

Him:  You never did get more popcorn.

Me:  Nope.  I didn’t want you to start cosplaying as Mr. Creosote.

Him:  I don’t get that either.  Well, I do, but I’m not supposed to.

Me:  No. I’ll explain why in the second performance.

The Him shrugs.

Me:  Do you want to say anything about the countdown?

Him:  No.

Me:  Did you recognise many of the songs?

Him:  No.

Me:  Could you answer the trivia questions?

Him:  Mostly.

Me:  Did you like the brief fan films?

Him:  I only remember one.

Me:  I expect I know which one that was.

Him:  Which one then?

Me:  Ah.  Did you like the behind the scenes films?

Him:  They did seem to make it look as though Eric Idle was the only one still alive.  But that’s because he was directing it.

Me:  I’m not sure he was directing it.  I don’t think it would’ve happened without him.

Him:  He was directing it, it said so in the credits at the end.

Me:  There we are then, that explains why it was all Broadway.  Who are the Rolling Stones?

Him:  They were spherical standing stones.

Me:  I was hoping you’d go for something about ancient monuments.

Him:  Well, you can take it or leave it.

Me:  I snapped a picture of the pre-show screen.

Him:  Even though your phone should’ve been off.


Me:  Were you excited?

Him:  I don’t think I was as excited as you were.  Or the millions of other people, who were exactly like you, surrounding me.

Me:  Hmm.  How many sketches from the first act can you remember?

Him:  Probably around about as many as you can.

Me:  I thought it went by really fast.

Him:  The first act went by significantly faster than the second act did.

Me:  Well, in that case-


Him:  Instead of having us talk in the interval, why don’t you put a link to a YouTube video of elevator music or something?

Me:  Like this?

Him:  Well – when typing it up…  You haven’t technically done it yet, so I don’t know.  I assume so.

Me:  How many times do you think the people serving refreshments got asked for albatross?

Him:  The joke I made about that can’t be typed.  You would have to find…  Ooops.

Me:  Have you just broken that?

Him:  Easily fixed.

Me:  Oi!


Me:  Okay, let’s run through the Pythons individually.

Him:  Okay.

Me:  And, this is just based on tonight.

Him:  Okay.

Me:  Graham Chapman.

Him:  Dead.

Me:  Yeah, he did seem to be resting on his laurels a bit. That bit he did before the TARDIS3 cropped up was promising, but after that he seemed to just repeat all his old performances.  He’s aged better than the rest of them.

Him:  They were quite nice to him there.  As opposed to that one where Terry Gilliam knocked over his urn.

Me:  That was at Aspen.  Huge laugh that got.  

Him:  Well, I’ve personally never seen it, but you’ve told me about it.

Me:  Yeah, there’ll be a link somewhere.  And I’ll go into more detail in the second part.  Terry Jones.

Him:  Old and more clothed than usual.

Me:  Ha!  Yeah.  He comes across as a lovely bloke.  I don’t know.  I thought he seemed a bit more subdued than the rest – like he was holding back.

Him:  He was probably just a bit warm.

Me:  What was it with that heat haze?

Him:  I was referring to the fact that he doesn’t usually wear clothes.

Me:  Well, if the part calls for nudity then Terry Jones is the man.  Okay, Eric Idle.

Him:  Certainly alive.  No doubt about that.

Me:  It felt a lot like he’d bashed it together.  He was having a great time.

The Him nods.

Me:  Eric Idle was really good at piecing the shows together back in the Flying Circus days.  I knew re-reading their Autobiography would help. 

Him:  That’s not why you read it though.

Me:  It kind of was.

Him:  It wasn’t though, was it?

Me:  It was.  John Cleese.

Him:  As shouty as usual.

Me:  I thought he was very good. 

Him:  Well, they all were.

Me:  Oh, yes – very much.  John Cleese looked like he was having fun though.  Carol Cleveland.

Him:  Shouldn’t you list the main ones first?

Me:  Probably.  I thought she was outstanding.  Especially in the Lumberjack Song.

Him:  Indeed.

Me:  Right.  I’ve left these two ‘til the end, because…  Well.  Why do you think?

Him:  Alphabetical?

Me:  Nope.

Him:  Didn’t think so.  Height?

Me:  Ha!  No.

Him:  No idea then.

Me:  I thought that – personally – Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam were brilliant.  Gilliam especially.  

Him:  Why so?

Me:  Hard to say.  Terry Gilliam’s been a bit down on the whole enterprise, so seeing him throw himself – literally at times – into the show was…  Weirdly moving.  Especially that really, really, really, long fart gag.  Brought tears to my eyes.

Him:  I have no idea how to reply to that.

Me:  I liked the corpsing, the mistakes – apart from the audio dropouts in the live feed-

Him:  Yeah, those were annoying.

Me:  The guest appearances were cool.  Stephen Hawking especially.  Also, I wasn’t surprised that the first half was edited when it went out on telly.

Him:  Well, the rating itself was a bit-

Me:  12A?  That was optimistic.  Especially when they were wheeling out props borrowed from Rammstein.

Him:  I’ll just say yes.

Me:  Go on then.

Him:  “Yes.”

Me:  Textbook.

‘Spontaneous’ Encore

Me:  I never thought I’d be part of a singalong in a cinema.

Him:  I hoped you’d never be part of a singalong in a cinema.

Me:  You joined in.

Him:  No, I didn’t.

Me:  Yes you did.4


Me:  And then it was over.  I’m glad we went to the cinema to see it.

Him:  Well, we had the option to go to the O2.

Me:  Couldn’t do it logistically, not really.  At least this way we were part of a…  I don’t know.  Collective experience?  Crowd?  Should they have done it?

Him:  Well, it reminds me very much of another reunion that happened fairly recently.  Unlike that one, I do think they should have done this one.

Me:  Ha!  Yeah.  We’ll take a break there.

Him:  Okay.

Me:  Right, faithful reader, after a short intermission we’ll have something completely-

Him:  Stop that!  It’s silly!6

1.  Me:  No you didn’t.2
2.  Him:  Yes I did.1 
3.  Yeah, yeah. ReTARDIS.  We know. 
4.  Him:  No, I didn’t.5 
5.  Me:  Yes you did.4
6.  “Dinsdale!”

Final Performance
Monty Python Dead 
(1969 – 2014)

Just because you like my stuff, doesn’t mean I owe you anything.
- Bob Dylan

Python have always been there, lurking in the bushes. 

Probably my earliest experience was the warning poster and snatches of upset adults on the news.  They’d killed Jesus or something and it made a lot of people very sad.  After that?  Dunno.  I lived in a post-Python world.  They were part of the fabric.  Like snow or stinging nettles or school or other stuff beginning with ‘s’.

Sometimes stray repeats would appear on my black and white TV when I was supposed to be asleep.  Barking nonsense broadcast from the bushes; secret signals to latch onto and superimpose on the regimented conformity of all that tedious scholastic bollocks.  Dust-choked lessons were brightened immeasurably by looking for the surreal.  It became a game the Outlers played. 

Like climbing under piers at high-tide, the Python were dangerous, forbidden.  Fawlty Towers and Ripping Yarns were approved.  Strange times anyway, what with the Doomsday Clock waiting for the unions to sort out whether it was the responsibility of Scenery or Electric.  The Apocalypse has been delayed due to industrial action.  Meanwhile, here’s some music. 

Familiarity breeds acceptance and that’s a good camouflage for something patient.  F-bombs still necrotise the uninoculated pre-watershed innocents, chewing off their faces and spiking their carbonated sugar syrup with mescaline for good measure.  Bastard Python.  How dare they?  How dare they? 

Twits complain that the animal uses the same attack it always did, springing out of the bushes like it always did.  Shouldn’t it try flying or a pincer movement or grabbing a leg and executing a death roll or something?  Of course, by complaining they just prove a point.  Namely that they’re twits.

You can’t thank a predator for doing what it does and you can’t thank a force of nature for stirring something in you.  Python don’t feel sentiment.  They wait, sleep, strike and occasionally reproduce stunted, slightly crap off-spring, but they don’t feel sentiment.  Python changed the consciousness of humanity slightly, like football, tapeworms or iPhones.  And, like football, tapeworms and iPhones, some people were more affected than others.  That’s how culture works.  Python don’t care if you’re sad, that’s your problem. 

Y’see, Python will always be there, lurking in the juniper bushes.

Now piss off.

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