independent

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Monty Python's last hurrah brings a tear to the eye

Published 26/07/2014 | 12:00

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I GET a little bit choked up sometimes. Yes, hard to believe that from this heartless auld cow, but the eyes do moisten the odd time. And it really was a case of what's rare is wonderful on Sunday night as the live Monty Python show left me with a couple of tears in the corner of the peepers.

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Sky TV channel UK Gold managed to secure the rights to show the Monty Python's last concert on TV on Sunday. I deliberated over the opportunity of sitting down and seeing the Pythons as they are now - septugenarians who are trying to make a few quid for themselves. Or would it have been better to remember them from my childhood where the re-runs of 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' were viewed with kind of reverence in our house?

My Da has a great sense of humour - a really good one. He unashamedly loves classic British comedy and, at the top of a very long list that includes the greats such as 'Steptoe and Son', 'Some Mothers Do Have 'Em', 'The Two Ronnies' and 'Morecambe and Wise', Monty Python heads the field.

The Da is a major fan of the comic genius that is John Cleese, and 'Fawlty Towers' and 'A Fish Called Wanda' are shows that continue to delight him and make him laugh like nothing else can. Monty Python, along with all the films, are the very best there is, according to him, and when he watches them again, he always, always says how radical they were for their time, how cutting-edge they were, how truly genius they all are.

It got to the stage in our house when we were younger that we had watched that many re-runs of the 12 episodes of 'Fawlty Towers' that we knew, and mostly still know, all the words. You can say: 'We have meat here in ze building' or 'She can kill a man at 10 paces with one blow of her tongue' or 'The Halls are here' and everyone one of us will know what you're talking about and will say another phrase and another, and another, and so on until everyone is laughing.

Of course, I couldn't resist looking at what will probably turn out to be one of the cultural highlights of the decade and I have to say I wasn't disappointed.

Everything that I hoped they would cover was done. Everyone was expecting the Spanish Inquisition and they got it, with Michael Palin's cardinal even more fearsome than usual. The famous Spam 'Bloody Viklings' sketch was there, along with The Argument Clinic and a likable if python-free take on the Ministry of Silly Walks. Eric Idol and Michael Palin in sexy female underwear was certainly a show highlight.

My personal favourite is, and will always be, the Dead Parrot Sketch. Coming near the end of the show, it was both brilliantly classic and boldly new, with Cleese and Palin ad-libbing to the side and forgetting their lines in the middle of it making it all the more memorable for that.

All the famous sketches were interspersed with surreal imagery from Terry Gillingham, whose unique take on art and life continues to be as relevant today in an age of 3D cinemas as it ever did.

The finale was predictable, but very moving with 15,000 people singing along to their most iconic song 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life'. After 10 sold-out shows and 45 years, the Pythons can truly say that they have made generations laugh and, like me, cry.

The Argus

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