It was as if the Beatles had finally gotten back together, and all anyone wanted to know was whether they could still keep a tune.
The five surviving members of Britain’s most celebrated comedy troupe, Monty Python, sat on the stage of a London theater Thursday discussing their comeback. And even though the gathered press had lots of questions for them — will there be other shows after the one-off London show they had just announced? — one question lingered unspoken: Are you guys still funny?
They seem to be. In a nod to Graham Chapman, a Python member who died in 1989, a sign over the stage read: “Monty Python Live (mostly). One down, five to go.”
The survivors came on stage and all started talking at the same time about how happy there were to be back.
Once the din had died down, John Cleese was his charismatic, slightly edgy self, although warning that he wouldn’t be performing his funny walk because he has had hip and knee replacements (all over 70, the Pythons have a combined age of 357, as the accompanying press release pointed out). The sole American member, Terry Gilliam, noted that “after you turn 70 you can be absolutely shameless.” Eric Idle, who will direct the stage show — the first they will have performed since 1980 — said that the London gig will feature “comedy, pathos, music and a tiny piece of ancient sex.” The cost of tickets will be “£300 cheaper than the Rolling Stones,” he said, in a dig at the pricey Stones shows last year at London’s O2 Arena, where the Python show will be held on July 1, 2014. Michael Palin pretended he had never heard of the parrot sketch, perhaps the most famous of all Python moments.
Most of it wasn’t scripted and none of it was quite as funny as pretty much any Python clip you can watch on YouTube. But it was charming and likely won’t do anything to dampen the expected huge demand for tickets for the July 1 show.
Tickets will go on sale on Nov. 25 at 10 a.m., London time. For those who can’t make it or can’t get tickets, Idle had words of comfort: “We’ll be filming it and we’ll try to flog it later.”