Monty Python Live (Mostly) – which was broadcast this past Sunday via Cineplex Entertainment’s Front Row Events – was the final show of the final reunion of a series of shows at London’s O2 Arena for the beloved and iconic comedic troupe, and much like any swan song, they might have overstayed their welcome by about thirty minutes or so, but they certainly gave the fans what they wanted one last time.
A big time event at one of the most renowned arenas in the world and the Python’s country of origin, the event was staged like a Broadway musical mixed with stand up routines throughout. The surviving members – or like they said themselves “1 down , 5 to go” – kept the energy high and bombastic. This wasn’t about them reliving the classics or regurgitating old clips. There was a full orchestra, background dancers, singers, and an elaborate set. The energy from the crowd also seemed to feed the core players even when it looked like their own enthusiasm was starting to flag.
The beginning of each act kicked off with huge musical refrains that warmed up the audience quite nicely, and from there they settled into a healthy blend of classic bits and archival sketches to facilitate set changes. The first act flowed really well, but the second act leans more heavily on the musical numbers and peaks early. It’s somewhat bloated, but a nice enough note to end things on.
This feels like somewhat of a recreation of their classic Hollywood Bowl concerts, but rather than focuing on the jokes, it’s understandably more of a very expensive love-in. The guys were having fun, but they were at their best riffing and going away from the script, either tweaking classics in new ways or just flat out forgetting their lines and going into to pure improv.
The live show itself was directed nicely enough by member Eric Idle. It still leans too heavily on the music, but thanks to the spectacle and some well placed and welcome guest stars (I won’t spoil it) it does what it sets out to. It makes you laugh heartily at jokes new and old. It’s not the kind of thing that will end up ranking very highly in their collective canon of work, but in the spirit and joie de vivre that Monty Python stood for so well, the final two words that ended up on screen fit so damn well for these 6 men who reinvented comedy as we know it and owe us as an audience absolutely nothing.
They mean it with love and sincerity, of course. And that’s ultimately all that matters.
In addition to two repeat screenings of Monty Python Live (Mostly) on July 23rd and 31st at select Cineplex locations across the country, they’re also celebrating all things Python with screenings of the Meaning of Life on July 24th, Life of Brian on July 27th and Holy Grail on July 30th so you can keep the Python love going for the rest of the month.