Last night I watched the final live Monty Python show broadcast from the O2 arena and delighted once again in those famous sketches, performed by the original Pythons, less of course, Graham Chapman.
I recalled one night at university when I sat on a bed with a group of fellow-students, and one got hold of my copy of Monty Python’s Big Red Book. He then read the book aloud to us, word by word, for the next several hours, and we spent most of the night laughing hysterically.
In fact I believe the Python humour translates to the printed page even better than to TV. That event is probably why certain images and phrases remain in my mind, like the address Behind the Hot Water Pipes, Third Washroom Along, Victoria Station; and why I remember the Whizzo Speed chocolate assortment, and Doug and Dinsdale Piranha, (who I have occasionally wished I could put into a novel but realised it would be plagiarism), and also Miss Gloria Pules, who when interviewed about the Piranha Brothers, said they were wont to introduce one to eminent celebrities.
At the 02 Arena, the Dead Parrot Sketch and the Argument sketch were to my mind as good as the originals. The Spanish Inquisition sketch didn’t have, for me, quite the same impact when the comfy chair was threatened. And a bit was missing out of Postal Blackmail.
Nevertheless it was wonderful to see Eric Idle, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam on stage acting the classic sketches.
Monty Python has infused everything each has done subsequently. I have followed and enjoyed their creative work over the years, and loved them because they were Pythons; I’ve watched the films and the TV programmes, read the books, listened to the songs. I queued up outside Waterstone’s in Kensington High Street, London, to buy a copy of Terry Jones’s Fairy Tales and have it signed by the author and illustrator.
In all they have done, the Pythonesque secret language has been there somewhere, that anarchic, surreal element, the parody of a parody of our British society, that we, embedded in that society, all innately recognise and understand, to such an extent that it can be instantly recalled with the words: This is an ex-parrot or Is this the right room for an argument? or Nobody ever expects the Spanish Inquisition.
I was also thrilled to discover that John Cleese, like myself, loves Roget’s Thesaurus; which played a large part in creating the most memorable lines in the Dead Parrot sketch.
Do you too love the Pythons? do share what the Pythons mean to you, by commenting on this post!