If there were any doubt that the members of the Monty Python troupe wouldn’t be holding back in their farewell show, it came with a rousing version of “Every Sperm Is Sacred.”
The performance of the “Meaning of Life” song included a whole range of props, including cannons in the shape of phalluses. And what’s the point of bringing out phallus-shaped cannons if you’re not going to, uh, set them off?
Python has always been equal parts deadpan and silly, highbrow and low, and the “Monty Python Live (Mostly)” show — which concluded Sunday at London’s O2 Arena and was simulcast all over the world — highlighted those distinctions.
In that one, Cleese and Palin seemed to be having a particularly good time, stepping on each other’s lines in high-spirited confusion. Cleese also got in an impromptu knock against a British newspaper editor.
The “Monty Python Live (Mostly)” show has gotten decent reviews (mostly) during its three-week run, many praising the group for its contribution to comedy if lamenting the casualness of the live production. The final show was apparently little changed from the debut, with its many musical numbers and occasional hesitations. There were a couple special guests for the final show — Eddie Izzard and Mike Myers — and physicist Stephen Hawking, who joined a videotaped skit, was in the live audience.
Nevertheless, if the group didn’t break any new ground, then again, it didn’t have to.
“It gives the crowd exactly what they want but relies pretty heavily on the fan love and makes a hefty withdrawal from the reputation bank,” wrote The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw when the show debuted.
In a not-quite-full Atlanta theater where the show was simulcast, fans cheered their favorites, anticipating the Spanish Inquisition and singing along with “The Lumberjack Song.” There were a couple audio glitches at the beginning, but for the most part it was an enjoyable afternoon, with the show functioning more as a celebration of Python history than a demand for new material.
Indeed, fans looked on the bright side of Python all over. In Calgary, Alberta, a storm knocked out the audio, but the audience simply started a singalong.
As the show came to a close, two frames came up on the O2’s big screen: “Graham Chapman 1941-1989,” in memory of the late Python member, and “Monty Python 1969-2014.” If this is indeed the end, Python can go out knowing its legacy is secure.
And that’s not so completely different.
By Todd Leopold