Early Monday morning, the fine chaps at BBC Radio telephoned me and asked me to provide an American's analysis of how Monty Python's comedy has stood the test of time, 40 years after their first TV broadcast on the BBC. Alas, alack, I cannot find a digital clip of our live on-air chat, but I know that it happened, and that I said something to the effect of: "When they said, 'And now for something completely different,' they really meant it. They rewrote the rules of sketch comedy, by saying there were no rules." Here is a BBC-TV clip that shows how Ricky Gervais and other Brits feel about their favorite Monty Python sketches.
American fans of Python are in for many treats this month. Eric Idle's An Evening Without Monty Python, a live stage tribute to the troupe's classic sketches, has played to live audiences in Los Angeles and is enjoying a run through this weekend in New York City. I'll let Idle explain the show:
John Cleese, meanwhile, has developed a new one-man show about his life and times — all to fund his divorce settlement! True story. Cleese talks more about that and the Python reunion in a new interview today with New York magazine.
All of this, though, is leading up to live and televised events that start next week here in New York City. On Oct. 14, all five surviving members of Monty Python will appear as guests on NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The following night, Oct. 15, they'll appear at NYC's Zeigifeld Theatre for a screening of the new documentary about them, followed by a Q-and-A session. Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyers Cut) will air in six parts from Oct. 18-23 on IFC.
That week also will launch IFC's "Python-A-Thon," in which the cable channel will air a Python feature film each night following the documentary, followed in turn by an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Thereafter, IFC will air all 13 episodes from the first season at 7:30 p.m. Mondays and 11 p.m. Fridays, with seasons two, three and four airing in 2010.
In case you need more reasons to be excited for this, you could check in with The Laugh Track's list of the 10 Funniest Monty Python Sketches. Or you could visit the official Monty Python YouTube channel and spend the day and night laughing out loud (read my report on that, why don't you?). I believe the old people call that LOL.
And for the history buffs, here is Michael Palin explaining the origins of it all. Roll the clip!