Monty Python Live! (mostly) ★★★★

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I will not buy this record, it is scratched.

When sextet minus one Monty Python announced, last year, that they would be back on stage for what is probably their last live show (so long as John Cleese’s alimony does not go up again), the world went mad. Tickets for the “only night” sold out in 42 seconds, making the comic group announce even more dates that also sold out promptly, showing them that the world still cares about silliness and nonsense.

But after the money went into their accounts, boy, were there some big shoes to fill. Expectations couldn’t be higher; and adding up to the fact that just because you’re a Monty Python fan, that does not mean you find all their material funny, deciding what to show and what to leave out from a huge career of sketches would not be an easy job. Plus, the age thing. From the moment Cleese can’t silly walk, what other things were past gone for the Pythons?

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This was going to be, no doubts, a show for fans only (and we highly doubt anyone else did cough up the money for it, hype or no hype). And as fans, all of us wanted the good old Pythons, and, of course, something completely different. Were our expectations filled? Well, yes and no. The show relied mostly on nostalgia, which included clips being shown on the big screen, putting us in the weirdest, most crowded YouTube Monty Python binge ever, but there were also some new stuff: songs (including the awkwardly and politically incorrect “China”), reworked gags (mostly taking the license that the BBC censorship never allowed) and a clever use of the screens for both the breaks (“Merch-o-Meter”) and the show (“Why not visit Canada this Year?”). The many, many costume changes were covered up by dancing and singing numbers that revisited the biggest musical hits of the group, but whose only sin was not to have any of the Pythons on them. Indeed, if there is one problem with the show, is that there are too little Pythons and too much Spam. Go figure.

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But when they were on stage, the audience was keen to make them feel loved. In the old days, when they started, their comedy would came from shock value, but now the real laugher comes from the anticipation. Whether when Michael Palin prepares himself to say what he feels is his real life vocation (something that even Cleese could not hold the laughter to), or when Cleese himself walks into a pet shop – no matter how old their faces and bodies tell us they actually are, we feel the same spark we felt the first time we saw it. And if they are indeed aware of time passing (they do start the show with the famous Four Yorkshireman sketch, only now no make-up needed to pretend the old age), on the other hand, some things do get better with age – like Idle and Palin walking around in lingerie for the Camp Judges moment. Add some celebrity cameos (and our favourite is without doubt the moment when annoying Brian Cox is run over by a singing Stephen Hawking), a joy to realise there’s still five of them left, and the warmth inside for seeing them on stage, happy and awkwardly, and you could do worse than kill for some tickets. After all, where else will you have the chance to see some giant penis cannons?

Monty Python will be at the O2 Arena in selected dates until 20th July

Sara is originally from Coimbra, Portugal, where she studied Film Studies before moving to London to enrol in film school. Having made her first short film about her neighbour's chickens when she was 9 (a dystopian sci-fi, still her favourite genre), she is now a London-based film director and editor, and also a writer for the Portuguese Take Magazine. She is a huge fan of Lars Von Trier, Krysztof Kiéslowski, and David Lean.