Monty Python thrill fans with comeback but leave critics cold

Legendary comedy troupe Monty Python sealed their live comeback in front of 16,000 fans in London on Tuesday night (01Jul14). John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin kicked off their Monty Python Live (mostly) residency at the O2 Arena in front of a sellout crowd, marking their first public performance together since 1980.
They tackled classic sketches including the famous Dead Parrot gag, their I’m A Lumberjack song, and a rousing rendition of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.
The show also featured a live cameo from Stephen Fry, while TV star Professor Brian Cox and Stephen Hawking appeared in a taped segment, which included the revered physicist being pushed into a river.
However, the first gig sparked lacklustre reviews from critics, with many suggesting the act relied too much on old jokes and video sequences.
Peter Bradshaw of Britain’s The Guardian writes, “Monty Python Live (mostly) isn’t bad: 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… This live show won’t make any converts. But it sends the faithful away happy.”
The Independent’s John Walsh writes, “I was a fan of the Monty Ps from the start, and it pains me to criticise them. But this is desperately lazy production, resting on its laurels, uninterested in showcasing new material, relying on TV footage and the whooping adulation of an audience who know all the words,” but adds, “Elderly, much-loved and much-seen sketches are revivified in their mid-70s glory.”
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail’s Quentin Letts writes, “Once they were the sharpest thing in satire. Last night, quite often, they looked and sounded like a dodgy tribute band.”
Hugh Grant, Christoph Waltz, David Walliams, and Emma Thompson were among the celebrity guests who caught the show, which runs through until 20 July (14).