Dead Parrots

My pal Mark Evanier and I have been trading comments about the Python reunion on our respective blogs. Here’s his latest.

I point this out in particular not because I disagree with him, because I very much agree with him. [Although I do disagree with Mark about something: the Hollywood Bowl shows were Sept. 26-29, 1980, not ’81.]

The Python reunion will inevitably be less of a performance and more of a rock concert, with people showing up to see the legends performing their legendary sketches. John Cleese always talks about how he was unnerved when they first performed the Dead Parrot Sketch live at the City Center in New York, because the audience was so quiet. He thought it has bombed, until he saw the audience members all mouthing the words.

On another occasion, performing the same sketch, Michael Palin had broken his concentration so badly that John had completely forgotten the words. He leaned over into the audience and said “What’s the next line?” And about a dozen people shouted it at him. He began conducting the audience, who knew all the lines as well as he did, for the rest of the sketch. Those are the kinds of moments that will be special for the audiences who see them live.

The guys are trying to satisfy both segments of the audience–those who want a “Greatest Hits” performance, and those who want to see something–well, something completely different. Which may be impossible. But it’s safe to say that there will be new spins on some of the old favorites, as well as some bits that have never been performed live, and several surprises.

A live show had been under serious discussion in 1999, to be held in Las Vegas. The opening number would have featured an over-the-top Vegas-style musical production, with showgirls pushing around Graham Chapman’s coffin. I doubt they’ll be taking the Vegas approach this time, but that gives you an idea of the sort of thinking they’re doing.

One thing is certain: whether audiences are going for the entertainment or the history, they’ll be getting both.

I’ll be posting ticket information here soon, along with some Python book information.

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