Tag Archives: Python reunion

Committee Report

Before the Python reunion floodgates were opened a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was working on a book on The Committee, the legendary San Francisco Improvisational Theatre. It’s a fascinating story about a theatre that should be remembered and celebrated, if only for a couple of reasons.

First of all, it was Ground Zero for the San Francisco counter-culture during the ’60s, and the San Francisco counter-culture was, arguably, Ground Zero for what we all know today as the ’60s. As one of them put it, “The Sixties walked through our door.” If you hung out in San Francisco at all during that era and had any interest in the music scene or counter-cultural events, you likely spent a little time at The Committee. And if you did, you may have rubbed elbows with Lenny Bruce, or the Byrds, or the Jefferson Airplane. Because none of the hotels he stayed at had a piano, Bob Dylan used to stop by in the afternoons to practice playing piano. The Grateful Dead played their first gig there, when they were known as The Warlocks.

And that only scratches the surface, and doesn’t delve into any of the political figures or the social events of that time.

The second reason that improvisers today ought to remember it is because The Committee gave birth to The Harold and longform improvisation. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, but I was able to track down the real story and speak to many of those involved. The details are in my book The Funniest One in the Room: the Lives and Legends of Del Close. The Committee made a couple of attempts at a longer montage format, but it was after Alan Myerson, Del Close, and Bill Mathieu, conducting separate workshops, got together and compared notes, that they began working with The Committee members to develop what they later named The Harold.

There’s a lot more to the story, of course. Del brought The Harold back to Chicago with him and the world of improvisation was never the same–but it all started at The Committee.

I mention this not because my own book on The Committee is finished (don’t I wish), but because there is also another Committee project under way. Jamie Wright and Sam Shaw, who do a terrific job running the San Francisco Improv Fest, are working on a documentary film telling the story of The Committee as this, their 50th anniversary year, draws to a close. They’re interviewing as many folks as they can for this very worthwhile project, and they ran a successful Kickstarter campaign not long ago. Even though that has ended, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if other folks decided to support them as well. Their Facebook page is here, and you can learn lots more about it. BTW, we’re not competing with my book. We’re working together and pooling resources so that they can turn out the best film, and I can turn out the best book possible about The Committee. Not because we owe them–but because they’ve earned it.

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Python Reminder

For those otherwise occupied over the holiday weekend, tickets to five additional London Python reunion shows, July 15, 16, 18, 19, and 20, went on sale last Friday–their first live shows since 1980. The bad news is that some sections are completely sold out. But the good news is that there are still some tickets available here. I wouldn’t wait too long, though. If you miss out, they may not be as spry when they do their next reunion show in 2046.

Still More London Python Shows

Five more Python reunion shows have been added to the schedule for the O2 Arena next summer. The shows have been announced for July 15, 16, 18, 19, and 20, in addition to the previous five soldout shows.

The first show sold out in a record 43.5 minutes. Four more shows were immediately added, and they all sold out within a half hour.Tickets for the five added shows will go on sale on Friday July 29 at 10 a.m. (London time). See montypythonlive.com to register and for more details.

According to the official press release:

On announcing the extra dates, John Cleese said: “The response to our planned reunion has been very, very silly.  But, we’re all touched that so many fans still want to see such old people perform.  So we’re delighted to be adding more dates to the run at the O2.”

 

More Python Shows Coming!

ImageThe Monty Python Reunion shows sold out fast. Really fast. The 16,000 seat O2 Arena sold out the first show in 58 seconds, and the four added shows all sold out within a half hour.

If you’re among the many who weren’t able to score tickets, there’s good news on the way. More London shows are coming. Soon. Final details are being worked out even as I write this, and much depends on the availability of the O2 in July 2014. But don’t pay the ticket broker prices. Do keep trying montypythonlive.com . I don’t know how much notice there will be when they do put the additional shows on sale, so keep checking in. And keep in mind the the time difference, which may mean getting up in the middle of the night may be your best bet. I’ll try to keep you informed, but this could be a very sudden-notice situation…

Pythons Sell Out!

If you tried and failed to get tickets to the Python reunion show July 1 at London’s 02 Arena (it sold out in less than a minute), at least you had another chance. The good news: they added four more shows–July 2-5–at the same venue. The bad news: if you didn’t get tickets to any of those, you’re probably out of luck, as those have all sold out as well. Take a look here.

Possibly good news: the show may be adding some dates in Europe and America. Nothing is official yet, but I’ll be posting here as soon as I hear something.

When John Cleese first told me about the show, he said they planned to perform July 2, 3, and 4, so I was a little puzzled when the first show announced was for July 1. Guess I needn’t have worried…

 

 

And Now For Something Completely Trivial

My second Monty Python book has been out of print ever since 1991, and this seemed like a good time to rectify that. When Terry Jones leaked the news about the Python reunion, I rushed this into production as an e-book, and I’m rather delighted with the results. Here’s an easy way to order it.

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Fantasia Frog Designs was able to construct a cover (above) in nearly record time, and did an amazing job. It’s on sale right now on amazon.com as an e-book at the shockingly low price of $1.99, and will provide hours of brain-hurting entertainment for Mom, Dad, Junior, and Sis.

I’ll write a little more soon on how I originally wrote this, and why it took so incredibly long to do so. Stay tuned.

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.

Pythons and Pole Vaulting

My old pal Mark Evanier writes one of the best blogs ever (here), and is one of the reasons why I started blogging. He’s always interesting, and I agree with him about 99-percent of the time. He’s also a huge Python fan, and recently wrote about the upcoming Monty Python reunion here.  I think I should probably point out a couple of things to balance his thoughts.

It’s true–Graham Chapman will not be up there on the stage with them physically. My dear pal Graham made an ill-advised career move back in 1989. He has stubbornly insisted on remaining dead, so I suspect the other Pythons finally got fed up and decided to reunite without him. Yes, it will be sad to not have Graham there in person, but he will certainly be there in spirit and in video clips. Frankly, I’ve gone back and forth on this over the years, but have come to the conclusion that it’s good audiences will have a chance to see 5/6ths of the Pythons performing live, particularly when the other option is 0/6ths of the Pythons.

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Several people have also asked me about the Pythons getting up there “at their age” and doing their old sketches. My feeling is that is if a championship pole vaulter decided to make a comeback at age 70, he may be missing a step or two. But with comedy, particularly the Python style of comedy, they can perform as well as ever. I saw John Cleese perform a couple of months ago, and believe me, he hasn’t lost his sense of timing, and the others are every bit as sharp. This is going to be fun.

Pythons United!

ImageIt looks like Terry Jones has let this particular cat out of the bag. During a BBC interview Tuesday, Terry revealed that the Pythons are indeed reuniting to perform live once again. As soon as I get the okay to blog about this in more detail, I will. So stay tuned!