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And now for something completely different

July 21, 2014 - Craig Howell
It is not often the world gets to bid a collective farewell to a group who has had such a massive influence on popular culture. But that's just what happened Sunday with what has been touted as the final performance of the Monty Python comedy troupe.

Formed in the 1960s, Monty Python came to be as many great groups do — they met in college (Terry Jones and Michael Palin at Oxford and Graham Chapman, John Cleese and Eric Idle at Cambridge). Terry Gilliam, the only American-born member, would meet the others during various comedy tours years later. The rest, as they say, is history.

Over the years, I had caught various bits of the Pythons' sketches and movies, and they had always resonated with me. It was something about the style of comedy, subtle and over-the-top at the same time, with a biting commentary on the world, that made it special.

So, a few weeks ago, when blogger/copy editor/web star/newsroom wiseman Paul Giannamore discovered the movie theater at the Beaver Valley Mall would be part of the simulcast of the final performance, plans were made. Paul, myself and Paul's friend, Jeff, made the journey — as Paul put it, his geekiest friend from his work life and his geekiest friend from his home life.

The performance itself, I'm sure, will go down as legend, with the five surviving Pythons (Graham Chapman joined the beloved Norwegian Blue in 1989) showing what has always made them so special. The (mostly) live show in England incorporated dance numbers, new takes on old favorites and some special guests.

I won't give away any spoilers as I'm sure there will be a recorded version available for purchase in the near future.

From spam, to fish fights, to songs about lumber jacks, it hit all the right notes, especially when the Pythons themselves couldn't keep it together, showing that, when you can't stick to a script, sometimes you end up with the best results.

There was laughter, joy, tributes to Chapman, and, I'm sure, a few tears shed around the world.

At the same time, it ended as it should have, with the Pythons, on stage, together, reminding everyone to "Always look on the bright side of life," as the audience sang along.


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