On Sunday, the final show of the Monty Python reunion run, “Monty Python Live (Mostly)” will take place at the O2 Arena in London and in movie theaters around the United States.
There, the five living Pythons – John Cleese, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam – will surely bring out a “greatest hits” setlist of highly-quotable sketches, from “Dead Parrot” to “The Lumberjack Song.”
It will likely be a fun nostalgia trip for those old enough to have seen “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” during its first television run or those (of us) who grew up with parents who loved the British sextet.
Those years of Python activity, from 1969 to 1983, only make up part of the careers of those six individuals, though. Whether it was in side projects during the Age of Python or during the more than 30 years since the release of the film “Monty Python’s Meaning of Life,” their paths have intersected on various occasions, with differing degrees of success.
For those looking for an advanced study in Pythonology, here are five great collaborations between the members of the greatest sketch comedy troupe of all time.
Written and directed by Terry Gilliam, featuring Michael Palin
This spot could be filled by any number of Gilliam’s first few post-Python films (“Time Bandits,” “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”) but there may be no better example of Python-esque silliness and anarchy than a film that Universal felt compelled to butcher into a cut commonly known as “Love Conquers All,” because the original ending was thought to be too dark for American audiences.
“A Fish Called Wanda”
Written by John Cleese, featuring Cleese and Michael Palin
Quite possibly the most successful post-Python film inAmerica for any of the six core members of the troupe, “Wanda” made more than eight times its budget, and an extra nearly $30 million, according to the Internet Movie Database. It also spawned the better-forgotten “FierceCreatures.”
“The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash”
Directed and written by Eric Idle, featuring Idle and Michael Palin
A mockumentary about a Beatles-esque band, “The Rutles” saw Idle and Palin get help from Python regular Neil Innes, “Saturday Night Live” cast members Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi and Gilda Radner, and even … a Beatle, George Harrison.
“Secret Policeman’s Other Ball”
Featuring John Cleese and Graham Chapman
The good: Cleese and Chapman reuniting with members of the groundbreaking pre-Python sketch group behind “At Last the 1948 Show.” The bad: This series of benefit shows, while raising money for the worthy Amnesty International, also helped inspire Bob Geldof to get into charity work, thefirst result of which was “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”.
Book and lyrics by Eric Idle, featuring John Cleese (as the Voice of God)
The Tony Award winner for “Best Musical” in 2006, “Spamalot” may have gotten lukewarm reactions from the other Pythons, but audiences and critics disagreed; the Broadway production brought in more than $175 million and it won three Tonys, a Grammy and three Drama Desk Awards.
IF YOU GO: “Monty Python Live (Mostly)” will be broadcast at theaters throughout the area on Sunday at 2:30 p.m., with encore presentations on July 23 and 24. Check FathomEvents.com for the nearest screening.