No One Expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Fact. Even at the Monty Python Live show, they caught us by surprise. I laughed all night, virtually non-stop.

The Pythons
I am still pinching myself. Did I really sing along to the Lumberjack song? See the ‘Spam Lake Radio Ballet’? Surreal, but true. After buying tickets back in November, the day had finally arrived to see the penultimate show of Monty Python Live at the O2 Arena.

The list of classic moments is so long I actually had to write them down after the show. Sketches and sing-alongs interspersed with new material, famous clips and animations from the Flying Circus television show and Python films made each moment a treat, we literally did not expect the Spanish Inquisition. (Until Palin, Jones and Gilliam burst onto stage in red robes to wild shrieks)

This kind of highly anticipated event is one that runs the risk of not living up to expectation, especially when you consider the troupe have not performed together for 30 years. This idea was quashed as John Cleese was about to deliver the first line (looking suitably ridiculous wearing a Viking helmet) and burst out laughing instead. This sent the audience into utter hysterics, forcing him to ‘shush’ us like a farcical schoolmaster before he continued.

The hilarity resumed with the Philosopher’s song, the Chinese song, Whizzo’s Crunchy Chocolate Frog sketch and the Bruce’s amongst many other new and old moments. It was heart-warming to see that all the Pythons were really enjoying themselves, teasing each other and making each other laugh while still remaining professional.

One glorious moment occurred with Terry Jones and John Cleese. They were in drag,  sitting rather ungracefully a couch doing a scene when Jones forgot his line. Both laughing, Cleese leaned over to prompt Jones and again ‘shushed’ the audience – most of us were about to roll off our seats.

The inquisition sketch itself segued into Eric Idle’s Universe song prompting a celebrity guest recording of famous physicist Brian Cox refuting the lyrics as utter nonsense, as he would know. He was then run over by Stephen Hawking in his wheel chair, who continued to sing the song in his mechanical voice. By this point I was weeping with laughter.

During the interval I tried to give my cheeks a rest from all the giggling and a man sitting next to us in our row started telling us that he had seen the Pythons perform in Drury Lane in the seventies as a teenager. I asked him what changes he noticed to which he replied only that they were older. We both agreed that this performance would live in our hearts as well as our heads.


The second act began with a new sketch – a reality show blackmailing stars for cash to stop the cheesy host (Palin) from revealing dirty secrets about them. A surprise guest was escorted onto stage with a bag on his head as Palin’s character announced this person may or may not be a celebrity whom they intended to blackmail. The bag was removed to reveal Eddie Izzard! As I picked my jaw off the floor Izzard was forced to declare that as a lifelong transvestite he categorically denied ‘reports’ he’d recently been wearing men’s underpants.
They continued with the much anticipated Spam song, flower arranging according to Gumby and the Parrot sketch to name just a few.
The absence of Graham Chapman was certainly felt, but his presence was invoked by his face appearing in the opening animation as well as clips being shown. The finale song was Christmas in Heaven, the closing number from ‘The Meaning of Life’ film, which was originally sung by Chapman. They began the number with a film clip and continued it live, complete with ‘bare breasted’ dancing angels and of course audience participation.
The encore was a mass sing-along, with the crowd conducted by the Pythons, of Bright Side of Life. Singing along was definitely emotional. While not being able to wipe the grin off my face, it was hard not to think that this once in a lifetime opportunity was at its end and would soon be just a part of the UK’s entertainment history. How proud I am to say that I was there.
As they left the stage and the audience started shuffling out, the enormous screen at the back of the stage displayed ‘Graham Chapman 1941 – 1989’ invoking much applause and cheers, followed sadly by ‘Monty Python 1969 – 2014’. A bitter sweet moment as reality sank in, shortly capped by their last message to us: 

Dismissed in true Python style
I left with a sore throat from cheering, red hands from enthusiastic clapping but also a very glad heart. A wonderful evening, a very special memory which will make me chuckle to myself for years to come.  

‘Fan Face’


4 thoughts on “No One Expects the Spanish Inquisition!

  1. Aaargh! A spectacular treat. Thanks for your vivid description of the show. A friend of ours wrote “… the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time …” They fit the bill. What a show.
    Blues Uncle


  2. Thanks T. There will be a DVD released towards the end of the year. If you can't find a copy in your new town let me know 😉


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