THE remaining members of Monty Python have confirmed they will perform together more than 30 years after their last stage performance.
But in a nod to their advancing years, the veteran comedy troupe of John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones ruled out reviving one of their most famous sketches.
Cleese, now 74, said he was now too infirm to recreate the Minister of Silly Walks.
“I have an artificial knee and an artificial hip so there’s no chance of that,” he said.
Yet while the Ministry of Silly Walks was dead, the comedy troupe insisted the “dead parrot sketch” was very much alive and on the bill.
The raucous press conference at the Playhouse Theatre in London had the atmosphere of a comedy dress rehearsal with each of the five remaining members intent on topping each other’s gags.
When asked a question by a Spanish journalist, Palin fired back: “Nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition.”
The backdrop to the press conference was a drawing by Gilliam of a giant foot stomping on a graveyard with the words; “One down, five to go.”
Idle promised that the sixth Python, the late Graham Chapman, “won’t be absent”. “We actually have told him we’re going to be on and, if there is a God, he’ll show up,” he said.
As each member is now 70 or over the Pythons joked that a medical team would be on standby and that each would bring their own nurse.
The veteran comics were introduced by Warwick Davis, who recently appeared in Spamalot, the Python-inspired stage show.
Poking fun at World Cup organisers Fifa, he announced what was said to be the winning bid, claiming the venue to host the comeback show would be “Qatar”.
Finally he announced that the show would take place at the O2 Arena on 1 July with tickets going on sale on Monday, priced from £26.50 to £90 or, as Idle quipped “only £300 cheaper than the Stones”.
Idle said fans can “expect a little comedy, a lot of pathos, some music and a tiny bit of ancient sex”.
He also said it would have “modern, typical, Pythonesque twists”.
The Pythons’ last major live show was at the Hollywood Bowl in 1982.
“We’ll be doing material we’ve never done live. There’ll be quite a lot of that,” said Idle.The Pythons have amassed millions of fans for their groundbreaking, anarchic comedy series and films, which also launched their successful solo careers.
Asked why the reunion was being held now, Idle joked: “We’re all trying to pay for Terry Jones’s mortgage.” Cleese then said “at first” the gig would be “a one and only” but did not rule out further performances. He said Palin – who has gone on to become a globe-trotting TV adventurer – had “chickened out” of earlier plans and needed to be convinced.
Monty Python’s Flying Circus was made for TV between 1969 and 1974 and generations of fans can recite lines and whole sketches. The team went on to make films including Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Monty Python’s Life of Brian.
Palin said that when they did eventually get together the five of them just “still enjoy getting together to be very silly”.