Of course the first question to the Monty Python team at their press conference on Thursday had to come from a Spanish TV journalist, didn’t it? It may as well have been scripted.
“Nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition,” chipped in Michael Palin to much laughter from the packed auditorium – as much for the glorious predictability of the joke as for his impeccable comic timing.
Yes, if the five surviving Pythons – John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones – proved anything at today’s event at London’s Playhouse Theatre it is that they’ve still got it.
In a larky press conference curated by Warwick Davies (the Life’s Too Short star was standing on a box) they deliberately sat behind the wrong namecards and answered questions for other Pythons.
Asked if they were doing it for the money, they didn’t say no – Eric Idle said it was in aid of Terry Jones’ mortgage – but they promised a big show, one that would be choreographed by Arlene Phillips no less…
This sounded like another joke at first but the former Strictly judge was in the audience and popped her hand up, so it probably wasn’t. Carol Cleveland, the token female Python who usually appeared in sketches wearing not very much at all, was there too and said she was delighted to be asked to go on stage in a showgirl costume at the age of 72.
Not everyone was faring quite so well in their later years, though. Cleese confessed that his dodgy knees and hips would mean that “the silly walk is out”.
But the Pythons were confident they have enough good stuff without it. Palin admitted the new material they’d been working on “is really rather funny”, while Cleese said of the tried and tested sketches, “the main danger is that the audience know the script better than we do.”
So what to expect?
Well, a mix of old and new material, clearly, and plenty of silliness.
“I didn’t think it would be possible to be silly at 73 but actually you can be more silly,” said Palin.
“When you are in your seventies you can be shameless,” added Gilliam.
I, for one, am glad to hear it.