July 2014 will go down as a busy month for finales. For sport fans, the world cup in Brazil is drawing to a close, plus Wimbledon has come and gone for another year, but in the world of entertainment a quite significant swansong will be happening in just under a fortnight. Yes, unless you’ve been a castaway on a desert island, you’ll doubtless be aware that the run of nine Monty Python shows, at London’s o2, is in full swing and will bring the final curtain down upon some glittering comic careers.
Not that John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam won’t have their fingers in other pies of course, but as a group of performers this is it. Well they do have a combined age of 357, so we’ll let them off.
Has this caused some critics to go all soft and sentimental? As if! “Desperately lazy” and “a dodgy tribute band” are some of the more cutting comments that have surfaced, but with this being Monty Python there was always going to be more than a few crumbs of comfort: “Comedy history in the making” and “more golden than olden” were some of the more favourable reviews that any comic act would be proud of.
But the Pythons have so often been the marmite of the comedy world. Dividing opinion even in their heyday, is there any middle ground now that they are giving us one last innings? As far as fans are concerned it would appear not: “If you don’t like Monty Python, you won’t like the show,” said one diehard after Thursday’s instalment. A newspaper, however, suggested that even if this is an act way past its best, there is more than enough nostalgia in the air to carry them through: “You’d have to have a heart of stone not to enjoy hearing them again just a bit.”
And so, as what is sure to be a bittersweet farewell draws ever nearer, we can always take solace from the fact that the Python legacy will live on. With the last show being broadcast live on July 20th, it is an event that, even if you can’t stand the sight of them, should be well worth tuning in for.