Dressed in white suit jackets befitting the occasion, the five surviving members of Monty Python, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, closed out their run of reunion shows Sunday evening by bidding farewell with the 1979 song from Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life“. Considered by many to be the most influential group of individuals on ‘what we call’ comedy today, this would be the musical equivalent of the Beatles getting back together. Joining them onstage Sunday (and for the entire reunion ‘tour’) was Carol Cleveland, the only woman to have made regular appearances in the 1960s iconic show.
Since announcing the tour, of which the opening night on July 1 sold out in 44 seconds, the troupe has repeatedly said that this would be the final time they would perform together. At 45, (1969-2014), they felt it was time. They would cease to be. They had run down the curtain and would be meeting the choir invisible. They would be no more. Bereft of life, it was time for Python to rest in peace. They are an ex-comedy troupe.
While it has been 45 years since they first appeared on the BBC with Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the group’s 40th anniversary of their U.S. television premiere on KERA (PBS/Dallas) is coming up this October. It was Sunday, October 6, 1974 at 10:00pm that Dallas’ public television station and program director, Ron Devillier, changed the television comedy landscape forever. It was March of 1975 that Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Graham Chapman appeared in studio at KERA in Dallas for “Festival ’75”, part of the stations fundraising drive. With no U.S. distributor for their newest venture, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the group seemed a bit oblivious as to the world-wide Python madness that was getting ready to be unleashed. Unfortunately, as you will see, only 15 minutes of a nearly 3-hour night on KERA in 1975 remains.
On behalf of public television in America and fans of Python worldwide, thanks for 45 years of laughter and here’s to 45 more.