Comedy group's five surviving members still full of gags on 40th anniversary of Flying Circus
By Ed Pilkington i
|The Monty Python Troupe (1969) — Top Row (l to r): Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam; Bottom Row (l to r): Terry Jones, John Cleese, Michael Palin.|
NEW YORK — The five surviving members of Monty Python reunited briefly in New York last night, using the occasion to poke fun at each other, Germans, Bafta, which gave them an award from 3,000 miles away in London, and above all the one person who wasn't there: Graham Chapman.
The sixth member of the comedy group died in 1989, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the TV debut of Flying Circus. He was represented by a cardboard cut-out at the 40th anniversary celebration of the show at the Ziegfeld cinema in Manhattan. Chapman's likeness was dressed in military uniform as the Colonel.
In a question and answer session after a showing of the new Python documentary, Almost the Truth — The Lawyer's Cut, John Cleese was asked how much creative input had come from Chapman, his writing partner. Cleese replied that there were two types of day, "days when I did 80% of the work, and days when Graham did 5% of the work".
At which point Michael Palin interjected: "He's dead now, you can say things like that."
The Pythons recalled being taken during their first tour of Germany to the Dachau concentration camp, only to find it closed. Terry Jones recounted how Chapman had said: "Tell them we're Jewish."
"It worked, they let us in," Jones said.
At the end of the evening the Pythons received a Bafta special award in honour of their outstanding contribution to film and television.
On the red carpet before the event began, Palin said he could not understand why they were being given the British award in New York. "A Bafta in Rio, or a Bafta Fiji chapter — now that would be good."
A brief video from the event is available here.
October 16, 2009 — Return to cover.