IFC's Monty Python 40th Anniversary Reunion Celebration, The Ziegfeld, New York
October 15, 2009
Monty Python for me is a symbol of my awkward "no clue who I really am" high school experience. My "love" for the Pythons began as a façade -- I'd watch my intense all-encompassing crush mouth all the words and renact scenes at Band Camp with the rest of the tenor sax section. I'd pretend I wasn't embarrassed when they'd do the bit from The Ministry of Silly Walks. Because that's teenage, pimply love, my friends.
Eventually, after faking it enough, I genuinely enjoyed it. Maybe it was through osmosis/brainwashing, since after speech team state competition, after opening night of our latest high school play, or just on a Friday night, down the winding, sometimes mile long driveway of a friend (the Meekers? The Steinbergs? The Pauls? The Lynches? Who can remember?) we'd all get together, this rag tag gaggle of nerds, plop on someone's 1970's couch and watch "Monty Python and The Holy Grail." This was usually followed by yard vandalizing of some sort. Last night at the 40-year reunion of Monty Python event at the Ziegfeld Theatre, I was goose-fleshed with flashback after glorious flashback.
The weather sucked. It was cold, which is no big whoop, but it was raining. And the rain was that half-assed effort rain where it just slowly seeps into your jeans and your soul and crushes your will to live. Luckily, I was able to circumvent the long, moistening line (thank you IFC!) and slip in with my Python-worshiping pal, Josh Sternberg of Sternberg Strategic Communications, where we ran into Laura Dempsey of The Dowd Agency who, small world, used to work with Josh back in the day. Before we even made it to our seats with our complimentary popcorn, Josh was singing along with the clip being played on the gigundous Ziegfeld screen.
The theatre is beautiful, cozy, and red. I expected flapper girls to appear offering cigars and cigarettes. This mood was compounded when "Mad Men"'s Feivel-Mouskawitz-bearded Michael Gladis (Paul Kinsey) and baby-faced Rich Sommer (Harry Crane) walked by, unaware that feverish fans could be lurking behind seats ready to rip their perfectly tailored suits off.
From the moment the truncated documentary rolled to the moment the Pythons left the stage, I laughed. Exhausted and gently downtrodden, I laughed myself awake and happy. Sternberg was in near hysterics - I was afraid we'd have to tie his jacket around his waist to hide a laugh puddle on the way out. Behind me was the wacky laugher (which I think I captured on video), which sent me into a chortle tsunami. If you're already a Monty Python fan, the documentary will confirm what you already know: The misfits will always win. Done in the IFC style I'm becoming more familiar with, of interviews, clips, stitched-together stories, backstories, alcoholism, death, and the stuff you never saw before, "Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut") felt honest and true to the Pythons.
The special viewing ended with the original cast of John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and the cardboard representation of the late Graham Chapman taking the stage to field audience questions. Their humor is so natural, so easy, so wonderfully offensive, so self-deprecating, and delivered with salty barbs. Judging by the gasping, eggplant-hued face of Terry Gilliam (who was sporting... was that a tail?), they still may be their own best audiences.
I left The Ziegfeld sleepy and near-sated by the belly laugh buffer delivered by the Monty Python team. But you know what, I could have gone right back in and sat through six more hours of those guys. I'm 100% certain with every nerd and nostalgia fiber of my being that John Cleese could simple read my fifth-grade diary aloud and I'd be happy.
You, too can travel down memory lane or get close to up to speed on Monty Python with their six-part documentary on IFC Oct. 18-23 at 9 p.m. I like to think that if you can laugh at/with British humor, you've got just a little more intelligence upstairs than the other guy. It's special. But, you know, if you don't "get it," I won't judge. Maybe.
You're right, there are no photos! Why? No flash photography allowed and I was in the way back, so it was pointless. But if you use your super search skills, I'll bet you can hunt some down!
*edited to include link to Q&A with The Monty Python posse !*
Next week is another busy week (it doesn't let up!) with a Brandhackers Meetup, an early morning corporate communications event (cross those fingers, Kelly needs breakfast), and some CMJ stuff - which actually, if you've got anything going on, please let me know at email@example.com and let's get you exposed to media, marketing, and advertising crowd!