I was just a bit too young for Monty Python first time around. That is, the show was on telly, but dad wouldn't let me stay up to watch it. At the time I was mostly into radio comedy, being a huge fan of I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again. I still have some reel-to-reel tapes of their shows in the loft. Now that was the proper stuff. And anyway, Spike Milligan and Q5 were already doing that kind of thing.
When I finally got round to watching the show (on the old black and white telly that we kept upstairs) I thought the first few seasons were marvelous. The structure was just amazing. They were supposed to be anarchic and wild but to me the best bit was the way that the various sketches were threaded together.
That linkage disappeared in the later seasons, when the cast discovered that their success was such that they could to turn up and shout at the camera to get huge laughs from a devoted fan base, but if you've not seen the first two seasons you really should seek them out, they are fantastic constructions of comic genius.
Their earlier films brought back the tight structure again and of course I ended up with the books, records and whatnot over the years. The world of computing owes the comedy troupe a debt as well, the origins of "spam" email are the celebrated "spam with everything" sketch and the Python language is so named because the creator "Just likes Monty Python".
And so we come to the live show this evening, either a cynical cash-in from once great performers or a chance to see the magic live again. Or perhaps a bit of both. But you have to go along, don't you?
We turned up at the cinema and were told that "due to a satellite fault" we would not be able to see all of nearly all of Monty Python. Technical troubles meant that a third of the picture was being lopped off the screen. They didn't blame the satellite for the failure of the air conditioning (perhaps they thought that an audience with a high geek factor wouldn't fall for that one) but at least the ice cream was keenly priced.
As for the performance, it was everything I expected. Even with the missing part of the picture. Most of the gems were present and correct (even if John Cleese kept forgetting his lines - probably out of boredom). There were some clips from the original shows, including the wonderful Fish Slapping Dance and some sparkly song and dance numbers. All in all the evening delivered.
I think there is probably an ancient Chinese saying somewhere along the lines of "Age turns you into the things you most despised when you were younger." And if there isn't, there probably should be. At the end of their career the Pythons are the kind of thing that the younger versions of themselves would have lampooned mercilessly. But they are all clever enough to be aware of that and the need to keep the customers happy. In the end we all left with smiles, humming "Always look on the bright side of life".
And I'll probably end up buying the inevitable Blu-Ray and book.......