John Cleese & Eric Idle: Together Again at Last… For the First Time

By Megan Blackwell

Artists: John Cleese & Eric Idle

Date / Venue: Wednesday March 23rd, 2016 - Civic Theatre, Auckland

A night with two Pythons was bound to be a treat of greatest hits, nods to timeless gags and insightful anecdotes.  We weren’t disappointed.  The show was sold out and packed with baby boomers for Africa.  I was looking forward to seeing these comedy gods in all their glory.  I couldn’t wait to hear what songs Idle was going to pull out, and I was eager for Cleese’s barbed and cutting comments.  Let’s not forget how he bruised our national ego with his opinion of Palmerston North being “the suicide capital of New Zealand”.  

The stage had a small desk set up to the side, and two plush red chairs on a persian rug in the centre.  I figured with Cleese being 76 and Idle being 72 it’s only fair the gents should have comfy seats for their show.  It felt like we were about to settle in for a chat over a cuppa with some old friends.  

Idle dived right into a reference to the Holy Grail and the Monty Python theme song blared out through the theatre.   When you have a body of comedy work that spans a lifetime it was only natural that the show began with a montage of the Cleese & Idle’s greatest moments including the likes of the Taunting French Guard and the Ministry of Silly Walks.  We all collectively groaned and clenched our stomachs at the brief clip from Mr. Creosote Blows Up.

The first half flew by as we were regaled with the stories of their university years and early career that lead to the formation of the Pythons.  The back and forth between Cleese & Idle felt fun and effortless.  Their insights gave a real glimpse into where the silly style of Monty Python came from.  I was fascinated when Cleese talked about his experience of writing his autobiography.  His self reflection revealed the roots of his dark and hard edged humour.  I totally sang along when Idle took over the reigns with The Bruce’s Philosphers Song, Eric the Half Bee, Sit on My Face, The Penis Song, and The Universe Song.  I loved that we were given the world premiere of his new song Fuck Selfies.  The gents settled in for a Q & A session that covered everything from divorce to death, cats to hotels.  The show wrapped up with everyone singing Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

Cleese and Idle are as on point as ever.  They know what’s funny and what makes their audience tick.  They still make me laugh with their sharp one liners and ludicrous gags with elusive punchlines.  Just the right amount of “grumpy old man” jibes came through too.

Like anything else, comedy has gone through fashion trends but the gags from Monty Python have stood the test of time and continue to inspire comedians today.  I was reminded to always giggle at the silly and outrageous.  What’s the point if we don’t stop to laugh at a fart or sex joke?  

Following Idle’s final instructions, if you’re a fan there’s another show on tonight, go see it!  If you saw last night’s show and didn’t like it - STFU!