Monty Python reunion show sells out in 43.5 seconds

Monty Python comedians Michael Palin (left), John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle agree to produce the once impossible. Photo / AP
Monty Python comedians Michael Palin (left), John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle agree to produce the once impossible. Photo / AP

Monty Python have added another four dates to their "one-off" reunion show after 14,500 tickets to their first London live performance sold out in just 43.5 seconds.

John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin announced their surprise return to the stage last week, sparking huge excitement among fans of the comedians who have not performed together since 1980.

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The cult British troupe said they only planned to do one show at the O2 Arena in London on July 1, and Idle said the intention was "to see if we can fill it".

But the promoters were clearly prepared for the huge demand and added four additional shows when the tickets went live.

All five dates sold out within an hour - and some 65 tickets for the first night were immediately posted on re-sale sites for a whopping £1600 (NZ$3151).

"The first show sold out in 43.5 seconds. Four further shows immediately went on sale: 2-5 July. All shows sold out within 55 minutes," a spokesman for Monty Python told AFP.

Idle said: "It's totally amazing. I don't think we realised quite how much Python is loved round the world.

In a reference to the Pythons' joke last week about why they had reformed, Idle added: "We look forward to paying off Terry Jones' mortgage soon."

Despite the extra dates - all at the O2 in London - many fans were left disappointed and blamed touts for bulk-buying tickets.

"Ridiculous ... Real Python fans are missing out here," wrote Helen Stewart on one forum.

The Pythons will perform the most famous sketches from their films and cult television show Monty Python's Flying Circus - although advancing age has imposed some limits on what they will be able to do.

Cleese, 74, admitted that a repeat of his Ministry of Silly Walks sketch will be "impossible" as he now has an artificial hip and artificial knee.

The tickets were priced between £27.50 and £95 - "only 300 cheaper than the Stones" quipped 70-year-old Idle - and the shows are likely to make the Pythons a lot of money.

Aside from Jones' mortgage, Cleese had to pay out millions of pounds in his most recent divorce and wrote the 2011 show The Alimony Tour to raise money to pay his ex-wife.

The troupe became famous with the irreverent and surreal Flying Circus show, which ran from 1969 to 1974 and was sold to almost 100 countries.

They also made several films including 1975's Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a parody of the legend of King Arthur, and Monty Python's Life of Brian in 1979, the tale of a young man mistaken for Jesus which riled religious groups.

The reunion show is called "one down, five to go" - a reference to sixth member Graham Chapman, who died of cancer in 1989 at the age of 48.

Chapman took part in the Pythons' last live performance in the United States in 1980 and their final film, The Meaning of Life, in 1983.

Last week the surviving Pythons would not be drawn on whether they might take their reunion tour outside Britain.

They joked about touring Europe on a camping holiday, but when asked if they would go to Australia, Cleese said: "The only problem with Australia is that there are planets closer than that."

There will be some new material, but also a lot of the old favourites. "The main danger we have is that the audience know the scripts better than we do," Cleese said.

One of their hit sketches was Dead Parrot, where Cleese tries to return a Norwegian Blue to a pet shop because it is dead. The owner, Palin, responds: "He's not dead, he's resting!"

"I suppose we'll do some version of the parrot - Mike?" Cleese told the press conference, turning to Palin, who replied: "The parrot? I think I've forgotten that."

- AFP

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