Editorial: Python comeback faces danger of being a circus

But will it - can it - be funny in the unforgiving gaze of 2014?
But will it - can it - be funny in the unforgiving gaze of 2014?

Fans of Monty Python may not have known whether to laugh or cry at the news this week of a reunion stage performance of the 1970s television phenomenon.

Thirty years after the last show, the five surviving stars plan to revive Python's most memorable skits next northern summer in London. The famous stuff, but re-mixed, they say.

John Cleese acknowledges the comeback will help fill a hole in his bank balance, a motivating factor in uniting performers who had fallen out over the decades. No doubt, market research has found enough Britons willing to fund Cleese and his chums into an even more salubrious dotage. The stage gig will be filmed and sold for greater riches.

But will it - can it - be funny in the unforgiving gaze of 2014? Viewers of the Jones channel and UK TV on Sky here will know some of the greatest 1970s British comedies are at once marvels of nostalgia and cringe-worthy testament to time, place and technology.

Can the Python troupe, whose publicity tagline is One Down, Five to Go, in honour of the deceased sixth member Graham Chapman, possibly do justice to skits that are legendary not only for what they say but how they look and feel; the youngish anarchic voices and permanently adolescent movements?

Cleese remembers a crowd booing Neil Diamond for attempting new songs, not his old classics, at a concert.

So they know the risks.

Let's hope they laugh, and make us all laugh, in the face of the doubters.

- NZ Herald

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