It would be difficult to imagine any other comedy troupe or comedian filling the O2 arena in London, other than Monty Python. After all, this is an outdoor stadium where the likes of Metallica and Elton John usually play, not comedy acts. However, Monty Python isn’t just any comedy group. Instead, this is that wacky British collaborative that featured (with full lineup) John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and the late Graham Chapman.
The group started as a zany TV show in 1969 with Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and went on to make classic comedy films, most notably Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which should be required viewing for every high school student. However, the group did occasionally tour, as well, much like a rock band, which is why this reunion concert DVD should not come as any great surprise to diehard fans of the act.
The DVD is a mixture of live performances, such as the full-blown theatrical version of the song “Every Sperm is Sacred” (from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life), and some favorite clips from the old show, exemplified by “The Philosopher’s Football Match.” The latter clip reveals Monty Python’s unique approach to comedy. Yes, it is possible to have a firm grasp on deep subjects -- like philosophy -- and still be hilariously funny.
Some may be wondering if these admittedly aging men have ‘still got it,’ so to speak. It’s one thing to be young men saying outrageous things, but it’s quite another to be doing and saying the same things well into adulthood. The good news is that because Monty Python skits are so darn smart, they have aged extremely well. For instance, Cleese’s characterization of Miss Anne Elk -- now an older, more mature scientist -- only gives the bit extra believability. Perhaps, though, accepting Eric Idle’s sexual naivety during “Nudge Nudge,” however, may require a little more suspension of disbelief.
Overall, though, One Down Five To Go is a heartening trip down memory lane for Monty Python fans. The true test of any live performance DVD is how much it makes you wish you were there, and this work ought to fill viewers with unbridled jealousy. Its title reflects this troupe’s morbid sense of humor, too, as Graham Chapman has since passed on making him the ‘one down,’ while the other five have yet to go. You get the feeling these men loved every minute of performing live together again. With material this good, it’s like experiencing a classic comedy symphony.