Monty Python Said to Be Reuniting; Here's a Primer on Its History

Terry Jones confirmed speculation that the remaining members are planning a reunion show.

Actors Michael Palin, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle attend the Monty Python 40th Anniversary event at the Ziegfeld Theatre on Oct. 15, 2009, in New York City.
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British sketch comedy group Monty Python gave fans of the "Flying Circus" a reason to look on the bright side of life. Python comedian Terry Jones confirmed speculation that the five remaining members would be reuniting on stage. "We're getting together and putting on a show - it's real," Jones told the BBC Tuesday.

The news comes after a press conference was announced for Thursday during which John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Jones are expected to announce plans for a reunion. The sixth Monty Python member, Graham Chapman, died of cancer in 1989.

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The troupe rose to fame with its BBC sketch variety series "Monty Python's Flying Circus," which premiered in 1969. During its four-season run, "Flying Circus" pushed the boundaries of the sketch comedy format, crystallizing Python's brand of absurdist humor and its ability to blend low- and high-culture references. While everyone has his or her favorite skit, "The Dead Parrot" is considered one of the greats, voted the best alternative comedy sketch by a Radio Times poll and ranked No. 2 on UK Channel 4's 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches.

 

Monty Python spun out its silver screen success into a feature film, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," a satire on Arthurian legend, released in 1975.

 

Its next film, 1979's "Life of Brian" drew controversy from religious groups as it centered around a man who is repeatedly mistaken for Jesus. "Life of Brian" also included the seminal Monty Python classic song "Always Look at the Bright Side of Life," which closes out the film.

 

The song is so etched into the British cultural psyche that it was performed at the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, with a special appearance by Idle.

 

Monty Python made another film, "The Meaning of Life," and released a number of other specials with its sketches. The six members went on to pursue various solo careers, and the last time the living members were all on stage together was the Aspen Comedy Festival at 1998. (An urn, said to contain Chapman's ashes, was jokingly brought out on stage.)

In 2005, the group's comedy was brought to Broadway with "Monty Python's Spamalot," a musical comedy "lovingly ripped off from the motion picture 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail.'" Its Broadway run won the Tony for Best Musical and has since toured worldwide. The five members attended the premiere together.

 

"Monty Python's Spamalot" is currently on a run at London's Playhouse Theater, where the Thursday press conference is set to take place.

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