Hot Docs 2015: Monty Python – The Meaning of Live – Roger Graf & James Rogan


I came to the Monty Python phenomena in the late 80s, early 90s during my uni days, which is sad as they’d been around since 69, and had basically not done anything together in a long time at that point. But immediately afterwards I was a devout fan, my favorite member of the troupe constantly shifting, depending on the dialogue, the scenario, and the moments.

Over the years, they’ve gone their separate ways. Now, decades on, the show and the cast still endure. And in 2013, they announced they would be reuniting for a landmark show, that would see Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, Eric Idle and Michael Palin sharing the stage one last time bringing a final chapter to a this legendary comedic troupe.

What Graf and Rogan have captured is 90 minutes of cinematic comedy and joy filled with that wonderful Python humor as we get a look at the progression of the live show, the first performance of which sold out in 40 seconds, and necessitated the addition of another 9 nights!

We follow them from their first reading of the proposed show, to the incredibly short rehearsal period to the finished product on the stage. You can’t help but sit there and smile, laughing aloud, as favorite sketches are revisited, reinterpreted, and occasionally, messed up as the Pythons break one another up.

Coupled with these brilliant moments, are private chats with each of them, as they reveal memories, fears, and reflections on their history, their success and each other.

For 10 glorious nights, the Pythons, with nods to their late member, Graham Chapman throughout, entertained and brought the world together in a way that they never would have believed when they were first starting out in the late 60s, and it was amazing.

This is a crowd-pleaser in every sense, and the audience was completely involved from the get-go, clapping, laughing aloud, and smiling when they saw moments from their favorite sketches brought to new life. And there are oh so many to choose from.

Of all the films I’ve seen this year at Hot Docs, this is the one I wanted to be longer, to not end, to keep going, share one more sketch, share one more story. It left the audience wanting more, in the best of ways, going out on a high note, and allowing us, the viewers to have and share one more moment with these members of Comedy Royalty. I went home, and dug out all of my Monty Python DVDs and am cycling them into high rotation again.

What a wonderful legacy these gentlemen are leaving us, and what a fantastic film to do it with.

Monty Python – The Meaning of Live screens again today at 11:30am at the Bader theater, Saturday 2 May at 9pm at the Fox Theatre, and Sunday 3 May at 4:00pm.


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