And now for something completely awful

Rumours of a Monty Python reunion lead Gerard Gilbert to wonder: why?

The Stone Roses aren't the only fondly remembered combo reuniting for the first time since the Nineties. The cast of Monty Python's Flying Circus (minus, of course, the late Graham Chapman) is reportedly reassembling for the first time since 1998 to voice a 3D part-animated sci-fi comedy called Absolutely Anything, to be directed by Terry Jones. Absolutely anything to do what, we may be forgiven for asking, while giving thanks that animation will conceal the worst ravages of age.

Let's not forget that a paunchy John Cleese was recently fund-raising in a one-man show called the Alimony Tour, to help pay for a £20m divorce settlement. And that way back in 1971 Michael Palin wrote in his diary that, "John and Eric (Idle) see Monty Python as a means to an end - money to buy freedom from work". But let's suppose that the film is not just a belated whip-round for the Pythons' pension pots. Would it be such a good idea? And will it actually happen?

After all it rather supposes that Eric Idle will re-join the fold. Echoing George Harrison's words about a Beatles reunion - that there "won't be one as long as John Lennon remains dead" – Idle once quipped that there would be a Python reunion "just as soon as Graham Chapman comes back from the dead". But a more serious fissure seems to have opened up in 1998 over Cleese's refusal to take part in a mooted sequel to their 1975 movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Idle eventually cooked up a hit musical from the bones of Holy Grail; Spamalot, itself a cause of recent rancour after Idle excised John Cleese's voice from the part of God - thus saving on paying Cleese extra royalties. In a Twitter spat Cleese dubbed his former comedy partner "Yoko Idle", in reference to Yoko Ono's alleged role in splitting up the Beatles. In fact Monty Python reunions have become rather like the Dead Parrot sketch in which the parrot's purchaser says it's dead, while the pet-shop owner insists it's just resting.

Resting or deceased, during that famous 1979 TV debate in which Palin and Cleese defended Life of Brian against Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark, Mervyn Stockwood did at least make one good point when he called the Pythons' humour "undergraduate". Indeed it was probably the most successful ever example of undergraduate humour, with a strong appeal to anyone aged between eight and 28. It feels a bit odd, cynical even, coming from the over-70s, which is the age that all the cast members will be by the time Absolutely Anything is released.

But the real point about Monty Python's Flying Circus is surely that it was of its time. It's hard to overstate the excitement triggered by the opening beats of 'The Liberty Bell', the American marching music that doubled as Monty Python's theme tune, when the show first aired between 1969 and 1974. I know because I was there. It revolutionised TV comedy, and its descendants are everywhere, from Craggy Island to Royston Vasey, The Mighty Boosh to This Is Jinsy - although it can't just be a coincidence that, unlike the almost nightly Fawlty Towers repeats on the digital TV station Gold, Monty Python is rarely re-shown. Unlike Cleese's Torquay hotelier sitcom, in other words, it is not a show that rewards repeated reviewing. Few things date faster than out-and-out silliness.

It's easy to forget that Monty Python sketches were often hit-and-miss, and so familiar have the hits - the Dead Parrot, Cheese Shop and Spam sketches - become by repetition that they have evolved more into liturgies than comedy routines. Absolutely Anything will apparently not be a Monty Python film as such, but Pythonesque "in tone". How could it not be? Thanks, guys, you were great, but time for something completely different.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

    Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on