Leading article: Let sleeping parrots lie

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The Independent Online

Hands up who really finds the word "ni" or jokes about the Spanish Inquisition funny? No? You see, you are not alone. It's not the fault of Michael Palin or Eric Idle that the humour of the Monty Python team has become somewhat groan-inducing.

And as the musical Spamalot opens in London tonight, of course we wish it the same runaway success it has already enjoyed on the Broadway stage.

No, it's just that someone has to stand up for that cowed and intimidated minority who can't bear any of it any longer.

We are talking of those who never again want to have to set their faces into a grin as either their spouses, workmates, bosses, potential boy or girlfriends or anyone else, does a "silly walk", sings "Always look on the bright side of life", recites the cheese sketch, or the parrot sketch - or tries in any way to resurrect any of the sketches that were immortalised by the Python team all those years ago.

That's the point. Many things were great in their time, but don't necessarily benefit from, or require, any kind of revival.

Think of whalebone corsets, coal fires, steam trains, or more recently, Black Forest gateau and the pop group Queen. They all were wonderfully evocative of a particular era - and are perhaps best left in it.

Should not the jokes of the Python era be finally left in peace? The whole point of the show was its spontaneous and anarchic quality. But now most of those sketches are about as anarchic and unexpected as a recitation of the Lord's Prayer. The problem is simply that we know the lines too well. Let them be.

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