When Monty Python needed a celebrity to promote their septuagenarian reunion tour, there was really only one man to call.
Sir Mick Jagger has displayed a hitherto unknown flair for comedy in a short film that sees him poke fun at the Rolling Stones by dismissing the Python troupe as “a bunch of wrinkly old men” reliving past glories on stage in order to line their bank accounts.
“Monty Python? Are they still going?” he asks in pretend amazement. “Who wants to see that again? It was funny in the '60s.”
An aide tells him that tickets for the first gig at London’s O2 arena sold out in 40 seconds.
“Wow. They must be coining it in. That’s pretty amazing,” the singer shrugs. “But they’re still a bunch of wrinkly old men trying to relive their youth and make a load of money. I mean, the best one died years ago!”
The evergreen Stones frontman, 70, is not the only famous person to lend his support to the Python reunion.
Stephen Hawking will also appear in the shows, according to Eric Idle. “He’s a fan. He was asked and within one minute he said yes.”
Idle was joined by the other surviving Python members – Michael Palin, John Cleese, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam – to unveil some details of the £4.5 million ($8.17 million) production.
Dancing girls in Agent Provocateur underwear will provide entertainment in between the sketches, which are all present and correct: The Dead Parrot sketch, the Four Yorkshiremen, the Spanish Inquisition, plus scenes from The Meaning Of Life.
Male dancers will interpret the Ministry of Silly Walks because a series of knee operations has put paid to John Cleese’s high-stepping days. The dancing has been choreographed by Arlene Phillips, the former Strictly Come Dancing judge who worked on The Meaning of Life in 1983.
The Python team – average age 72 – conceded that performing at their age is hard work, and said they had drawn inspiration from Jagger.
They’re still a bunch of wrinkly old men trying to relive their youth and make a load of money
“The opening number is quite energetic. We leap around and it sets the standard. I’m quite worn out after the first number. We’ve got Jagger as an example and we can still move fast around the stage,” Cleese said.
He joked that the team “have lots of Viagra in our dressing room”.
“It really is a very high-powered, energetic show, especially for 70-year-old men. People of this age moving at this speed is quite extraordinary,” said Gilliam.
“It’s the next day you realise what you’ve done to your body.”
Idle said the team had thrown everything but the kitchen sink into the show, joking: “Our motto is: leave them wanting less.”
The finale will feature a musical number that incorporates Graham Chapman, the Python who died in 1989.
Idle explained: “He’s on screen and he even sings the last song. So he’s not totally absent and he’s certainly not forgotten.”
Extra tickets for the 10 London shows were released last night. Idle said he hoped fans would turn up in “silly costumes” and turn the event into a “crazy party”.
- The Telegraph, London