One undeniable consequence of the Internet is that our world moves much faster than it did 30 years ago. Pop culture has evolved at an equally speedy rate, the result of which is that old favorites are often buried by an influx of new TV shows, movies and music. And although the Internet has the power to bury the classics, it also has the power to revive them. One such example is that of “Monty Python”, a British comedy troupe that recently announced its first reunion performance since 1989. In a display of the Internet’s powers of resuscitation, “Monty Python” took to entertainment website Reddit to answer fans’ questions and spread word of the upcoming performance.
“Monty Python” first appeared on BBC in 1969 with a television series called “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” Each episode was a series of sketches based on a variety of ridiculous premises and punctuated by writer Terry Gilliam’s eccentric animations. It was rare that two consecutive “Flying Circus” sketches might follow the same theme and many were downright strange. But it was in absurdity that “Monty Python” found its niche, offering their critique of life at the time through the lens of silly antics – in fact, some of the group’s most popular sketches were based on the most absurd premises.
For example, in one fan favorite, a mild-mannered British man visits the “Ministry of Silly Walks” to obtain funding to develop his silly walk. But, after demonstrating his silly walk, the man is denied funding because, as the minister says, “it’s not particularly silly, is it?”
In another skit, an aggravated drill sergeant struggles to teach a group of timid men to defend themselves against attackers armed with fresh fruit. The problem is, they’ve already covered all the kinds of fresh fruit and one man would rather learn to defend himself against pointed sticks.
In a third skit, a man goes to a cheese shop but realizes after a few minutes of hilarious arguing that the shop is entirely sold out, despite the owner’s insistence to the contrary. He shoots the shop owner.
The immense success of “Flying Circus” led the six-man crew – composed of Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, John Cleese and the late Graham Chapman – to the silver screen. They had major hits with “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975), which followed the backwards quest of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, and “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” (1979), the story of a Jewish man born next door to Jesus Christ who is mistaken for the Messiah. Outside of Monty Python, each member also pursued a career in just about anything that required being silly for an audience.
They wrote and acted in TV shows, appeared in movies and performed on stage. Cleese’s own BBC sitcom, “Fawlty Towers”, holds the top spot on the British Film Institute’s TV 100 list.
It was with much excitement that UK news source The Sun announced on Tuesday that the surviving members of “Monty Python” will be doing a reunion performance at the O2 Arena in London on July 1, 2014. Rumors of a reunion began flying shortly after the group disbanded, but “Monty Python’s” performance in July will be its first with all remaining members since Chapman died of cancer in 1989.
In an effort to reconnect with fans and to spread word of the reunion, the Python boys took to Reddit Thursday morning to host what is known in the online community as an AMA, short for “ask me anything.” Essentially, an AMA is an online press conference in which the subject fields questions posted by Reddit users in the comment section of a specific thread. AMA subjects can vary from actors to scientists and musicians to journalists. Although they took questions for just 90 minutes, “Monty Python” drew a whopping 7,220 comments on their thread.
Reddit’s AMA’s have created a place where those doing important things in the world can have their accomplishments recognized and where anyone with an Internet connection has a fair chance to have their questions answered. It’s indicative of a future in which social media helps to close the gap between the public and the world of celebrity. In a well-executed move, “Monty Python” took advantage of this closing gap to reconnect with fans and gin up some publicity for their much-anticipated reunion.
Features Editor Nicholas Bradley is a College junior from Skillman, N.J.