The Richmond Register

February 5, 2012

Monty Python is not dead … yet

Spamalot

By Bill Robinson
Senior News Writer

RICHMOND — If Monty Python’s “Spamalot” didn’t offend you, then you may have not been paying attention. Or, maybe you were laughing too hard to realize you had been offended.

“Spamalot,” a Broadway musical summary of the British comedy act’s movies and TV shows, played to a nearly packed house at EKU’s Center for the Arts on Friday night.

The mock medieval knights may have carried dull-pointed swords, but their wit was razor sharp and knew no mercy.

The play pokes fun at almost everyone and everything, even Broadway musicals.

From venerable legends such as King Arthur and his Knights of the Roundtable to God, and from fairytales to fairies, all came in for some ribbing.

God must have a sense of humor, or He wouldn’t have made monkeys or little boys, I once was told.

“Spamalot” could be called “the best of Monty Python,” because it recycles many of the comedy team’s most memorable lines and situations.

Quite a few in the audience had to be Monty Python fans. They were the ones who laughed at the jokes before the actors reached the punch lines.

Others had to hear the entire line, and some even had to wait an instant before they got the joke and began to laugh.

The jokes weren’t all reruns, however. Several contemporary jokes, all in the vein of Monty Python humor, are interspersed among the comedy team’s standards.

Early on, “Spamalot” recreates one of Monty Python’s best-known routines. It is a parody of the Black Death, one of Western Europe’s nearest brushes with annihilation.

In the movie version, a plague victim says, “I’m not dead yet,” before being hastened to his demise and then loaded onto a collection cart.

In “Spamalot,” he gets up and cavorts around the stage while singing, “I’m not dead yet.” He is joined by the cadavers on the cart who already were dead.

Even the Black Plague can be funny if its accompanied by song and dance.

King Arthur’s Camelot turns out to be a Las Vegas casino and his Round Table a neon roulette wheel.

After God sends Arthur and his knights on a quest for the Holy Grail, they find that the grail for both Guinevere and Sir Lancelot is a male in chain mail.

Lancelot answers when he gets a message requesting rescue from a forced marriage. However, what he thought was a damsel in distress turns out to be a guy named Hurbert. After they are married, Lancelot says, “In a thousand years, there will still be controversy.”

Comedy is probably the most difficult of theatrical arts, but the “Spamalot” cast makes it look easy, as only the most gifted entertainers can. It helps that they are superb singers and dancers as well as actors and comedians.

Many students regard history as the dreariest of subjects. But, they probably never watched Monty Python movies or TV shows, and they definitely were never lucky enough to attend a “Spamalot” performance.

The audience Friday night probably never realized they were being educated as well as entertained.

Bill Robinson can be reached at brobinson@richmondregister.com or at 624-6622.