John Cleese and Eric Idle Come to Tucson
Those who know me, know I’m a major fan of Monty Python. In the Spring, we found out John Cleese, and Eric Idle were invading, sorry, coming to perform in the Old Pueblo, what we call Tucson.
We bought our tickets immediately. I’d seen Eric Idle back in 2002 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey. I was in the balcony, anyone in the orchestra was fair game too for Eric to pull them out of the audience and on stage. Newark’s incumbent mayor was a man named Sharpe James. He was being challenged by someone many Americans have heard of, Senator Cory Booker.
It was something to look forward to, with the crazy 2016 year. Our crazy election year and in the United Kingdom, Brexit.
November 22nd is an inauspicious day in the United States, for those who are history buffs. The day of the JFK Assassination. I digress, though.
Well, they were coming here from Mesa, Arizona. Not Phoenix, Mesa, still in Maricopa County, though.
This is important because Phoenix comes up. Hey, I don’t know what wisecracks about Tucson they may have made, but that’s an aside. As I stated, Mesa, is still Maricopa County, home of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department and soon-to-be ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Foreigners? They were lucky to escape tents and pink underwear, though Sheriff Joe was defeated in the election.
They were able to escape down Interstate 10 to Tucson. To the best of my knowledge, Sheriff Joe doesn’t have warrants out for them. They made it on the Butterfield Stage past the Apaches, sorry that would be Tombstone. I’m waiting for the Graham Chapman letter Dear Sir, silly just silly! Sorry, I’m a writer, I have my flights of fancy.
We went with my childhood friend Lizzie Svenson, to the performance. The venue? Centennial Hall on the University of Arizona campus.
Centennial Hall is by the Main Gate of the University, and in front on University Blvd. is Main Gate Square with shops and restaurants. It’s fun to be down there, especially with the Streetcar going through.
After dinner, we walked to the hall. I know there were tickets available, but when all were seated, not many.
We were seated in the orchestra near the back, but dead center. The crowd was older, old enough to remember Monty Python Some were dressed fairly formally for Tucson others in the usual Tucson outfit of jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers. Two guys behind us were dressed as the Gumbys. There was a screen on stage where some of the skits were shown and that included the Gumbys.
First skits were shown, then the audience had their legs pulled by an announcement, that the show would be delayed, while the performers ran out to get alcohol and drugs. Why am I not surprised? I thought with a laugh.
There were two chairs on stage, wide red, very comfortable looking chairs. I thought the Comfy Chairs of the Spanish Inquisition skit. We knew which chair would be Eric’s; it had the guitar next to it.
They finally came out on stage. I’d never seen John Cleese live before, and forgot how tall he is. This is Tucson and our great University of Arizona basketball team. Where are Lute Olson and Sean Miller, when you need them? McKale Center is just across campus; you can walk it, John.
What made the evening fun, was not just skits, but the history and the asides. They talked about working with David Frost pre-Python. The play ended in New York stranding John Cleese. See, no matter what we do, will no one, but no one rid us of this meddlesome Cleese? Yes, I’m playing with the English Language. I’m not as good as Winston Churchill, my hero and the master of the English Language.
Yes, John Cleese keeps turning up in this country. I found out there is a special Python Visa. Someone in the State Department had a sense of humor, and I don’t think it was John Kerry. Eric Idle lives in our fair country. He’s on the tour to make sure John has an escort.
I enjoyed the Fish Dance skit when John explained how the water dropped in the lock. Michael Palin is always a good guy. In Arizona though, they would have had to do it on the imported London Bridge at Lake Havasu. How many times would Michael Palin have to be dropped into the lake?
(Thanks to London Bridge, Lake Havasu is the second biggest tourist attraction in Arizona, after the Grand Canyon. As the comment in the Holy Grail about Camelot being just a model, the Grand Canyon is just a giant sinkhole.
There I said it. What’s wrong with Tucson? We have Mission San Xavier. We have casinos, the Congress Hotel; John Dillinger was captured in. Is it our fault Indiana let him go again? We have the University, shops, museums, and a new sleek streetcar).
Enough about the fish dance, we are in a desert. Spiny Norman here would not be a hedgehog but a cactus, OUCH! Jumping Cholla are no joke. You can get all stuck up here and needled.
Then the beginnings. They showed their college at Cambridge, only they called it Trump University and stated they majored in fraud. Their first dig at our President-Elect.
OK, who brought us Brexit? I shouldn’t laugh; Nigel Farage may really be presenting his credentials to President Trump.
Ah, the bookstore skit. They took a swipe at Phoenix and their ability to read. They have a newspaper, the Arizona Republic. We have the Arizona Daily Star, so there!
Then came Bring Out Your Dead. Oh just hit him over the head and be done with it. Leading to the Brain Specialist. Yes, the Gumbys behind us in Row Z.
The Undertaker sketch. Plenty of desert washes to throw up in.
Yes, and the wisecrack, Tucson will be a nice city when they finish it. Hey, it’s a work in progress. So what if Stone Avenue looks as though a giant mole burrowed its way through. Like the Norwegian Blue plumage, we have a bright blue streetcar. Of course, we are building. We’re Americans, always pushing and pushy.
Ah yes, the Guards scene from the Holy Grail. Two days later, Thanksgiving Night I watched Father Ted. Ted talks to Dougal, like talking to the guards all the time. Like talking to a wall.
Of course Life of Brian. Crucifixion. Yes, out to the left, one cross each. As though you would want two.
I enjoyed the discussion of how they came up with ideas for the movies. A Fish Called Wanda. A steamroller, Italian, and Russian. The things stories are built around. Or Life of Brian. Jesus Christ Superstar, or Meaning of Life.
I enjoyed the bit about the front row in Winnipeg dressed as caterpillars. You told us not to bolt for the border. Oh, you meant THAT border. When we hear border, we think the one with Mexico and the one with Casa Grande, which is to us as Hadrian’s Wall is to England. Our wall is just in our minds; We know we are driving in Maricopa County when the quality of the roads improves.
The songs, of course, were great. Words were up on the screen. None of us needed them.
Thanks for coming, gentlemen. Now you can write a book about the tour, or I can write it, and you can come back for the Tucson Festival of Books. We have it every March at the University of Arizona. No excuses, you know how to get here now.