Monday, May 16, 2005

Spam Tonys?

Here’s a new entry I wanted to put on my blog today (Sunday, May 15, 2005), but Blogger warned that the system would be down for maintenance just during the time I was thinking about it. Ohhhh . . . I didn't see that their notice was posted on May 13th.) So it's not showing up until the 16th.

Sometime during the past week, my cutworm brain subliminally osmosed the (fact? fiction?) that Eric Idle’s recently opened Broadway show, Spamalot, is up for Tony Awards. Fans and nay-sayers alike will recognize Idle’s as among the names of the classic Monty Python comedy troupe. Spamalot is an attempt at staging the inimitable cult film Monty Python and The Holy Grail.

Since I AM of MY generation—a woman of a certain age, and it’s not entirely flattering—I’ve long been one of those who fell full prey to Python at college age and who has dearly loved it for many years. The literary, political, philosophical and cultural jabs simply haven’t gotten old yet, and even if they are, I still find them funny. People get tired of my parroting (no pun intended, for those who know the sketch) whole scenes from Holy Grail and lines from skits such as “Oh, intercourse the penguin!” and “that was never five minutes just now!” (Argument Clinic). Or “Cheese Shop.” Or, like Chairman Mao, “Uh, ‘Sing, Little Birdie?” Or Karl Marx, “Uh, the workers control the means of production?” parody of intellectual quiz show. Or “Flying Sheep.” Or, the “Cat Detector Van,” parody of the Television License detector van, able to pinpoint a purr at . . . what was the distance? : “And Eric, bein’ such a happy cat, was a piece of cake.” And the songs “Dennis Moore” and “Eric the Half-a-Bee.” Or wending my way through the house like a promising candidate for The Ministry of Silly Walks. My elder son is much sillier at it now than I will ever be. Perhaps it’s a male genetic trait. It’s hard for me not to burst into song with “Ev-er-y Sperm is Sa-cred” or “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” at utterly inappropriate moments.

So my reaction to the Tony nomination news came at great surprise to myself. “Whattt??!!” Gimme a break. Sure, I value the original movie and I’m loyal to Python to the max. I even greatly enjoy stars Tim Curry (always Frank N Furter—“let’s go down to the llllehb and see what’s on the sllllehb!”) and the adorably nerdy David Hyde Pierce. You go, boys. But think how many struggling writers with new dramatic (and comedic) voices go starving, while a ubiquitous standard gets pulled out of the mothballs and dusted off in a “new” stage regurgitation for the masses. Sorry, but I don’t think I want to shell out as little as $80—probably much more—to watch it.

No, I haven’t seen it and may well not know what I’m talking about. Bite me. JM(possiblyuninformed)HO. Yes, I realize that Broadway audiences have gagged for years on old material and reruns—Annie, Cats, you name it, yawn. It’s sad to see when much more risky and interesting things like Dr. Seuss’s The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, a brilliant story made into a “failed” movie in 1953 (it’s actually AWESOME) and WAY ahead of its time even now, hardly made a blip on the radar screen when it (supposedly?) went on stage a couple of years ago. [An aside: Oh, DO find a copy of this film (available via and amazon) and invite friends over to see it. Not just the kids, but all of you will be changed people. It's truly bizarre and utterly endearing.]


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