John Cleese showed up on Saturday’s red carpet for “Jersey Boys,” just some weeks after news came out that the Monty Python musical, “Spamalot,” will be closing in July at the Wynn. But Cleese, my favorite Python, didn’t know it was shutting.
He insisted it’s doing fine, insinuating that it’s not expiring, going to meet its maker, bereft of life, pushing up the daisies, kicking the bucket or shuffling off its mortal coil.
I asked him if Python is planning a grand closing for “Spamalot.”
“Oh, you mean when it closes on Broadway? I don’t know,” he said. “There’s no plans, certainly. Eric [Idle] was wondering about us all turning out to some anniversary in London. But the problem is we’re all scattered all over the globe. [Michael] Palin never stops traveling. [Terry] Gilliam is always somewhere like Prague making movies. Terry Jones — last time I heard of him — was seriously directing an opera in Lisbon about household machinery. And I’m up in Santa Barbara, you know, way out of L.A., thank God. So I don’t think you’d ever – it’s about getting those five little silver balls in the same hole at the same time. It’s just too difficult. And although it’s lovely people go on liking Python, we’re all a little more interested in trying something new. Because that’s why you do something creative. It’s not to keep repeating.”
I said, no, I was talking about a grand closing for the Vegas show. He said he wasn’t worried about it closing.
“I’m told everything is in a little bit of trouble here. I’m told some people who come to Vegas don’t want to see a theater show. They’re not in that frame of mind. But I think of all the shows in Vegas, we’re running fourth. So we’re right at the top.”
At this point, Cleese had convinced me I was crazy and bid farewell. It was as if he were saying, “Now stand aside, worthy adversary.”
But no, it’s closing. Cleese didn’t have anything to do with staging the show, anyway. It was written and guided by Idle. I read somewhere Cleese had to be talked into putting his stamp on “Spamalot,” since he’s not into returning to Python work.
“Yeah, that’s right,” he said. “And in the end I think ‘Spamalot’ turned out splendidly. It’s had a tremendous run. I defy anyone to go and not have a really fun evening. It’s the silliest thing I’ve ever seen and I think Eric did a great job.”
I also asked him if he would be willing to provide the “voice of God” for other Vegas shows as he did in a prerecorded bit for the departing Python musical.
“Oh yeah, I’ll do it any time. It’s $5,000 a year. It’s not a fortune to be God.”