Monty Python

The Real History Of The Monty Python Musical ‘Spamalot’

Eric made sure he was too far into development for them to be able to turn him down.

For over 50 years, Monty Python has been considered one of the greatest comedy franchises ever made. Without a doubt, the wacky and creative antics of John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Graham Chapman have influenced countless of our favorite comic minds today. It’s doubtful that any of these UK-born talents thought that they would take the entire world by storm.

In North America, Saturday Night Live is the most successful sketch show, even though many stars have turned it down. It’s responsible for launching the careers of some incredibly successful stars such as Adam Sandler, Tina Fey, and Eddie Murphy. While SNL is responsible for many of the most popular stars on Earth, the show owes much of its success to Monty Python. After all, Monty Python predates it and really showed audiences how well sketch comedy can be executed.

But unlike SNL, Monty Python was constantly the same six guys with a few other recurring faces.

Together, these brilliant men went on to produce a number of works under the banner of their original sketch show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969 – 1974). This includes multiple TV specials all the way up to Monty Python’s Personal Best in 2006, a ton of different books, audio recordings, stage appearances and productions, computer games, documentaries, and six glorious films… one of which was turned into one of the most successful Broadway musicals of all time.

Five scenes from The Holy Grail to gear you up for Spamalot this weekend -  Little Village

Here’s how it really happened…

But unlike SNL, Monty Python was constantly the same six guys with a few other recurring faces.

Together, these brilliant men went on to produce a number of works under the banner of their original sketch show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969 – 1974). This includes multiple TV specials all the way up to Monty Python’s Personal Best in 2006, a ton of different books, audio recordings, stage appearances and productions, computer games, documentaries, and six glorious films… one of which was turned into one of the most successful Broadway musicals of all time.

Here’s how it really happened…

Turning Monty Python And The Holy Grail Into Spamalot

To many, there Terry Gilliam directed Monty Python And The Holy Grail is the best of the Python films. Certainly, one doesn’t need to be a die-hard fan of Monty Python to think it’s outrageously funny. The absurdist and genre-breaking take on the classic King Arthur and the Holy Grail myth is downright brilliant and is even rated as one of the 200 best films of all time, according to IMDB.

So, it made sense that the 1975 film would be the one they turned into their most famous stage production… However, it wasn’t until the 1990s that Eric Idle toyed with the idea. And by then, the comedy troupe had already lost one of its members, Graham Chapman.

In terms of developing a musical, Monty Python has always included a large number of songs in all of their works. The Monty Python And The Holy Grail movie already had the “Camelot song” (where the term ‘Spamalot’ was coined). But by the 1990s, Eric Idle thought musicals weren’t funny anymore.

According to the oral history of Monty Python by Vulture, Eric wasn’t a fan of the Andrew Lloyd Webber melodramas, which is why he approached comedy genius, Mel Brooks, about turning The Producers movie into a Broadway show… Mel actually turned Eric down but eventually decided to do it on his own… The producers went on to be one of the most successful Broadway musicals.

It was the crazy success of The Producers on Broadway that made Eric Idle want to take his hit film and make it into a Broadway musical.

However, he worked on the musical in secret…

Spamalot', el musical de los Monty Python, se convertirá en película | El  Correo

Eric Eventually Had To Tell The Other Monty Python Members… But He Prepared First

Before receiving any input from the notoriously competitive other members of the Monty Python troupe, Eric collaborated with a musical composer and even made demos for each of the songs. He did this in secret for a whopping two years.

Only after composing a number of pieces did he send it all over to John Cleese and the rest of the Monty Python troupe.

While the entire troupe adored the songs, they had major reservations about how the film would play out on stage.

However, Eric made sure he was too far into development for them to be able to turn him down…

It was very sneaky.

Ultimately, the quality of the songs, as well as their knowledge of the success of the original movie, convinced the entire Monty Python team to sign off on Spamalot.

The Success Of Spamalot Brought Trouble

Where Are They Now: The Original Cast of Broadway's Spamalot | Playbill

According to Vulture, the success of the Spamalot musical brought a ton of trouble for the comedy troupe. Although its achievements are undeniable.

Famed director Mike Nichols was the first to bring the show to life in 2005. The Tim Curry starring production won 14 Tony Awards including Best Musical. And during its official run, it was seen by over two million people and grossed an insane $175 million.

It has since toured around the world and had multiple revivals.

But because of the success of the Broadway musical, the Monty Python team was sued. According to Vulture, one of the producers of the Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie went after the comedy troupe claiming that he was owed a ton of royalties as well s merchandising revenue that was generated from the musical.

While the comedy troupe pushed back, claiming that the producer was overpaid, to begin with, the U.K. High Court ruled against them.

The Monty Python team was forced to pay the producer $1.2 million. This forced them to try and earn more cash by playing a number of shows after 2012.

While troubles came with Spamalot, there’s no denying its cultural impact and its outrageous success.

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