Friday, June 12, 2009


Monty Python's Spamalot
Golden Gate Theatre, San Francisco
June 11, 2009

As an awkward teenager, Monty Python was one of the biggest influences on my young mind and it helped to create the awkward adult that I am today; Python's t.v. show, movies, and albums are sacred shit to me. I used to watch the t.v. episodes religiously when they were broadcast on the local PBS station and Life Of Brian (Bwian!!) was the first R-rated movie I ever saw in a theater (my Dad took me to see it for my birthday and all of the humor went over his head..).. and Monty Python & the Holy Grail was a fixture of the midnight movies at The Varsity Theatre (R.I.P.) when I was in high school and staying out late on weekends.

Inexplicably, I've been procrastinating about seeing Spamalot for the past 2 months that it's been playing in San Franfuckincisco. WTF, right? However, due to the recent all out media blitz about the show ending it's S.F. run in early July, I finally pulled the trigger and bought tickets... 11th row center seats, dude!

Even as Skychick and I approached the venue, I was completely geeking out.. I was so "aware" that I even recognized the music being played as the audience was being seated as the incidental music from the closing credits of Python's t.v. show. Also, the show's program had the look and feel of one of the vintage Monty Python books from the 70's with wacky layout and inside jokes (a quick glance at the credits says the program was written and edited by Eric Idle.. natch!).

(Pic by Umlaut)

The San Francisco production stars John O'Hurley, who was J. Peterman on Seinfeld, and features a cast of 24 other actors and an orchestra / band (of course). Basically, Spamalot is based on Monty Python & the Holy Grail, with the movie's key scenes acting as the storyline. However, Spamalot also reimagines some the movie's scenes, storyline, and even characters and adds other elements (and SONGS!) to create SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! Python humor + Python show tunes = FUCKING AMAZING!

I can safely say I've seen Holy Grail more times than any other movie; I'm one of those freaks who knows every line in every scene by heart. The way Spamalot takes these familiar scenes and makes them new again is unbelievably gobsmacking great! The Broadway musical version of Holy Grail's Camelot scene left me speechless and teary-eyed from laughing ("What happens in Camelot, stays in Camelot.."). Other scenes and musical numbers include "I Am Not Dead Yet", "Find Your Grail", "The French Castle" (!!) and "The Killer Rabbit" (!!!). BEYOND hilarious... and the opening scene (that is not from the movie) is so out of left field that I could practically hear half of the audience saying "What the fuck??" and the other half (like myself) having a huge Python Geek Moment.

The show also incorporates a few other famous Python bits (such as 'Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life'), but it was also hilarious how they subtly added references to pop culture and current events into the show, such as The Knights Who Say Ni briefly riffing on California's current budget crisis; unexpected and brilliant! I wonder what bits the show adds to the jokes in other cities for those local audiences?!

Normally, Umlaut is more likely to see Celine Dion or Swedish Death Metal than a Broadway musical. Seeing a stage production like this is such a rare thing for Umlaut that I was easily caught up in the live orchestra, the set changes, the costume changes, and the clever special effects. All I can say is Spamalot was better than most of the concerts I'll see this year! The ACTORS.. the MUSIC... the COSTUMES... the STAGE PRODUCTION... the SPECTACLE.. (cue deep GIRLY sigh)! This show is easily one of my top Music Geek Moments of the year.. and as the cast was taking their bows I said to Skychick "I WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN!!"

In a brilliant display of merch insight, they are selling officially licensed cans of Spamalot Spam! Brilliant!

If you bought one of every Spamalot merch item you would have paid around $300. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. Trivia: Iron Maiden plays 'Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life' after every concert as the houselights go up and the crowd leaves the show.