How Monty Python’s Dead Parrot Went Live In Coventry

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How Monty Python’s Dead Parrot Went Live In Coventry

The dead parrot went live 50 years ago on Sunday when Monty Python made the leap from TV to public performance.

Until 31 January 1971, when the comedy troupe appeared in Coventry, people had only been able to watch on screen.

But the stage show meant that for the first time, silly walks, nudge-nudges and wink-winks could be enjoyed in the flesh – or in the case of a Norwegian blue, the feathers.

And that’s not to mention John Cleese selling ice cream in the interval.

A half-century later, an organiser has been recalling how those who would go on to be among the world’s most beloved comedy performers were lured to tread the boards.

In ’71, Colin Richardson was at the helm, with Ted Little, of local student event The Lanchester Arts Festival. And they decided to ask whether any of the Pythons would perform for them.

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What they ended up with at Belgrade Theatre was the whole Flying Circus. And at a time when the players were on the cusp of breaking America, where a decade later they would put on one of the most famous comedy performances of all time – Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl.

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Mr Richardson approached Eric Idle initially, and arranged a meeting at his flat where he hoped one or two of the other Pythons might be interested.

He said: “To my excitement, [Idle] said ‘your timing is perfect as we have been talking of the possibility of all doing something live on stage’.

“Their only conditions were that we got them the Belgrade Theatre and they did three shows. I have no recollection of a contract and seem to remember it was a peppercorn fee; it was not much.”

Eric Idle told the Leamington Courier in 2017 he was already aware of the Coventry theatre before the shows.

“It’s a great venue. I had the idea of putting Python on stage and I produced the script, selecting the sketches, and we did it at midnight for three nights and they went nuts,” he told the newspaper.

Tickets for the shows sold out within 20 minutes, Mr Richardson said, and for the first, Python performed to 1,100 fans.

How Monty Python’s Dead Parrot Went Live In Coventry

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