OK so I don’t really like the canned meat product. But the touring production of Monty Python’s Spamalot was sure tasty. Taking its cue from the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, this show delivered some of the classic humor any child of the 70s remembers. That was expected.
What wasn’t expected was the savvy send-up of Broadway musicals. Monty Python irreverence was used to make fun of just about everyone and everything on Broadway. No one can a make a mean joke like the Monty Python crew. And the reason those sometimes cruel jokes work so well is that we never question the intention—we somehow know that each and every comic dagger is thrown with a little affection.
The Broadway parodies begin early with the appearance of the leading lady, The Lady of the Lake. She represents a musical theater mash up of divas from Cats, to Phantom, to Beauty and the Beast, and to just about any other Broadway diva you can name. The fun continues when we discover that “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway” if you haven’t any Jews. And Sir Lancelot comes out of the closet in a flashy, gay spectacle.
Don’t get me wrong. I like many of the shows that Spamalot skewers. But they can be sappy, and predictable, and just downright stupid—giving the Monty Python crew plenty to lambast. But hidden within the comic critique, as with most Monty Python satire, is a hint of love; a sense that the creators may harbor a soft spot for the sappiness, the predictability, and even the stupidity that is sometimes Broadway.