Michael Palin – Live on Stage (Lateral Events)
QPAC, Concert Hall
Englishman Michael Palin is many things – world traveller, actor, writer, TV presenter, comedian and all round top bloke, and his stage show certainly showcases all of these aspects in a jam packed 2+ hours of entertainment. Celebrating the publication of volume three of his written diaries, ‘Travelling to Work 1988-1998’, “Michael Palin – Live on Stage” is indeed a wonderful night of amusing anecdotes from this most interesting man.
Hosted by Australian funny man Adam Spencer (with genuine, infectious hearty laugh) the show begins with reminiscence of Palin’s childhood of playing cricket and trains, growing up in football-loving Sheffield with his non-dentist parents. There is also reflection of his global adventures, accompanied by a selection of photos and footage from his eight TV travel series documentaries (including to Australia) and some very amusing anecdotes of the characters, cuisines and toilets he has encountered along the way.
In the second half of the show, focus moves to his illustrious comic career, which began with his childhood love of “The Goon Show”. There is, of course, discussion of his famed role in Monty Python, including about their 2014 ten-night sold out show “Monty Python Live (Mostly)” at the 02 Arena in London. This is where the most interesting anecdotes appear as he tells Python stories such as of John Cleese randomly pushing Terry Jones over a wall into someone’s garden and Graham Chapman’s hotel antics. And it is somewhat comforting to hear that they were exactly as childishly eccentric as you expect them to be. Certainly, it is the Python stories that many audience members have come for and as he tells of the teacher inspiration for the Knights of Nee, initial BBC Executive reservations and the controversy surrounding “The Life of Brian”, he does not disappoint. There is even inclusion of a fish-slapping skit, Lumberjack Song performance and a bit of busty cross-dressing comedy, live on stage from the now 71 year old.
Both halves feature audience question-and-answer sections, which gives Palin an opportunity to showcase his quick witted one liners. Indeed, he is an affable man and a natural storyteller, which makes for a thoroughly enjoyable evening of self-effacing recollections and entertaining impressions. Between his travel and comedy tales, there is certainly something for everyone and it is easy to see how he has come to be recognised in the most extraordinary of places of exploration, even if it is sometimes as Eric Idle.