published Monday, January 30th, 2012

Off the Couch: ‘Spamalot’ sizzles for fans of Python

BARRY COURTER: Lisa, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam ... feel free to sing along if you know the words. Spam, Spam ...

LISA DENTON: Silence, foul temptress.

You know I’m kidding. Any song sung by Monty Python’s Flying Circus — or Vikings, for that matter — is a hit with me. It’s not my favorite ditty of theirs, but I probably shouldn’t mention the one I prefer.

BARRY: I know the one, and it is funny. Rude, but funny. In the interest of full disclosure, I spent my teen years in full Monty Python geek mode and can likely still recite nearly every line from “The Life of Brian” and “The Holy Grail.”

That’s why I am kind of excited that “Spamalot” is at Memorial Auditorium on Thursday. Just thinking of the French taunter threatening to “blow my nose on you, so-called Arthur-king, you and your silly English k...kaniggets” makes me laugh.

For this show, I understand the production team has a special cow that they launch over the castle wall for that scene during the show.

LISA: For all its bawdiness, “Spamalot” won the 2005 Tony Award for Best Musical. For the uninitiated, it’s an adaptation of the 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” which is the demented retelling of the King Arthur legend. Besides the flying cows and taunting Frenchmen, it has dancing chorus girls, killer rabbits and, of course, the coconut shell horses. What more could you ask in a stage show?

BARRY: That rabbit’s dynamite.

Python member Eric Idle wrote the thing almost on a dare from the other members, who predicted it would fail miserably. Of course, getting Mike Nichols to direct the original helped.

The title, because I’m sure you were wondering, comes from the line “we eat ham and jam and Spam a lot.” It also rhymes with the line “I have to push the pram a lot” from the “Camelot” scene in the movie.

See, I know way too much about such silly stuff. Can’t balance a checkbook, but I’m pretty sure I can get through every line of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” which is from “Life of Brian” but gets worked into “Spamalot.”

LISA: Well, you have to know these sorts of things when you’re a king, you know ...

BARRY: Right.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

about Lisa Denton...

Lisa Denton is deputy features editor and content editor of Current. She previously was a lifestyle, entertainment and region reporter/pod leader for The Chattanooga Times, which she joined in 1983. Lisa is from Sale Creek and holds an associate’s degree in journalism from Chattanooga State Community College. Contact Lisa at 423-757-6281 or

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