John Cleese, Eric Idle live in Auckland

John Cleese, Eric Idle live in Auckland

When I first found out John Cleese and Eric Idle were bound for New Zealand, I was watching the 6pm news with my dad. I remember it distinctly, because when I looked over at him to gauge a reaction his face was lit up with a wonderful, child-like joy.

I'd always known he was a Monty Python fan -- we watched their material to death throughout my childhood -- but I didn't know so many others would be in the same boat. Especially since only two of the original six members were going to be in the country.

Sure enough, on a muggy, wet and windy Thursday night, the Civic Theatre in Auckland was packed.

The show is titled John Cleese and Eric Idle: Together Again At Last... For The Very First Time, and it is as much a reflective look through the Monty Python portfolio of comedy as it is a glimpse into how the group came to be.

The two spoke candidly about their lucky breaks in show business and the development of their own individual humour, before delving into the familiar and taking on old popular characters from the past.

In the first half of the two-hour extravaganza, Cleese and Idle re-enacted the undertaker sketch and the memory school sketch -- both showing that age is no boundary when it comes to true showmanship.

After a 20-minute intermission, they each performed a small solo stint. Cleese spoke about the development of the dark humour he is known for, almost psychoanalysing himself and perhaps justifying his occasionally gruff demeanour. He also looked at what it means to be a professional comedian and what it takes to get him laughing.

Cleese rolled out an analogy he’s used before, saying an average audience member will laugh at an actor dressed up as an old lady pretending to fall down a drain, but it that it would take an actual old lady to fall down a drain to make a professional comedian laugh.

Following on from Cleese, the ever-youthful Idle waltzed on with his guitar in hand. The writer, actor and singer prefaced his solo performance with a disclaimer, declaring all his songs “are dirty” before delving into why he “f**king hates” selfies and the historical masterpiece ‘Eric the Half-a-Bee’.

The two ended the show by answering audience questions about the Python group, and then finally singing ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ in tribute to Graham Chapman.

Despite it being around 46 years since the group officially formed, their humour has stood the test of time. These two are bona fide stalwarts of British comedy, and it’s clear to see they love what they do.

It's certainly not about keeping the cash flowing so that Idle can keep his wife happy, and so Cleese can afford to pay for sex -- their words, not mine.