Cut & paste from This is Bristol article
See why a Monty Python legend was on stage at Bristol's Colston Hall
Friday, January 22, 2010, 07:001
Something ALMOST Completely Different: Colston Hall
THE audience at the Slapstick Festival's opening Gala event packed into Colston Hall last night to witness comedy legend and national treasure Michael Palin take part in a star-studded evening of wonderful anecdotes and visual comedy.
Unfortunately, and by no fault of the organisers or splendid guests, the sound quality was pretty dire – so loud that it became distorted in places and you had to strain to understand.
It was a shame, because that was the only blight of an otherwise excellent night of classic comedy and live entertainment.
For the past six years, Bristol's Slapstick Festival has been introducing enthusiastic new audiences to often overlooked old films, heightening the pleasure by adding improvised musical accompaniments, newly composed scores, debates and insights.
This year's festival is broader than before, featuring those who became masters of visual comedy long after the advent of sound, making the much-loved Monty Python star the perfect guest to launch the festival. Throughout his career, he's been a master of the sight gag and telling facial expression from his first TV appearances to his travel documentaries.
Graeme Garden, the former Goodie who has worked with Palin over the years, introduced the international star and the two took us through a journey of Palin's influences and finest moments.
Asked about his earliest memories of going to the cinema, Palin joked: "Cinema in Sheffield in the 50s meant the projector breaking down.
"Actually, the people who made me laugh were Laurel and Hardy, Harold Lloyd, The Three Stooges – they were the staple diet of cinema in those days."
Years later it would be Palin making the people laugh.
He shared jokes and anecdotes about his illustrious career, from his first comedy performances at university to Do Not Adjust Your Set, The Frost Report and, of course, Monty Python's Flying Circus.
We were treated to numerous classic clips, from his early days in Do Not Adjust Your Set, featuring a very young David Jason, The Life of Brian, A Fish Called Wanda and numerous Python sketches, with The Spanish Inquisition and The Fish Slapping Dance garnering the biggest laughs from the appreciative audience.
As ever, Palin was witty, affable and endearing in equal measure.
At the end of the first half, one comedy star saluted another when comic and friend Neil Innes, Slapstick director Chris Daniels and Aardman Animations' Dave Sproxton presented Palin with a bespoke version of the Aardman claymation character Morph.
The morphed Morph, which had been created especially by model makers at Aardman's Oscars-winning Bristol studios, was given to Palin for "excellence in the field of hilarity" over more than four decades.
On screen, some of Michael's famous friends and colleagues paid tribute, including fellow Pythons Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, as well as Barry Cryer, Alan Bennett and Paul Whitehouse. Again, sound problems effected the quality of these warm and amusing tributes.
"I feel very, very honoured. The award is a real beauty and I'll treasure it," said Palin.
After the interval, the audience was presented with one of Buster Keaton's greatest comedies, The Navigator (1924) in homage to Palin's travelling legacy.
The film was accompanied by the world premiere of a live musical accompaniment by a newly formed five-piece musical ensemble featuring Oscar-winning film animator and cornet virtuoso Richard Williams and world-renowned silent film maestro Günter Buchwald on violin and piano. A fitting end to the evening.