Thanks to the efforts of Monty Python fans, a new record was set this week for the world’s largest coconut orchestra. A group of over five thousand people gathered in Trafalgar Square in central London to perform a classic Monty Python song using only coconuts. Officials for the Guinness Book of World Records stood by to oversee the new record.
Monday’s coconut orchestra performed “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life,” which members of Monty Python first created as the upbeat finale to the surreal comedy film “Life Of Brian,” a religious spoof. On hand to play in the coconut orchestra were some original members of the Monty Python comedy team, including Terry Gilliam, the sole American member of the Pythons. The event was immediately followed by a public outdoor screening of “Holy Grail.” The massive undertaking broke the previous coconut orchestra record by a substantial margin, more than tripling the previous largest recorded number of coconut players.
The orchestra was led by the cast of, and creative team behind, the hit musical “Spamalot,” which is based on the Monty Python movie “Monty Python And The Holy Grail.” “Spamalot” has had successful runs both on Broadway and in London’s West End, and won three Tony awards, including a Best Featured Actress statuette for future “Grey’s Anatomy” star Sara Ramierez . Both “Holy Grail” and “Spamalot” feature medieval knights on horseback; in both works, clip-clopping coconut sounds stand in for horses.
The original members of Monty Python were John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Gilliam. The group first found success in 1969 with the first season of their BBC sketch show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” The Pythons then gained an international cult audience with their three feature films “Life of Brian,” “Holy Grail,” and “The Meaning of Life.” Several members of the Pythons later collaborated on projects including 1988’s hit comedy film “A Fish Called Wanda.” Many contemporary comedians have cited the group’s groundbreaking absurdist style as an influence, including cast members of Saturday Night Live.
The earlier record for the world’s largest coconut orchestra was set by Spamalot cast members and fans in New York City last March, when 1,789 people gathered to clap coconuts in unison.
The Guinness Book staffers on hand for the event included Craig Glenday, the current editor in chief of the Guinness Book of World Records. He told reporters that he was satisfied that Monday’s performance broke the previous record “by quite a sizable amount.”