The Monty Python crew said they were making a comeback at London's 20,000-seater O2 Arena "to see if we can fill it." In the unlikely event they didn't know the answer, the market provided it in under a minute.
Most of the sketches in "Monty Python's Flying Circus" lasted longer than the 43.5 seconds it took to sell 20,000 tickets for the remaining Pythons' first comeback stage show on July 1 next year.
The five surviving members of the troupe best known for the long-running BBC sketch show and three feature-length films had said they were intrigued to see whether they could still fill London's O2 Arena. Within an hour, they had sold out a total of five shows running until July 5, 2014, according to a spokesman for the group.
"It's totally amazing. I don't think we realized quite how much Python is loved round the world," Eric Idle, who is to direct the on-stage comeback, said.
"We look forward to paying off Terry Jones' mortgage soon," Idle added, in reference to his fellow former Python's quip when they announced their comeback last week.
The tickets were priced between 27.5 pounds (32.8 euros, $44.4) and 95 pounds, or, as Idle put it: "Only 300 pounds cheaper than the [Rolling] Stones."
The tickets reposted on scalping sites and other online resale platforms swiftly exceeded even the British rockers' prices, however, with one such German site offering prime seats in front of the stage for more than 1,000 euros per head.
'I have this terrible feeling of déjà vu'
Idle, Jones, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam and Graham Chapman rose to fame with four series of the "Flying Circus" on BBC television, aired between 1969 and 1974. The show was sold on to almost 100 countries around the world. It also spawned a German spinoff, comprising two 45-minute episodes, renamed "Monty Pythons Fliegender Zirkus." Some sketches, including The Lumberjack Song, were translated or adapted into German for the production.
Three feature-length films followed: "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" was set during the reign of King Arthur; "The Life of Brian" followed a man from Nazareth mistaken for a messiah; and "The Meaning of Life" was the group's last major collective project, completed in 1983. The performers proceeded to enjoy highly successful, if disparate, solo careers - in fields stretching from comedy to travel documentaries via film and stage directing.
The new show is called "one down, five to go" – in honor of Graham Chapman, who died of cancer in 1989.
The five remaining Pythons, who are now in their seventies, said in a recent press conference announcing their comeback that they would offer a mixture of old and new material in their comeback. John Cleese, who famously played the Minister for Silly Walks in a classic Flying Circus sketch, said that certain skits might no longer be possible with an artificial hip and knee.
The Pythons have not yet commented on whether they might perform outside London, or indeed Britain, as part of their return to the stage.
msh/ccp (AFP, dpa)