Hello. I am an historian. I really am. I have a degree and everything. A lot of people who are not historians have said Spamalot isn’t the world’s oldest musical; that this claim was made up just to fill a couple of pages on a pretty thin
website. Well, frankly, bollocks. This claim is as real as I am.
Evidence for the existence of Spamalot goes back to the Dark Ages. First recorded in the annals of Blackfriars Monastery by Thelonius Monk in 932AD and recently reissued in digitally remastered deluxe collector’s edition, Spamalot was considered for centuries to be an immutable, indeed sacred text.
Following the cataclysmic events of the Reformation, Henry VIII ordered the infamous French Taunter scene to be rewritten to provide ammunition for his personal vendetta against Rome. And so in the Authorised King Henry VIII version (with full colour illustrations) the elderberries and hamster of yesteryear became:
“Your mother was a virgin and your father smelt of transubstantiated yeast”
The 17th century was ushered in with several re-writes of key scenes. Principle amongst which was the culling of the popular witch burning scene at the insistence of the Witch-Finder General combined with a worldwide shortage of faggots. Viewed in the short term as an artistic compromise this proved in the end to be a financial lifeline for the production, since it was now no longer necessary to rebuild the theatre after every performance. Though audiences did now complain about the lack of heating.
The twelve years from 1760-72 proved lean for Spamalot as the Window Tax introduced one hundred years earlier was extended to include doors. Whilst the intention had been to close down the loophole surrounding partially glazed mullions, the effect on the production’s finances proved fatal as audiences were now unable to find a way into the theatre. Similarly unable to find a way out of the building, the resident company of the time, led by renowned actor/manager Titus Fitznicely, starved to death.
Advances in surgery towards the late 1780s led to major changes in the infamous Black Knight scene. In place of the rudimentary cut and thrust amputations which had characterised the show since the Dark Ages, it was decided to update the show to reflect modern surgical techniques. These included cupping, blood letting and trepanning. Legend has it that the Prince Regent was a regular visitor to the theatre at the time; enjoying both the hilarity on stage and the refreshing enemas administered during the interval.
Disaster struck in 1820 as fire swept through the Palace Theatre, destroying everything. For the next thirty years Spamalot set up temporary residence at Tyburn, providing a popular support act for various public hangings.