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Monty Python's Flying Circus - General Discussion

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The show that helped prove to the rest of the world that the British weren't total tightasses!

The show that launched 10,000 PBS pledge drives in America!

The show that proved that Hawaiians weren't the only people who ate Spam.

Python Trivia:  Because of Python everyone thinks of the theme song as essentially British. But its NOT.  It's the John Philip Sousa song, "Liberty Bell", as so is about as American as can be.  Why was it used?  It was free.  No royalties.

Python Trivia.II:  Of course Terry Gilliam is the other American "thing" about Python. A lot of people think that ALL he did was the animations (or later in the movies, the directing).  For the most part that's true, he was only in a few rare skits and usually in little speaking/non-speaking roles nobody else wanted, but there was one big exception.  Gilliam was the notorious Cardinal Fang.

Python Trivia III: There is of course now an official reunion tour.  Not sure I PERSONALLY want to see the same old skits (no new material, they've said) done by really old men, but apparently a lot of people want to.  Me, I'll wear out my DVDs of the original show and movies, because they're THAT great.

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Love the show.  Almost beyond reason.  Hate the idea of super-old versions of them doing the same things.

Discuss the reunion tour.  If you disagree with me, pitch a good argument for it.  If not, commiserate with me.

Warwick Davis being the best part of this should send a sign.  


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Heh.  In honour, you even spelled it favourite!

I have many, and I fear they are all predictable.  I have to think on it to summon one that's a rarer jewel.

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Well I am Canadian: It's British Light!

Well except when it's French Light.

Speaking of Canadians...



Yes, as I warned some of the faves will be totally predictable.  But you led me right TO this one.

Edited by Kromm
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Oh, man.  SO many.  Off the top of my head:

--Argument Clinic

--The Bishop!

and a really obscure tag at the end of one of their (maligned) Season 4 episodes: "Conjuring Today!"  



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And now for something completely different: I will pick my favorite from the unsung Python, Carol Cleveland.  "Scott of the Antarctic" had her play ditzy starlet Vanilla Hoare in a strange adaptation of the Scott exploration.  From montypython.net, here is her reaction to having to act OUT of a trench:

Evans: Look, you crumb bum, I'm a star. Star, star, star. I don't get a million dollars to act out of a trench. I played Miss St John the Baptist in a trench, (she walks along in the trench and we see that she has two boxes strapped to her feet) and I played Miss Napoleon Bonaparte in a trench, and I played Miss Alexander Fleming in a furrow so if you want this scene played out of a trench, well you just get yourself a goddamn stuntman. (walks off) I played Miss Galileo in a groove and I played Mrs Jesus Christ in a geological syncline, so don't...


Makes me laugh every time.  As for favorite overall episode?  Season 2, episode 1.  Silly walks and the Pirahna Brothers.

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Neither Mr. Shrdlu nor I can mention to the other that something is a little runny without launching into the whole "I don't care HOW fucking runny it is! Hand it over with all speed!" "Oh... the cat's eaten it." "Has he?" "She sir." (Cheese shop). And god forbid we hear someone playing a bouzouki. (Shut that bloody bouzouki up!)

I also order "bleedin' Watney's Red Barrel" at our local "English-style" pub, in honor of that Travel Agent sketch with Eric Idle's epic monologue:

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I've heard (I haven't tracked them down to read them though) that the reviews have been brutal.


Not that I wasn't expecting it.  Old is old.  These are lovely guys with a great legacy, but in a case where not only THEY are old, but the material all is as well?  Disaster. The recordings from the original shows are always available to us, and that should have been enough.  I would have respected if they maybe tried something NEW under the Python name--it's THEIR name after all--but it just seemed lame to do the same old shit, with ancient bodies in place of the original ones.

To be clear I think comedy from people their age is perfectly possible.  But not where there's such a strong mental image of them doing the SAME routines so long ago.  It's the same reasoning I use with never bothering to watch a current Rolling Stones performance.

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I saw the live cast of the final show today and just loved it! The guys looked like they were having a blast.

And aw, they added a line to the Dead Parrot sketch - the parrot has gone on to meet Dr Chapman.

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I was at one of the cinema live broadcasts and I nearly laughed myself silly in places. 


The guys did look like they were enjoying themselves - even or maybe especially when they flubbed a line or two. 


I'd say pretty near everybody in the cinema was singing along for the 'spontaneous' encore (as well as many of the other songs)


Well worth the money, IMO.

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I'm really glad they did it -  one last hurrah.  Not that I think they will die soon but I think the logistics of getting them all together again is probably difficult since they are all so busy.

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"That's a strange expression, Bruce."


"I heard the prime minister use it. 'Hot enough to boil a monkey's bum, Your Majesty,' he said, and she just smiled quietly to herself."


"She's a good sheila, Bruce, and not at all stuck up."

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I used to be able to reproduce the entire "Crunchy Frog" sketch from memory, complete with simulated Cleese and Jones voices & accents. Then my voice changed at puberty, and I couldn't quite manage to hit Cleese's high notes anymore ("Lark's vomit?!")

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I was in a very serious meeting recently and someone said something that made me think of "The Visitors" and I spent the rest of the meeting just trying to suppress laughter, akin to the church giggles.

I still can't remember what the trigger was. Certainly nobody called anyone "you great poof", or asked for three cans of beans, or brought a goat. It will remain a mystery.....

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I had a Crunchy Frog reference in the personal ad that led to meeting my husband.

The Hungarian in a Tobacconist Shop is one of my all-time fave's:  My nipples explode with delight!  Another is the soccer game between Greek and German philosophers:  Eureka!

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A combination of sly social commentary and sheer absurdity: The Fire Brigade sketch -

"Hello, hello, operator? Yes we're trying to get the fire brigade ... No, the fire brigade. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, what? ... (looks in his shoe) Size eight. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, no of course not, Yes..."

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I've been reading John Cleese's unauthorized autobiography Cleese Encounters. Here's a few trivia bits about him:

  1. His family name was originally Cheese. His father changed it before entering the army in 1915 to avoid being the butt of jokes. This was probably a good thing, because his closest friend in prep school was named Butter.
  2. Relating to #1 - When travelling, he sometimes uses Cheese, or the word for cheese in the local language (Frommage, Käse, etc), to make reservations in restaurants.
  3. He worked for Newsweek for a short time while he was living in New York. He was part of the stable of writers who turn out short news articles.
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Another Cleese related tidbit - There have been four attempts to make American shows based on Fawlty Towers:

  • Chateau Snavely, with Harvey Korman and Betty White, was shot as a pilot for ABC, but never picked up.
  • Amanda's, with Bea Arthur, wrote out the Basil Fawlty character completely (!), and was cancelled after 10 episodes.
  • Over the Top starred Tim Curry and Annie Potts. It lasted for 3 episodes.
  • Payne starred and was produced by John Larroquette. It was meant to be a straight remake, and had Cleese's blessing. It was cancelled after 9 episodes.
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Yesterday I found myself at a stoplight behind a Kia Sorento, and immediately busted out with "Quite right - you don't want to come back from Sorrento to a dead cat", complete with falsetto voice. Then I had to go back to the beginning and do the whole sketch (the version from one of the albums) from memory. With falsetto voices and accents. Good thing I had the windows rolled up, I guess. Kind of impressive, considering that I haven't listened to that particular record in over 20 years.

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Not a sketch, but a poem nestled away in a corner of Monty Python's Big Red Book (Hardcover Edition) where readers might never even notice it. BTW, the book is medium size, blue, and softcover:

"Port Shoem", by the Speverend Rooner



I've a gouse and harden in the country

An ace I call my plown

A treat I can replace to

When I beed to knee alone

Catterfly and butterpillar

Perch on beefy lough

And I listen to the dats and cogs

As they mark and they biaow

Yes wature here is nunderful

There is no weed for nords

While silling by my windoflutter

Biny little tirds


It's better if you read it out loud.

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I see they recently put this on Netflix, along with Life of Brian.  I hadn't seen the series on TV for awhile now.  So far I've watched the first two episodes (again), and I was really struck by how good the first episode is.  It includes two of my favorites, Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson, and the more mainstream Funniest Joke in the World.

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I started rewatching the series. 'Owl Stretching Time' with the consistent 'It's a Man's Life' was the first episode of Monty Python I ever saw... waaaaay back in the 80s. And it still makes me laugh. The Fresh Fruit and Lemming of the BDA in particular those are hilarious.

Edited by Dandesun
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I finished watching all the episodes now (again).  I don't know how many times I must have seen them going back to the 70s.  Anyway, a few impressions:

There are several incidents of blackface and what would be considered offensive African accents today.  It's doubtful those scenes would get made today, in fact I'm almost surprised they haven't censored them out (not that I'm in favor of that).  I've read some commentary that the Pythons also didn't know what to do with women, treating them mostly as bimbos and eye candy.  It's hard to argue with that.

You can see that John Cleese was right when he said the series was running out of steam by the third season, it's noticeably more tired than the previous two (Cleese actually thought they were repeating themselves in season two).  The somewhat experimental season four has its moments, but is still interesting in spite of itself.

Two of the sketches I really liked back in the day were the Upper Class Twit of the Year and Argument Sketch (they used to play that on the old Dr. Demento radio show, along with Spam).

Other favorites:  Cheese Shop Sketch, Dennis Moore, How Not to Be Seen, and too many others to mention.

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And then of course there was the Funeral Parlor Sketch:



"She looks quite young."

"Yes. She was."

(Aside to someone in the back room) "Fred! I think we've got an eater!"

(From the back room) "Right, I'll get the oven on."


My eight year old self nearly expired from excessive mirth the first time I saw that.

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