Theme Times – Monty Python

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Monty Python – Flying Circus by BBC

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Monty Python (also collectively known as the Pythons) were a British surreal comedy group who created their sketch comedy show Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which first aired on the BBC in 1969. Forty-five episodes were made over four series. The Python phenomenon developed from the television series into something larger in scope and impact, including touring stage shows, films, numerous albums, several books, and musicals. The Pythons’ influence on comedy has been compared to the Beatles’ influence on music. Their sketch show has been referred to as “not only one of the more enduring icons of 1970s British popular culture, but also an important moment in the evolution of television comedy”.

Broadcast by the BBC between 1969 and 1974, Monty Python’s Flying Circus was conceived, written, and performed by its members Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Loosely structured as a sketch show, but with an innovative stream-of-consciousness approach, aided by Gilliam’s animation, it pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable in style and content. A self-contained comedy team responsible for both writing and performing their work, the Pythons had creative control which allowed them to experiment with form and content, discarding rules of television comedy. Following their television work, they began making films, which include Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Life of Brian (1979) and The Meaning of Life (1983). Their influence on British comedy has been apparent for years, while in North America, it has coloured the work of cult performers from the early editions of Saturday Night Live through to more recent absurdist trends in television comedy. “Pythonesque” has entered the English lexicon as a result.

In a 2005 poll of over 300 comics, comedy writers, producers and directors throughout the English-speaking world to find “The Comedian’s Comedian”, three of the six Pythons members were voted to be among the top 50 greatest comedians ever: Cleese at No. 2, Idle at No. 21, and Palin at No. 30.

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Monty Python

Theme Times  … Monty Python dedicated to Angie of King Ben’s Grandma and Gary of Bereaved Single Dad 

It took me a very long time to actually appreciate Monty Python’s Flying Circus. I only became aware of them when l returned to England from Australia and l simply couldn’t get it.

Of the Python crew there are only a few l found funny, and unlike many other fans who found/find John Cleese funny, l am not specifically one of them. I like him as an actor, but l don’t particularly find him funny. I didn’t really truly understand what my father found funny about the Pthon’s Flying Circus. It was only after watching some of the films that l appreciated their humour, but l still didn’t find john Cleese that funny.

How does one pick humour here? I ask myself …. well l guess we will have to see – how we progress.

Monty Python made five films, which is the best? I have listed the five in my favourite positions. you can let me know below in the comments section what your favourites were.

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1 – Monty Python and the Holy Grail – 1975

A comedic send-up of the grim circumstances of the Middle Ages as told through the story of King Arthur and framed by a modern-day murder investigation. When the mythical king of the Britons leads his knights on a quest for the Holy Grail, they face a wide array of horrors, including a persistent Black Knight, a three-headed giant, a cadre of shrubbery-challenged knights, the perilous Castle Anthrax, a killer rabbit, a house of virgins, and a handful of rude Frenchmen.

2 – And Now for Something Completely Different – 1971

More than 40 skits, animated shorts and interludes are included in this big-screen incarnation of the popular British television program “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” The narrator (John Cleese) guides the audience through absurd segments about such diverse subjects as cannibal babies, killer cats and dead parrots. Although the skits were originally produced for television, the film contains alternate versions that were remade without a studio audience.

3 – Monty Python’s Life of Brian – 1979

Brian Cohen (Graham Chapman) is an average young Jewish man, but through a series of ridiculous events, he gains a reputation as the Messiah. When he’s not dodging his followers or being scolded by his shrill mother (Terry Jones), the hapless Brian has to contend with the pompous Pontius Pilate (Michael Palin) and acronym-obsessed members of a separatist movement. Rife with Monty Python’s signature absurdity, the tale finds Brian’s life paralleling Biblical lore, albeit with many more laughs.

4 – Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life – 1983

The stages of life are told through multiple sketches and songs by the British comedy troupe. The seven parts of life cover birth, growing up, war, middle age, organ transplants, old age and death. Not all stages are singular: “Part I: The Miracle of Birth” is from the perspective of an ignored woman in labor, and of a Roman Catholic couple with too many children, and “Part VII: Death” encompasses a funeral and heaven. Added are three unrelated skits placed in the beginning, middle and end.

5 – The Crimson Permanent Assurance – 1983

The Crimson Permanent Assurance is a 1983 swashbuckling comedy short film that plays as the beginning of the feature-length motion picture Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.

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Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl – 1982

New and classic sketches and songs by the British comedy troupe are performed at the Hollywood Bowl. Two short films from the 1972 special “Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus” are also added. The series of sketches and songs parodies such mundane subjects as musical numbers, fairy tales, philosophers, conversations and masculinity. Performances include “The Last Supper,” “Silly Olympics,” “Bishop on the Landing,” “The Lumberjack Song” and “Four Yorkshiremen.”

Python Night – 30 Years of Monty Python – 1999

Python Night was an evening of Monty Python-related programmes broadcast on BBC2 on 9 October 1999, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first broadcast of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. It featured newly written sketches, three documentaries and a screening of Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

Monty Python Live (Mostly) – 2014

Monty Python Flying Circus 5 Best Sketches

Bonus

So there we go folks – Monty Python – funny or not funny? were you a fan? If so what were your best sketches or films, if not, why not?

6 thoughts on “Theme Times – Monty Python

  1. I could watch these again and again. I think “Life of Brian” may be my favourite film. I remember going to see it at the pictures with my friend – we were in the 6th form and studying A level Latin – the scene where John Cleese lectures the centurion in Latin grammar was priceless!

  2. Holy Grail is my all time favorite Monty Python movie. The knights who say Ni, the coconut shells, the insults from the tower…really silly stuff!
    Second fave is Life Of Brian. I can relate to the song Always Look on the Bright Side…
    The Flying Circus was hit and miss for me. Some of it was funny, other…not so much.
    Now go get me a shrubbery. LOL

    1. Ha ha. I struggled with Flying Circus, and that kind of British humour. Mind you l have always struggled with finding British comedians funny, having a preference for American and Candian comics.

      The Monty Python films were very slapstick and spoofish and whilst l found some funny, the rest bored me to tears.

      As l got older, yes l learned to appreciate the humour, but l didn’t always find it actually funny many a time.

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