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How to Irritate People (1969)

TV Movie  -   -  Comedy  -  21 January 1969 (USA)
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In this mock-documentary, John Cleese narrates a series of sketches on irritation -- types and techniques. Included are parents irritating their children, old ladies irritating movie-goers ... See full summary »


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Title: How to Irritate People (TV Movie 1969)

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Complete credited cast:
Himself - Various
Tim Brooke-Taylor ...
Various Characters
Gillian Lind ...
Dick Vosburgh ...


In this mock-documentary, John Cleese narrates a series of sketches on irritation -- types and techniques. Included are parents irritating their children, old ladies irritating movie-goers in a theater, an overly subservient waiter, a car repairman denying obvious car trouble, a party guest hinting for a ride, airplane pilots playing practical jokes on their passengers, and a talk show host who doesn't stop talking. Written by Samuel Stoddard <>

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Release Date:

21 January 1969 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

John Cleese on How to Irritate People  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The "Silly Job Interview" sketch was recreated by John Cleese and Graham Chapman for Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969), as was the "Argument Clinic" sketch. See more »


Quizmaster: What animal makes the noise, "meow?"
Old Woman: A car?
Quizmaster: Nearly! Ca... ca... ca...
Old Woman: Ca... ca... bus?
Quizmaster: No. Ca... ca...
Old Woman: Aeroplane?
Quizmaster: No, no! Ca... ca... ca...
Old Woman: Ca... ca... ca... MOTOR TORPEDO BOAT!
Quizmaster: NO, NO, NO! Ha, ha, ha... bad luck, Mrs. Morris, jolly good try. No, Mrs. Morris, what ANIMAAAAAAL... ha, ha... makes the noise "meow?"
Old Woman: Oh, that's easy. A cat.
See more »


Featured in What the Pythons Did Next... (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

Python Sans Rage
26 April 2007 | by (Long Island, USA) – See all my reviews

First of all, I hope it won't be considered an act flaming to say some of the reviewers here seem to want to shame anybody who might have an interest in the pre-history of Britain's comedic centerpiece, Monty Python's Flying Circus. As a forty-seven-year-old American I can assert that, in the late nineteen-sixties, re-packaged David Frost specials used to pop up on TV on my side of the Atlantic and I can well remember how riotous these little glimpses of British comedy seemed. David Frost must be the Kevin Bacon of mid-twentieth century British comedians, because Peter Sellers, Marty Feldman and, as is evidenced by this movie which shows his name prominently in its credits, Monty Python were all within six degrees of him. (Frost's comedic coup was his series of Nixon interviews, of course. Frost was the Western World's court jester.) In any case, this movie (which, from what I can tell, was either a TV special from the start or a collection of best bits from a series) has three members of what was about to become Monty Python. It also has Connie Booth, who, besides being John Cleese's wife, worked with him very closely on the scripts for FAWLTY TOWERS. What is historically interesting is the narration. Cleese appears before each skit, prefacing it in much the same way MAD Magazine prefaces each article. A year later, when Monty Python had its first episode, gone were the prefatory explanations. The prefaces made me realize how grounded in Baby-Boomer idealism Monty Python was. A skit Cleese says is about how irritating parents can be is really a pretty cold delineation of the alienation between the World War Two generation and its offspring. The grown children are so engrossed in watching TV they won't even look at the parents and the parents are so unable to appreciate their children's alienation that they act as if there's nothing drastically wrong. MONTY PYTHON splashed the fact that things were drastically wrong across the screen in every episode. Here, in a just barely pre-Python world (specifically, 1968) there is a certain bowing to TV conventions which highlights, for me, the sadness of a world in which World War Two was very much a living memory. HOW TO IRRITATE PEOPLE is one step removed from the "How Not To Be Seen" skit. The rage which informs Python is under the surface here. At least one of the skits here is performed unchanged in MONTY PYTHON (the job interview), at least one other is, for my money, as good as anything Python would do, but made a little more human because of its mood of genuine (if dark) camaraderie at the end (the airplane skit) and in all the skits I saw serious precursors of skits which would come later. Palin has all his shtick in place, Cleese has his delivery and Chapman is, if anything, livelier here than in Python. (I particularly like his actor-asking-star-of-show for a compliment.) This also shows me that, for all the energy, the members of Monty Python had powers of observation. Seen here more as actors than clowns, we see master comics building up to the height of the satire they are about to achieve.

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