Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969–1974)
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It's partly a stream-of-consciousness style show thanks to Terry Gilliam's spectacularly crude animations (through cut-outs mostly, and spoofing either classical paintings, architecture, movies, and of course dancing teeth), part social satire through various skits of people going into shops (Parrot), jobs, arguments (want to argue about an argument), the police, criminals, movies, sports, old ladies, politics, and other sorts of good diddies on all things in life. There's also the most random bits of comedy ever to come out of the 20th century, and I can only think of the basic things that might have you wanting to check it out. I love short skits, like the classic fish-slapping bit (there comes the BIG fish, heh), and over-the-top voices (Michael Palin, I think, does some of the best ones, like an introduction he does to a skit that reminded me of one of the voices in the Holy Grail trailer), and deranged costumes, and the richness of the silly dialog. Sure a skit might not hit the mark, but then I could them come back to it days later and be laughing about things not laughed at the first time around.
There aren't too many, if much at all, conventional punchlines- the brilliant stuff comes in the random barbs that shoot up in the lines and the deliver, in a look that Cleese or Chapman might give at one point or another, or the lack of something that ends up coming around later in the bit, or maybe not. There's absolutely no shame in how tasteless some of this can get, be it with topical issues or just the little things everyday we tend to take for granted, but a tasteless sensibility without any net to fall on that's appealing. And, of course, the Lumberjack song and ministry of silly walks and . Bottom line, if there could ever be one with Flying Circus, if you think it's just stupid little goofy gags and skits going on, watch out for how rich the words fly out (err, in Circus-like fashion) the mouths of the Pythons. It's the mightiest heap of the inspiration-turned-ludicrous comedy to be found on any TV show. Other favorite skits: 'Most Awful Family in Britain', 'Self-Defence Class', 'Word Problem', and 'Kilimanjaro Expedition' among others.
Monty pythons pretty much invented and perfected their unique brand of humor which can be categorized as 'surreal'. One can argue that 'the Goon Show' was the archetype for Monty pythons, which is true, but then Monty Pythons took it to territories that had never been explored before. They created a world where you can get a government grant for silly walks or buy an argument in an argument clinic. A world in which a father and son could have the age old "romantic vs. a simple coal miner" argument, just that in this world the son is a regular coal miner whereas it's the father whose head is full of useless novels and poems. Just like the Beatles they took something and created something completely new out of it. The comparison is valid because Monty Pythons at their peak enjoyed the status of any of the rock stars in those days (including groupies) and the Beatles, George Harrison in particular, were their biggest promoters.
Terri Gillian's stream of consciousness art work is pretty bizarre and holds all the sketches together. John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Eric Idle and Terry Jones play all the characters (including women's) themselves with dead seriousness. This is insane humor at it's brilliant best.
The Pythons, as if you did not know, were John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, and Eric Idle. It was an inspired collection for a comedy team; Cleese and Chapman were good at sketches in which there was lots of verbal abuse, Palin and Jones excelled at items which sent up film genres, Gilliam provided some disturbing animations, while Idle contributed well-written skits involving word play.
In the first season, each episode opened with a bedraggled Palin emerging either from the sea or jungle to issue the following warning: "Its...". Flowers would then climb the screen, their petals opening to reveal the name of the show, to the strains of 'Liberty Bell' by Souza. The very first show kicked off with a sketch in which a city gent ( Jones ) asks a Yokel farmer ( Chapman ) just what his sheep are doing up in the trees. The farmer says that they have realised that their lives consist of standing around and waiting to be eaten, so they have decided to do something about it. We then cut to two Frenchmen ( Palin and Cleese ) in berets who demonstrate the commercial possibilities of flying sheep. From the reaction of the audience, its clear they are baffled rather than amused. 'Python' took time to catch on, but when it did, the public could not get enough of it.
Season 2 is generally thought of as the best. 'The Ministry Of Silly Walks', 'The Spanish Inquisition', 'The Piranha Brothers', and 'The Semaphore Version Of 'Wuthering Heights' originated here. Clips of the show were regularly requested on 'Ask Aspel', a children's show hosted by Michael Aspel.
After two excellent seasons and a movie, plus a couple of fun German specials, 'Python' went into decline, and John Cleese's departure was the final nail in the coffin. Season 4 was the last. Fortunately, the team reunited to make movies which, if anything, were funnier than the show, particularly 'Life Of Brian' ( 1979 ). The last one - 'The Meaning Of Life' ( 1983 ) ended with a clip of the title sequence of the very first television show, taking 'Python' full circle. Chapman's death in 1989 closed the door on Python for good. A brief reunion in 1999 - 'Python Night' - was a disaster, with Eddie Izzard unwisely trying to stand-in for the deceased star.
I must squeeze in a quick mention of lovely Carol Cleveland, with whom I was madly in love in the early '70's. Her bra coming off at the end of 'Scott Of The Sahara' had a profound impact on me!
I am writing to complain about the silliness known as Monty Python's Flying Circus which plagues my television. The "jokes" are silly and pointless, and the sketches never have proper endings. I demand that this programme be removed from telly at once and replaced with programmes that are truly representative of the glories of British humour, such as Keeping Up Appearances and the BBC World News.
Sincerely, Col. Arthur von Gambolputty-Dinsdale of Ulm (deceased)
(Warning: This letter does not reflect the true feelings of the reviewer, who is a huge fan of Python and thinks that the above-mentioned gripes are the very reason that the show is awesome. The comedy still holds up after over 35 years, though several of the costumes and haircuts do not, and the mixture of zany oddball non sequiters, intellectual references and satires, and ingenious physical comedy makes Python something very special and unique. Viva Python! And remember, !las llamas son mas grande que las ranas!)
I also own some Monty Python cassette tapes and my brother has some on vinyl! I have far too many favorite Monty Python bits to name,some of my faves are "The Lumberjack Song", "It's the Mind", and "The Bishop"! And who can forget that caveman who can only say, 'its'? Also, anyone remember that one about the self-defense class involving a 'Poi-ted stick'? Pure timeless classic! Monty Python cracks me up all the time! Even if you're not in a good mood, watching this will put you in one!
I highly suggest this to anyone who is a stickler for British humor. Also, watch their movies: The Holy Grail, And Now for Something Completely Different, and The Life of Brian. I give Monty Python's Flying Circus 5 out of 5 stars! Watch it if you can!
It's... hilarious. It's... absurd. It's... very hard to describe, because it is so freakin' random! Almost every little sketch takes such bizarre twists and turns into something completely else that you'll literally never see it coming. Terry Gilliam's innovative, and equally absurd, animations are no different in their appearances between sketches. Often serving as transitions, but really this is just one side-splittingly funny compilation of sheer absurdity.
Poking fun at just about everything that you could possibly imagine - talk shows, courts, daily life, the Spanish Inquisistion, the military, etc... - and it is all put together in a way no less random. Skits end unexpectedly, some shots are used many times, random characters appear only to speak one line, and all that makes for what is quite possibly the best crafted presentation of absurdity and chaos ever made. 10/10
Not Rated and suitable for most viewers, but very cautious parents will undoubtedly object to the crude humor.
Like most fans I think the parrot sketch is hilarious but it is not really my favorite. I can't really think of a favorite sketch I have because there are so many I find hysterical. One of them is the interview of Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson which is some kind of parody of those boring art shows, where the man in the chair is supposed to be really respected and everybody is supposed to praise him. The Pythons like to poke holes in those people's arrogant facade and they are especially vicious when it comes to chartered accountants and religious organizations. I could go on forever describing the "meaning of Flying Circus" but I think the answer is very subjective. The only way is to judge for yourself. I cannot say that all people will find the show funny and it is not really a show for people who only like toilet humor like the Farrelly Bros. films. I will close by saying that the show is such an institution that "pythonesque" has been included in Oxford's dictionary much to the dismay or joy to the Pythons. Who knows, with them you can never be sure.
I've never tired of their antics, and if anything they've become funnier as I've aged. I'm extra greatful to these fellas, because without their comic genius we surely wouldn't have the brilliance of The Kids in the Hall and Mr. Show.
Season 1 was great, but not their best. Still experimenting and finding their feet, it had some great sketches, but nothing as iconic as what was to come.
Season 2 was where they really hit their straps. Most of their well-known sketches are from Season 2: Piranha Brothers, Ministry of Silly Walks, The Bruces, Spam, The Spanish Inquisition, Scott of the Antarctic.
Season 3 was more of the same.
Season 4 was where they tapered off. John Cleese had left and the creativity just wasn't anywhere near the levels of Seasons 2 and 3. No wonder it was only 6 episodes.
Timeless comedy that has become embedded in culture. It's that big, brilliant and important.
What can we learn from their outrageous sketches and movies?...People are absolute cads, and no one celebrates the idiocy of mankind better than the masters of lunacy themselves. Their comedic indifference to the everyday foibles of humanity is an irreverent bitch slap to social conformity associated with mindless adherence to outdated moral clichés and profanely bland status quo.
Whether engaged in post menopausal b*tch fest, Olympic silly walks, village idiot antics, incentive game shows for communists, plopping fetuses in tow for scientific research, or exploding at a restaurant table near you, no one has captured the essence of human folly better than John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. On behalf of the twisted Brits, if you didn't understand the punchline, well then p*ss off!
P.S. - * indicates item originally censored by this site. In tribute to Python, host should refer most attentively to this commentary.
There is no need to underline the importance of Monty Python's Flying Circus for today's comedy. After all, it has spawned several movies and innumerable copycats. It followed in the footsteps of the Marx brothers and absurdist comedy, for example Hellzaappopin' (1941) and unleashed talent in the comedy world and opened new fields of entertainment.
The only criticism i might have is that it created a safe haven for semi-talented individuals who make whatever they want a name it comedy, in the similar way that surrealism influenced mainstream art of the twentieth century.
It's a sure bet that you'll still find people whistling Sousa's military march for no apparent reason for many years to come. Even when the members of this incomparable comedy troupe are gone to meet their maker, are pushing up the daisies, have rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. Whatever you do, the Pythons are a great reminder that the last laugh is on you. I'm sure that was what occurred to Graham Chapman as well when he participated in his own funeral and the rest of the gang just made a high caliber comedy show out of it, Python style. Can't kill them, I tell ya.
This is a sketch comedy show featuring Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin, and Terry Jones, the six official members of the Monty Python team. It also features many parodies and bizarre concepts! Five of the group's members regularly appear in sketches, each delivering lots of silliness and insanity, while Gilliam, the British troupe's sole American member, only appears sporadically on screen but is responsible for all the bizarre animated sequences, which are featured in every episode and really fit in with the live action sketches! The show sometimes features guests for smaller roles as well, not always just the Pythons appear, and when the female characters are not played by any of the Pythons in drag, there are real women who play them, most commonly Carol Cleveland, who appears at certain points in the majority of the show's episodes and can be referred to as the seventh Python.
In my experience, I've found that no matter how good a sketch comedy show is, not ALL the sketches can be that great, including this show. For instance, I don't think I've ever found the tape recorder up the nose very funny. However, "Monty Python's Flying Circus" still features enough hilarious sketches to make it a masterpiece, with the man with three buttocks, the dead parrot, the homicidal barber sketch and very famous "Lumberjack Song" that follows it, the job interview, newlyweds trying to purchase a mattress, the Git family, the argument clinic, silly disturbances, and so many others, WAY too numerous to mention! Terry Gilliam's animated sequences can certainly be major highlights as well, and he could sure be creative with those cutouts he used for them, many of which he got from Victorian-era photographs! All official members of the Python troupe showed their amazing talent in this sketch comedy series, and I should also give credit to Carol Cleveland. Even though she wasn't an official member of the team, she kept getting roles in the show due to her comedic talent, which she certainly deserved, and is definitely worthy of the "7th Python" label!
Sadly, one of the legendary Pythons, Graham Chapman, died of throat and spinal cancer in 1989, when he was only 48 years old. This tragic death occurred the day before the 20th anniversary of the day on which the first episode of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" was originally broadcast! I was only three years old at the time of Chapman's death, so I was obviously unaware of it at the time, but finally learned about it sixteen years later, as I had just discovered how funny Monty Python was. That was when I discovered what a great comedian Chapman was, like the other Pythons, and how understandably missed he is. He contributed a lot to Python's humour with his talent, in a comedy franchise which obviously can't please everyone, as some people have been put off by the troupe's extremely silly style, but the work that the Pythons did together was very influential and has clearly made so many people from different generations laugh, and will hopefully continue to do so for generations to come! Cheers to Monty Python and R.I.P. Graham Chapman!