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Origins of Monty Python 101

jyuter writes "CNN posts the first chapter of the new Monty Python book, 'Monty Python Speaks!' It's a bit long, but an interesting read. " Well, the topic icon seems very applicable today. Read it-really good stuff.
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Origins of Monty Python

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  • They are THE classic comedy troupe. This article just proves that they stand the test of time..

    "Blue.. no yellow!"

  • This parrot is dead!

    No it's not, it's just resting...
  • But then NO ONE expects the Spanish Inquisition! :)
  • What happened to the Marx brothers, Laurl/Hardy, or others. I see nothing really fascinating or tech related about monty python anyway.
  • Not me
    Homer Simpson has a heck of a lot funnier base than python.
  • by dmorin ( 25609 ) <dmorin@gma i l .com> on Friday July 30, 1999 @09:14AM (#1773870) Homepage Journal
    Did everybody see the special on cable awhile back when they got some sort of award? They even brought Graham's ashes out with them on stage (and of course, knocked them over and had to vacuum him up).

    I think it was Terry Jones who had this quote: "We were going for something that would be completely indescribable. Given that 'python-esque' is now in the OED, I think we pretty much failed miserably."

    According to Michael Palin, John Cleese got up at Graham Chapman's funeral and said, "Graham Chapman, writer of the parrot sketch, is no more. He has ceased to be. He has gone to meet his maker..."

  • Linux: "There's a penguin on the television set"... Of course, everyone loves penguins.

    The US and Cryptography: "Help, help, I'm being opressed!"

    Cafeteria food: "Spam, spam, spam, spam..."

    ...and they set such high standards in humor and animation, that now we have South Park. :)
  • I think the Python appeal is generational -- the Pythons were big right around the formative years of many a kid growing up in the home computer boom (70s - 80s). Just happenstance, I think. (And will "South Park" be the Python of the current batch of kids?) The Marx Bros. are *funny*, but "old"... the Pythons were contemporary for a lot of up-and-coming /.ers.
  • I say, how fast does an unburdened swallow fly? Well, I guess that depends, do you mean the eastern European or the African swallow? Well, how the hell should I know? ...
  • That to, but still...

    "We want you to bring us, a SHRUBBERY!!"
  • What? You must be joking! Have you seen the TV series!
  • ... is the department for the preservation of SILLY WALKS
  • There are two kinds of people in the world those who like Python and those that don't. It is totally a matter of opinion weather or not you find them funny. Personally I think they are the funniest comedy troupe ever. On to your second sentence. I really don't see why you think an article on slashdot needs to be tech related, I know this has been stressed before but here it comes again. Slashdot News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. I fart in your general direction, your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries. ;)
  • Oh... Intercourse the penguin!
  • by jammer ( 4062 ) on Friday July 30, 1999 @09:33AM (#1773879) Homepage
    Nobody expects the Linux Inquisition! []

    Did you expect that? Huh? HUH!?

  • On one Simpsons episode Homer goes back to college and hangs out with a bunch of computer nerds who, guess what, know all the words to the Holy Grail (just like me!)

  • Monty Python was pretty funny, esp the Holy Grail, but I always felt that they were overrated. I thought American shows like SNL and In Living Color were a lot funnier, but maybe that's just a taste issue.
  • by Wohali ( 57372 ) on Friday July 30, 1999 @09:35AM (#1773882) Homepage
    This article once again shows how Monty Python was directly influenced by The Goon Show. You should definitely seek out and purchase [] these fine radio programs. Prepare for 30 minutes of absolute and complete confusion to warp your fragile little mind. Peter Sellers went on record before his death and said his 9 years with the Goon Show were the best years of his life. Hey, who am I to argue?

    Be forewarned -- the first one you listen to will be so confusing that you might be tempted to stop listening. DON'T. Once you understand the basic characters [] (Major Dennis Bloodnok, Bluebottle, Neddie Seagoon, Eccles, and Hercules Grytpype-Thynne) and what the heck they're doing, you'll split your sides laughing.

    What's your favorite episode? Mine must be Six Charlies In Search Of An Author. Pirandello, eat your heart out!

    He's fallen in the water! Needle Nardle Noo!

  • I like South Park, but it's not going to be anything like Python. It really looks like it's headed in the same direction as Beavis and Butthead - all the kids love it becuase it's the most vulgar show on TV, all the parents hate it for the same reason. Eventually, all the kids start realizing, "Hey....this isn't very funny anymore. Now it just kinda sucks." and then they change the channel.

    But The Simpsons just keeps on going. By the way, Metallica will be the next Led Zeppelin, mark my words.
  • More like classic as in defining, setting standards.. remaining funny even though they are old.. =)

  • Ok, I'm lame for posting a reply on my own post. After seeing a mix of "big deal" and "Python rules" posts, though, I thought I would chime in again.

    I think you're right about Python being generational. I'm not quite 30 and I caught the Python reruns on PBS starting in my early teens. It was very fresh to me.

    I also eventually saw the Python films. At the time, only "geeks" (bad thing to be at my school) were into that stuff. I kept quiet about it, except when I was around my friends who were part of the Drama club. There, it was an inside joke to us.

    I think the appeal is their creativity and their willingness to take a simple premise and push it to the farthest extremes. Sometimes, the original premise might not be hysterical, but they would push it until it was (remember the "organ collectors" in "The Meaning of Life"?)

    Python didn't make me roll on the floor often, but I DID smile a lot. It was witty, creative, and fun to watch. Certainly, part of my affection is nostalgia now. The fact that I can openly drop a Python reference around people today and have them "get it" is also cool.

    Anyway, that's about enough of my "What Monty Python Means to Me" essay. :)
  • "My brain hurts!" .... "No, my brain in my head, my brain in my head!!"
  • by Rick_T ( 3816 )
    Cafeteria food? Bah ... the term "spam" itself, as used on the Internet.

    I *wish* our cafeteria had served something as edible as SPAM ... :)

    Oh, and baked beans.
  • by drwiii ( 434 ) on Friday July 30, 1999 @09:46AM (#1773889)
    I'm from Microsoft and I'm OK
    I sleep all night and I sleep all day

    He's from Microsoft and he's OK
    He sleeps all night and he sleeps all day

    I code VB, I eat my lunch, I go to the lavat'ry
    On Wednesdays I do nothing
    But collect pay from Bill G.

    He codes VB, he eats his lunch, he goes to the lavat-ry
    On Wednesdays he does nothing
    But collect pay from Bill G.
    He's from Microsoft and he's OK
    He sleeps all night and he sleeps all day.

    I code VB, whilst taking a dump
    Ten lines done in two hours
    I wish I had GNU/Linux
    I just crashed my Windows taskbar

    He codes VB, whilst taking a dump
    Ten lines done in two hours
    He wishes he had GNU/Linux
    He just crashed his Windows taskbar
    .. ??
    He's from Microsoft and he's OK
    He sleeps all night and he sleeps all day.

    I code VB, and MFC
    NT is such a crock
    I wish I'd learned BSD
    Just like my dear papa!

    He codes VB, and MFC
    NT is such a crock
    .. ?!?

    He's from Microsoft and he's OK
    He sleeps all night and he sleeps all day!

    Yet another twisted drwiii [] presentation :P

  • Yeah, that was shown several times on Comedy Central.. It was a special held during some awards show in Colorado.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Instead of posting more great quotes from easily the funniest television show of all time, I'd like to point out that Monty Python's Flying Circus is in syndication on A&E Saturday evenings. Check your local listings for exact times, but it's great since they play the episodes in order, and fill up an entire hour with classic sketches.

    It's unbelievable that it's been over 30 years and they've yet to be topped in insanity. I mean, there's not a single television show or film that is more lunatic and psychotic than these brilliantly creative skits (and of course, animation).!

  • I saw that episode too. Basically it just pokes fun at the sterotypical "nerd".
  • The funniest skit I ever saw, ever, was MP's 1812 Overture, played by the exploding orchestra. I've never laughed so hard since. We had a screening of the episode in one of our Lit classes in college - relating to surrealism in arts/media - the whole class was, quite literally, on the floor, helpless with laughter.

  • by awrc ( 12953 ) on Friday July 30, 1999 @10:02AM (#1773894)

    While we're talking about Monty Python's Flying Circus and A&E, I see A&E will be releasing all the TV shows on DVD starting in September. So far they've announced four 2-disc sets, with each disc containing roughly four hours worth of stuff (difficult to say how much of it's original shows though, since they're adding all the usual DVD goodies).

    Oh, and for that matter, the pseudo-movie "And Now For Something Completely Different" is due out on DVD on Monday.


  • ON september 28 A&E will release the first 2 seasons of the Flying Circus on DVD!!!

    "And after the spanking there's the oral sex"
    "-- well I could stay a bit longer..."
  • Funny thing...

    Some humor works based on premise, and you can describe the general idea to someone, and they'll snicker or not, depending on how well you told it. Python has great comic ideas, sure, but it has that quotability thing going on. People tend to remember the exact words used in a particular sketch/movie. That doesn't happen very often in comedy. Lessee: Far Side (Bummer of a birthmark, Hal...), Raising Arizona (Son, you got a panty on yore hed.) There are more, I know, but I'm lazy today.

    In the Live at the Hollywood Bowl movie, the Pythons were rightly stunned at hearing their jokes recited along with the routine, like singing along at a rock concert. Even better, after the line was recited, everybody would crack up as though hearing it for the first time.

    Weird and interesting stuff. Wish I could bottle it for use in my writing...

  • this is an EX-parrot!

    ...have you got any cheddar? Not much call for it in these parts, sir.

    ...I'd like a license for my pet fish named abdul. This is a dog license with the word dog scratched out and the word hamster written in.

    ...that was *never* five minutes just now! I could be just arguing on my own time.

    Cleese and Palin were my favorite combo, they had a magic all their own.

  • That would have been interesting to see.
  • Yes.
    "'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It took 45 minutes for the first anti-MS post to appear. What took so long?
  • I don't think it is generational. I discovered Monty Python when I was about 13, and a cable channel (Bravo) began airing Flying Circus episodes all the time shortly afterwards. Having seen Python, and the Simpsons and various other things, Python is undoubtedly the best, the greatest. Sure, the Simpsons is brilliant, but the Python crew knew how to make a sketch work like no one else. Saturday Night Live can only hope to be as good as Python. (When have you seen something like the Jockey sketch - with successful jockeys being interviewed, you only see their heads; the champion doesn't even show up on the screen =).. or the Parrot Sketch (everyone knows the parrot sketch)
  • The text formatting was a bitch.
  • Long live the Goons!

    There was a good article on the Goons in last Thursday's Toronto Star's technology section. The author says in a followup this week that he's never had so much response to any of his articles.

    The Goon Show is broadcast on CJRT on Tuesday evenings in Toronto.

    If you're interested, visit my Goon Show Scripts website at
  • >Oh, and baked beans.

    "Baked beans are off!"

    Well, can I have 'er spam instead of the baked beans, then?"

    "You mean spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam and spam? Euugh!"

    Relevant? Where do you think Python got its name from?
  • Beavis and Butthead were different from South Park in the sense that all their show had was stupid music videos interjected into boring and alltogether stupid plots.

    South Park (particularly the movie), on the other hand, has a little bit of reality in it. It exposes and makes fun of all the inconsistancies in our society (i.e. it's ok to let your kids see tons of senseless violence and killing, but the minute someone says a 'naughty' word (isn't the whole idea of swearing a dumb concept anyway?) or takes their shirt off, then that media has warped their fragile little minds ;)

    I do have to agree with you though...the Simpsons are the best :)

  • And then there's the "Machine That Goes PING!"

  • What about this parrot?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 30, 1999 @10:35AM (#1773908)
    John Cleese came to speak at Cornell earlier this year. He's actually a professor at large here, believe it or not.
    First we watched 'A Fish called Wanda'. Then he took questions, where he demanded that everyone address him as 'Professor Cleese' before answering any questions ... absolutely hilarious.
    He's actually a very interesting, thoughtful and (when he wants to be) serious speaker.
  • Ken Shabby kills me every time.

    Ohhhh, I hav'nt *cough*cough* in Weeks, *huchhh*
  • Seagoon: Another two days to the fort. I can just see the look on Major Ffolkes's face now.

    Bloodnok: My, you've got damned good eyesight!

    Seagoon: Are we all here then?

    Eccles: I'm not all here...

    (Thus my nom-de-plume...)
  • He'll be up in a minute!

    I'll bet he's laughing his wings off too. :)
  • Just saw that BO2k screen capture... I don't think I'll ever stop laughing... o2kfun/best.html for those of you wondering wtf I'm talking about...
  • Perhaps it's because I'm among the second most lame group of people in the world, but sometimes I enjoy saying 'nee' to anyone and everyone I see...occasionally I'll ride my holygrailesque horse to class.

    is it because I'm hopelessly lame or because Monty Python is the funniest group of people on earth and I'm a bit impressionable yet?

  • The Geek Race! Oh what a skit.

    How about this one? I'd lauke to repowt a bur-gul-laa-rey.

    Or this one? Mr. Johnson has learned the first rule of not being seen. However, he has chosen a very obvious piece of covah! Kablooey!

    Monty Python humor is truly an art form. :)
  • Is that an african or a european swallow?

    Look! It's the old man from scene 37!

    What's the capitol of Assyria?

    It's only a flesh wound! Oh! I see! Runnin' away ayy? Come back and fight like a man! I'll bite ya legs off!

    And now for something completely different...hehe.
  • First, I cringe with every misquote. My friends and I can't go 10 minutes without some obscure Python-ism (Ditto for Star Wars tho). So I darn all thee misquoters to heck (unless it's actually applied in satirical context)

    But enough of that. What I wanted to say what that it's great to see something like Python so alive and well today. It is THE classic. Heck, a few months ago, a local radio station did a Monty Pyton special. Great it was too, a lot of skits in vocal form, spliced to all hell.

    It was great to hear them, and I must say, that the entire 'Cat License' skit, including the song 'Eric the Half a Bee' was just as great on the radio as on the tube. I'd go into a tirade of quotations, but that's not really necessary right now =) Everyone else already have.

    Bet you expected me to though. Nobody expects the silence of a deranged Python fan! And I must say that that was nearly obscure enough to still render my comment quote-free. ;-)
  • Well, I always prefer english comedy to american. If thats because I'm from europe or not might perhaps be best left unsaid. Perhaps it's just something in the water? :-)
  • Ying Ti Iddleipoo

    I run a goon show site over at

    I put up 4 to 5 goon shows a week for public resumption. There are also links to scripts, fan sites, and even a connection to the bigest Charlie of them all.

    Come listen to where the Pythons got the inspiration.

    You can also get more info on more Old Time Radio Shows at
  • He's also done the narration for quite a few industrial films, too.

    My favorite part about Monty Python, other than their tendency to skewer anybody and anything, is that they didn't "dumb down" a lot of the material, or assuming their audience were a bunch of idiots. There are a lot of references to history, art, and philosophy that you just don't see in comedy from anyone else...

    "I want a Last Supper with no trampoline acts, no mariachi bands, no jugglers, only 12 disciples, and one Christ."
    "Yes. What in God's name possessed you to make this painting with THREE Christs in it?"
    "It WORKS, mate. The fat one balances out the two skinny ones..."

  • The last url should be

  • Maybe the SNL of 18-20 years ago...but not today's...not by a long shot...
  • Oh wow that is the funniest thing ive seen in a LONG time!
  • Actaully, Cleese did that at Graham's memorial, not at the funeral. It's most of the rant from the Parrot sketch (which they co-wrote) plus some other rather "interesting" bits.
    The full text of it is in Kim Johnson's book, The First 280 years of Monty Python (excellent book - with tons of info about all the Pythons, before, during & after the series and all of the various film projects - well worth the US$22.00)
  • Though I can't find the original article, this is the true, verifiable "Geek Test" that our erstwhile Mr. Katz was seeking to define several months ago.

    Being a geek is not determined by whether you prefer 'The Matrix' or 'SW:TPM'. It is simply a matter of how much of 'MP and the Holy Grail' you can recite from memory.

    (Extra Credit for 'Life of Brian')

    I think the responses to this thread already are more than enough proof for this hypothesis.
  • I'd have to disagree with that. Beavis and Butthead are funny for a while, but the show really has no point. Southpark, on the other hand, has a ton of satire thrown into nearly every show (and especially the movie). Satire of religion, censorship, the MPAA, presidents, police, etc.

    The Simpsons are pretty good too, but I've been finding the new (last two seasons or so) episodes to be distinctly less funny than the old ones. Perhaps it's just me, but very few of the new espisodes seem to have any sort of a point to them.
  • I liked Jabberwocky better than either Brian or Grail.

    Haven't seen The Matrix or the fourth SW movie (or the second or third- saw the first one in 1977)
  • mother's womb probably.. each and every cast member they ever used.

  • I love python, the goons and tons of the stuff i think is creative and original humor. they sought to bring a little creative light in a world of blandness and sameoldcrap.

    What is bizzare is that some of the strongest fans of these creative lights seek only to parrot (not dead) the lines heard rather than take up the call to creative whackiness.

    Which do you think would honor more the spirit of thier humor, repititon or creation?

    ( and for extra points...Which Goon show meber made an apperance in Life of Brian?)

  • My fave ggonshow at the moment is Foiled By President Fred.

    But My fave changes every week.

    To listen to the goonshows head over to

    I post 4 to 5 shows every week, in mp3 format. There are also lists and links to follow to learn abou the goons.

    These things are priceless. Collect em all and construct the new MEgaEccles.."hows yer old dad"

  • Spike Milligan!

    "Let us.. Let us pray"
  • If you get a chance, I suggest you see this movie.

    I've never laughed so hard in a movie theatre.

    Like Python, it's not for everyone. Out of the 20 people there, my wife, myself, and two other people were laughing our heads off. The rest of the audience jut didn't get it.

    For the obscure Python line, check the sig. It hasn't changed for months.

  • ni ni ni ni ni ni
  • I meant "generational" only in that I think a lot of the appeal is with the generation that's currently in their... lessee... late 20s to late 30s, maybe? Anyhow, I would say it's a safe bet that my grandparents would not "get" Python, but instead prefer comedy from their era. And I'm not trying to case aspersions on the Pythons' collective talent -- they are a very funny group of writers/performers, with roots in some of the best Brit. comedy of the time. Their appeal isn't purely age-based, but I've found (non-scientifically) that the biggest Python audience has always been folks +- my own age.
  • That show, to me, captured a lot of what MP is all about...
  • THUD!

    Hang on...

    Just gotta get back into my chair...

    BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!! (THUD! again)

    I'm O-kay... God, that was SO fscking funny! The look on that's poor guy's face... HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

    And he's using a QuickCam...

    And he's just realized that the guy that BO'd him probably captured the hanky-panky that went on last night...

    For those of you too damn lazy to cut-n-paste, here's a clickable link: HOLY SH!T []

    God, this one's a classic! That's it, this one's WALLPAPER!!

    Who says cracking isn't worthwhile? This was sure worth it!!

  • I don't know if it's still in use, but my father, who is a manager for JCPenney (dept store similar to Sears), said that they had a training video that featured the Parrot sketch. It was how *not* to treat customers and how to handle problems with merchandise, etc. It's amazing where this stuff shows up.

  • Yakabooo you are correct

    Here is a recording of a fifty pound note.

  • Actually, I prefer Perl.

    QDMerge [] -- data + templates = documents.
  • I love Python (the show. I am more partial to Perl when it comes to comp. langs.)

    But nothing is more boring than a bunch of old farts sitting around talking about thier "glory days" 30 years ago.

    Hopefully this book gets better and talks about some actual episodes and how they came about. I care less about how these guys met and what goofy college theater stuff they did back in 1963.

  • First, I cringe with every misquote. My friends and I can't go 10 minutes without some obscure Python-ism (Ditto for Star Wars tho). So I darn all thee misquoters to heck (unless it's actually applied in satirical context)

    I have to agree about he misquotes. In fact I want to complain abou-

    YOU want to complain!? I've only 'ad these shoes three weeks and the 'eels 'ave worn through!
  • "First, I cringe with every misquote. My friends and I can't go 10 minutes without some obscure Python-ism (Ditto for Star Wars tho). So I darn all thee misquoters to heck (unless it's actually applied in satirical context)"
    It's like spelling - the spirit is more important then that technical specifics. Even Monty Python don't do the same skit with the same words every time. Compare a skit from the flying circus show, to its retelling on the stage, to its retelling on the stage, to its retelling on their various albums. There are lines changed, names changed, whole jokes dropped and new ones added in. As long as it's funny it isn't worth getting stressed about the words. Now - the inflection, that's other story entirely.... :)
  • There is a difference between funny things that are intelligent, and things that are intended to be intelligent that come off as funny.
  • "Do you get wafers with it?"

    "Course you don't get fuckin' wafers with it!!!"
  • ...obviously aren't "man enough" for life in the British Dental Association. So there. :-

    Zontar The Mindless,

  • Uh? Yeah.... O.K. Moving on....
  • Bloody hell...

    When I was in university, for an advanced level history course on the Roman Empire, our final paper was to write an essay discussing and analyzing a 'modern' piece of media which involved the Roman Empire. Guess which one I picked...

  • The young ones has to be one of my fave britcom's to date! ever see bottom? a sorta sequel to the young ones with Adrian Edmondson and Rik Mayall.
  • Yes, stupdid, you're right...Man I'm glad I'm not stup-did...Listen, if you're gonna start some flamebait by saying something like that, at least spell it correctly...
  • I am SO glad that so many people positively responded to the mention of Monty Python's Flying Circus.

    Yes, the troupe was heavily influenced by the The Goon Show and Ernie Kovacs (plus a number of shows I don't remember offhand), but what did result is (IMHO) the most effective display of comedy on television I've EVER seen. I really think that that the Python troupe had to be extremely intelligent in order to parody everything British, just like the fact the more you think about it, the more you know that the original contributors to MAD magazine had to be quite intelligent to effectively parody everything American from the middle 1950's on.

    The Python genius showed right from the start with one of the earliest "sketches," the famous "Killer Joke." The version we saw on TV was unbelievably funny and SO much more intelligently-developed than any American comedy of its day--let alone today! The first time I saw it in 1975, I nearly fell off my chair laughing out very loud! (^_^)
  • You got my interest, but the site is down (and has been for some time evidently). Is it anywhere else?
  • Blue Danube. It was the Exploding Blue Danube.

    I'm trying to decide whether I'm proud of knowing that.


  • Sorry, but that's the old man from scene 24.

When speculation has done its worst, two plus two still equals four. -- S. Johnson