Monty Python's Flying Circus

Monty Python's Flying Circus. Image shows from L to R: Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam. Copyright: BBC.

Monty Python's Flying Circus

Highly influential off-the-wall 1970s sketch series, starring John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman and Terry Jones

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Steve Sunshine

  • Saturday 13th October 2012, 12:19am [Edited]
  • Dagenham, England
  • 14,492 posts

I've checked and it doesn't have its own thread.

It was a sketch show that aired in the late sixties, early seventies.
You've probably heard some of the sketches from it, such as:
Climbing the North face of the Uxbridge Road or Lemming of the BDA.

Does anyone else remember it?

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Jinky

  • Saturday 13th October 2012, 12:32am
  • England
  • 783 posts

I liked the episode with the giant kitten.

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Jakob Jensen

  • Saturday 13th October 2012, 12:32am [Edited]
  • Denmark
  • 201 posts

If The Beatles invented modern music, Pythons invented modern comedy.

I love the self defence against fruit sketch.

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Jinky

  • Saturday 13th October 2012, 12:34am [Edited]
  • England
  • 783 posts
Quote: Funny Johnny @ October 13 2012, 12:32 AM BST

If The Beatles invented modern music, Pythons invented modern comedy.

Hmmm....The Goons still have a claim on that title.

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Steve Sunshine

  • Saturday 13th October 2012, 12:39am
  • Dagenham, England
  • 14,492 posts

I think they'd admit the influence.

Quote: Jinky @ October 13 2012, 12:32 AM BST

I liked the episode with the giant kitten.

:D

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Ben

  • Saturday 13th October 2012, 9:12am
  • England
  • 18,345 posts

I grew up thinking MPFC was nothing but genius. This view was formed from watching only the compilation shows. However, I then started purchasing the DVDs of the complete series and couldn't believe how much terrible, terrible material was in there. That's not to say they don't contain some of the funniest and most innovative sketches ever, but it's mostly unfunny twaddle.

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Gordon Bennett

  • Saturday 13th October 2012, 9:27am
  • Basel, Switzerland
  • 19,033 posts
Quote: Ben @ October 13 2012, 9:12 AM BST

I grew up thinking MPFC was nothing but genius. This view was formed from watching only the compilation shows. However, I then started purchasing the DVDs of the complete series and couldn't believe how much terrible, terrible material was in there. That's not to say they don't contain some of the funniest and most innovative sketches ever, but it's mostly unfunny twaddle.

I agree. If you'd compile your own personal Best Of then you have bloody good 2 or 3 hours. But watching the whole box set over a few weeks or so can be pretty hard work. After two or three episodes you'll get the general idea: apart from a few straight sketches they show you how to deconstruct comedy for instance by omitting the punchline or violating the rules of timing or making a medieval knight appear in a 20th century office. This just isn't funny after the 23242th time. And sometimes I get the feeling of being patronised by a bunch of oxbridge clever dicks who say that it isn't "cool" to laugh at linear comedy.

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Alfred J Kipper

  • Saturday 13th October 2012, 9:43am
  • Aldershot, England
  • 5,636 posts
Quote: Ben @ October 13 2012, 9:12 AM BST

I grew up thinking MPFC was nothing but genius. This view was formed from watching only the compilation shows. However, I then started purchasing the DVDs of the complete series and couldn't believe how much terrible, terrible material was in there. That's not to say they don't contain some of the funniest and most innovative sketches ever, but it's mostly unfunny twaddle.

That's the trouble with any sketch show, you have 30 mins to fill with a wide variety and quality of sketches. If they were to put all the very best sketches in one or two episodes then you'd have four episodes which wouldn't be worth watching. That's why it isn't TV comedy's premier artform. I put it 3rd in the TV artform pecking order, behind Comdram and Supremo Sitcom.

Quote: Gordon Bennett @ October 13 2012, 9:27 AM BST

If you'd compile your own personal Best Of then you have bloody good 2 or 3 hours. But watching the whole box set over a few weeks or so can be pretty hard work.

Exactly, but the same goes with any sketch show. Even the best, The Benny Hill Show had a lot of mediocre gumph inbetween the gems.

The beauty of the narrative comedy is that you don't notice the filler so much, as it's still part of the story structure, it has a function. But put filler in a sketch show and it will stand out blaringly as being inferior to the good sketches.

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Nogget

  • Saturday 13th October 2012, 10:09am
  • England
  • 6,613 posts

It's hard to judge a partially-experimental 40+ year-old show so many years after the event. It is in the nature of experimentation that some bits will work, and some will fail. Those bits which have worked have been endlessly referenced during the intervening decades, which inevitably alters their impact, making them seem more familiar and accessible; but back then, even the best bits were surprising and difficult. A sketch involving a list of cheese, transvestite lumberjacks or repeating the word 'spam' might just as easily have failed as one about 7 brides for 7 brothers, but for some reason the former have become much-loved classics, and the latter is still awful. Without the failures, we might never have had the classics.

(What's more, some of the stuff was actually topical back then, so that's bound to date badly.)

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Pingl

  • Saturday 13th October 2012, 11:34am [Edited]
  • England
  • 4,818 posts

Like the Goons, Python is better in the memory than when viewed. Both have dated, but both were revolutionary and without them comedy would be very different today. It is hard to go back in time and remember just how new this all was. Is it still funny? Some of it yes, some of it no, it was hit and miss when first broadcast. Some of it is funny because it reminds you of your youth. The films have stood up much better, historical settings saving them to some extent. It remains a classic even if it is becoming an historical relic.

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Jakob Jensen

  • Saturday 13th October 2012, 1:02pm
  • Denmark
  • 201 posts
Quote: Jinky @ October 13 2012, 12:34 AM BST

Hmmm....The Goons still have a claim on that title.

I heard the phytons talk about the goons, but never seen their act. Didn't quite reach abroad to scandinavia back then.

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Matthew Stott

  • Saturday 13th October 2012, 1:04pm
  • Yemen
  • 19,296 posts

I reckon Peter Cook, who is pre-Python, can also claim a place in the pantheon of 'modern-comedy-inventerors'.

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Pingl

  • Saturday 13th October 2012, 1:09pm [Edited]
  • England
  • 4,818 posts
Quote: Matthew Stott @ October 13 2012, 1:04 PM BST

I reckon Peter Cook, who is pre-Python, can also claim a place in the pantheon of 'modern-comedy-inventerors'.

Invention isn't the same as popularisation, as Spike Milligan would ruefully say.

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youngian

  • Saturday 13th October 2012, 11:06pm [Edited]
  • England
  • 1,727 posts

Most sketch shows of the past two decades, Fast Show, Little Britain, Cathering Tate, is essentially reworking the same material, catchphrases and characters every week.

Python was always trying to be fresh and its material has passed into popular venacular. I still find a lot I missed the first time around in their sketches. It seems just as it was a given that everything they did was hilarous in the early 70s, it's now popular to slag it off and say it was never really funny.

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Pingl

  • Saturday 13th October 2012, 11:10pm [Edited]
  • England
  • 4,818 posts
Quote: youngian @ October 13 2012, 11:06 PM BST

Most sketch shows of the past two decades, Fast Show, Little Britain, Cathering Tate, is essentially reworking the same material, catchphrases and characters every week.

Python was always trying to be fresh and its material has passed into popular venacular. I still find a lot I missed the first time around in their sketches. It seems just as it was a given that everything they did was hilarous in the early 70s, it's now popular to slag it off and say it was never really funny.

I guess it depends on your age, familiarity can breed contempt