Monty Python's Flying Circus Page 2

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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Ben

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 9:17am
  • England
  • 18,350 posts
Quote: youngian @ October 13 2012, 11:06 PM BST

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 hilarious in the early 70s, it's now popular to slag it off and say it was never really funny.


I don't think it's popular to slag it off. I still know people who think it's an untouchable cornerstone of British comedy. These are usually casual comedy fans who have only seen the 'Best Of' shows though. I wouldn't say it was "never really funny" as some sketches still make me laugh years after seeing them e.g. Upper class twit of the year. I've just found the individual shows had a lot more misses than hits. I'd say more recent shows like Big Train, Armstrong and Miller, The Fast Show had a higher hit ratio, but maybe we need to reassess them in 30 years to be fair.

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fasty

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 10:30am
  • Derbys, England
  • 301 posts

I guess it depends on your age at the time and the fact it was 'cool' to watch it as your parents didn't like it. It was always the topic of conversation on the school bus next day.

We used to tape (reel-to-reel obviously) it by hanging a microphone over the TV speaker and constantly re-listen to it. Some of the lines/gags are still firmly enshrined in a memory that can't seem to retain important stuff :$

For example .....

Quote: Steve Sunshine @ October 13 2012, 12:19 AM BST

Lemming of the BDA.


In Leicestershire there's a village called Stapleton - every time I go through it I can't help asking where the fillings are Errr

As said though, with hindsight there's a lot of crap but some real gems too. Still giggle at The Fish Slapping Dance Laughing out loud

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Nogget

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 11:30am
  • England
  • 6,616 posts

The unfunny bits of Python are like the ore from which the comedy gold can be found. You have to have the ore, else they'd be no gold.

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Ben

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 11:34am
  • England
  • 18,350 posts

I like Lemming of the BDA. Don't think it's one of the best known Python sketches, but still worth a watch.

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Pingl

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 11:40am [Edited]
  • England
  • 4,818 posts

The undertaker sketch, genius, far ahead of its time. Cleese and Chapman at their acid best.

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Gordon Bennett

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 12:17pm [Edited]
  • Basel, Switzerland
  • 19,141 posts

I like it when they deconstruct social structures or habits and show the natural silliness or absurdity of things we take for granted by carrying certain elements to excess.
Two of my favourite sketches are "the Australian mosquito hunters" and "Bycicle Repair Man".

Cool was how they deconstructed the rules of comedy in general, for example by omitting the punchline or stretching the length of a sketch far beyond of what's regarded as being funny and therefore deliberatly ruining the timing.
Or the rules of televisual presentation for example by bringing the opening theme tune far into the show or even five minutes before the end.
These things were cutting edege when it was originally transmitted and many comedians benefitted from these 'experiments' in the years after. But these things are also a bit bit dated nowadays and aren't that funny anymore. but the older ones among us appreaciate what the Pythons have achieved with their stuff (comedy revolution?) but many of the younger people don't have the chance to understand what's all the fuss about because they were raised way after the comedy revolution and take what they have for granted and don't realize that comedy before the 60s or 70s was more limited.
It's like with the Beatles who introduced sampling (take "Tomorrow Never Knows") to the mainstream, a technique that's pretty normal these days but was unthinkable before the Beatles did it. For yonger ears the Beatles must sound dated and boring. But they were avantgarde to a certain extent. like MP.

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Pingl

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 6:10pm [Edited]
  • England
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If you want to trace modern comedy back to its roots you tend to end up with Spike Milligan. He in turn was influenced by J B Morton and many American cartoon films, The Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy etc. But Milligan made the surreal mainstream with the Goons, although shows like It's That Man Again had elements of this already. Milligan's Q series, which pre-dated Python, was incredibly hit and miss but had many of the elements of Python in it. Terry Jones said than when he first saw Q7 he thought "shit, Spike has beaten us to it". But it was Python that broke America, became this huge success. In much the same way that the Beatles eclipsed the earlier pioneers of pop.

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Gordon Bennett

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 6:24pm [Edited]
  • Basel, Switzerland
  • 19,141 posts

That's right. The Beatles (maybe the Pythons too) weren't even the first to do that thing they did. But they succesfully introduced it to the mainstream. Maybe a show like Spaced wouldn't be possible without Python. Even if Spaced appears to be sexier, faster whatever...better edited.

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Pingl

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 6:33pm [Edited]
  • England
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Quote: Gordon Bennett @ October 14 2012, 6:24 PM BST

That's right. The Beatles (maybe the Pythons too) weren't even the first to do that thing they did. But they succesfully introduced it to the mainstream. Maybe a show like Spaced wouldn't be possible without Python. Even if Spaced appears to be sexier, faster whatever...better edited.


They are all stepping stones, there was a book called 'From Fringe to Flying Circus' that studied the lineage and results of that type of humour from Beyond the Fringe to Python, I can't remember who wrote it now but it's well worth a read.

It's by Roger Wilmut and is available from Amazon.

Buy at Amazon

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Gordon Bennett

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 6:54pm
  • Basel, Switzerland
  • 19,141 posts
Quote: Pingl @ October 14 2012, 6:33 PM BST

They are all stepping stones, there was a book called 'From Fringe to Flying Circus' that studied the lineage and results of that type of humour from Beyond the Fringe to Python, I can't remember who wrote it now but its well worth a read.

It's by Roger Wilmut and is available from Amazon


I'm studying media sciences so this book could be interesting.

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Pingl

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 7:11pm
  • England
  • 4,818 posts
Quote: Gordon Bennett @ October 14 2012, 6:54 PM BST

I'm studying media sciences so this book could be interesting.

It's been a few years since I read it, but I remember it being very interesting.

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Pasher

  • Tuesday 6th November 2012, 8:43am
  • Swansea, Wales
  • 8 posts

It just looks so dated now

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Tursiops

  • Tuesday 6th November 2012, 10:43am
  • Welwyn Garden City, England
  • 9,788 posts
Quote: Pasher @ November 6 2012, 8:43 AM GMT

It just looks so dated now


Nothing dates faster than the avant-garde.

Quote: Pingl @ October 14 2012, 6:33 PM BST

It's by Roger Wilmut and is available from Amazon.


A decent read, though I recall even then being bemused by the repeated insistence that Terry Jones future lay in the field of mime.

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Pingl

  • Tuesday 6th November 2012, 11:41am [Edited]
  • England
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Quote: Tursiops @ November 6 2012, 10:43 AM GMT

Nothing dates faster than the avant-garde.

A decent read, though I recall even then being bemused by the repeated insistence that Terry Jones future lay in the field of mime.


It was definitely dated, well before alternative comedy, I think he tried to update it to include The Comic Strip stuff etc, except there was no real connection apart from the fact they watched it on TV, so it didn't really work. I suppose the next genuine line would be Fry and Laurie, then Mitchell and Webb, but it's not such an important movement after the seventies.

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Matthew Stott

  • Tuesday 6th November 2012, 11:47am
  • Yemen
  • 19,296 posts
Quote: Pasher @ November 6 2012, 8:43 AM GMT

It just looks so dated now


You're telling me, it's as though it was made in the seventies or something!