Monty Python was a British comedy troupe. They created the sketch show Monty Python's Flying Circus, a comedy series commissioned by the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). It ran from October 5, 1969, to December 5, 1974, on BBC One, completing four seasons, with 45 episodes in total.
Despite the crude, random appearance, the humor of the show was quite sophisticated, poking fun at famous historical figures, literary beacons, and noted philosophers.
The writers and principal performers were
Although Gilliam's contributions were mainly the animations, often used to link sketches together, he did appear occasionally in person as a character. He was also the only American in the troupe.
Carol Cleveland also often appeared when the script called for a female actress.
The Spanish Inquisition
This consisted of the recurring entrance of three characters dressed in ecclesiastical attire, in response to the denouement of previous sketches where one of the characters, becoming frustrated by repeated questioning, erupts: "I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!"
At this point the ensemble of the Inquisition—consisting of Cardinals Ximinez (Michael Palin), Biggles (Terry Jones), and Fang (Terry Gilliam)—would burst into the room, with Ximinez declaring: "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise, surprise and fear—Our two chief weapons... etc." The only instruments of torture to have been deployed by Ximinez, Biggles and Fang were the "soft cushions" and the "comfy chair".
This phrase has now passed down into common usage, so that when someone is being questioned, they might reply, "I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition."
The Parrot Shop Sketch
Sometimes known as the "Dead Parrot Sketch", this is one of the most popular sketches and is arguably one of the most famous in the history of British television comedy .
In it a customer, played by Cleese, and a shopkeeper (Palin), are discussing the earthly status of a parrot sold previously in the shop. Palin is arguing that the parrot is alive, but merely "having a kip" (sleeping), or is "shagged out after a long squark". Cleese is not convinced and argues vociferously that the parrot, is, in fact, completely dead.
Soon after Palin claims that the parrot's lack of movement is due to the parrot "pining for the fjords", the sketch builds to a climax with a diatribe from Cleese who in the following excerpt, uses almost every available euphemism for death in the English language:
"It's not pinin', it's passed on! This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late parrot. It's a stiff, bereft of life, it rests in peace, if you hadn't nailed it to the perch it would be pushing up the daisies! It has rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible! This is an ex-parrot!"
The LumberJack Song
The sketch appears in various different forms, but each time, it starts with a man who expresses discontent with his current job. On some occasions this is the owner of the pet shop in The Parrot Shop Sketch, who starts by saying: "I didn't want to do this job. I wanted to be a lumberjack!"
He then proceeds to sing a song which glorifies the life of a lumberjack, and paints a picture of rugged masculinity: "Leaping from tree to tree", "With my best girl by my side". As the song continues, the lumberjack begins to reveal some less than rugged tendencies: "I cut down trees, I skip and jump, I like to press wild flowers, I put on women's clothing, and hang around in bars", which begins to distress the girl at his side. In the final verse, Palin confesses that he likes to "... wear high heels, suspenders and a bra", and wishes that he "...had been a girlie, just like my dear papa!"
The sketch ends with the girl exclaiming "..and I thought you were so rugged!"
This consists of a customer (Cleese) wishing to purchase "some cheesy comestibles" from the "stout yeoman" or cheese shop proprietor (Palin). The humor of the sketch rests upon the frustration that Cleese encounters as he asks Palin about the availability of different kinds of cheeses. In every case, Palin comes up with excuses as to why that particular variety of cheese is not in stock. Excuses range from: "The van only comes on a Thursday", "It's too runny" to "The cat's got it". Cleese tries every known type of cheese including the fictional Venezuelan beaver cheese, finally giving up and asking for Cheddar. Of course, Palin does not have this in stock, saying "There's not much call for it around here".
The denouement of the sketch is that Cleese gets so frustrated that he shoots Palin, saying "What a senseless waste of human life."
The team produced five feature length cinema releases between 1971 and 1983. These were:
- And Now For Something Completely Different (1971).
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).
- Life of Brian (or Monty Python's Life of Brian) (1979).
- Monty Python Live At The Hollywood Bowl (1982).
- The Meaning of Life (1983).
Life of Brian caused much controversy, including allegations of blasphemy by Christians, when it was originally released as it depicts the life and subsequent crucifixion of a young Judean called Brian of Nazareth.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-1974).
- Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus (1972).
- Monty Python's Personal Best (2006).
- Monty Python's Flying Circus (1970).
- Another Monty Python Record (1971).
- Monty Python's Previous Record (1972).
- The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief (1973).
- Monty Python Live At Drury Lane (1974 (1994 in US)).
- Monty Python's Tiny Black Round Thing (1974).
- The Album of the Soundtrack of the Trailer of the Film of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).
- Monty Python Live at City Center (1976 in US, never in UK).
- The Monty Python Instant Record Collection (1977).
- Monty Python's Life Of Brian (1979).
- Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album (1980).
- Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life (1983).
- The Final Rip Off (1988).
- Monty Python Sings (1989).
- The Ultimate Monty Python Rip Off (1994).
- The Instant Monty Python CD Collection (1994).
- The Hastily Cobbled Together for a Fast Buck Album (Never released).
- Monty Python's Spamalot-Original Broadway Cast (2005).
- Spamalot-based upon "Monty Python and the Holy Grail".
- Not The Messiah (He's a Very Naughty Boy)-based upon "Life of Brian".
- Parrot Sketch Not Included-20 Years of Monty Python (October 5, 1989).
- Monty Python Live at Aspen (March 21, 1998)
- Python Night-30 Years of Monty Python (October 5, 1999)
- Monty Python's Big Red Book (1971 (1975 in US)).
- The Brand New Monty Python Bok (1973).
- Monty Python's Life of Brianscrapbook (1979).