Underrated Python, Take Two - Macleans.ca

Underrated Python, Take Two


The comments on my “Favourite Lesser-Known Monty Python Sketches” were great. I’d just like to follow up by posting a couple of sketches that weren’t mentioned in the original post.

This early sketch is one of my favourites, even though in some ways it’s one of the most conventional, un-Python sketches except for its lack of a punchline: it’s a very simple, traditional premise, taking a typical situation from theatre or movies and reversing it. (What if, instead of all the plays about a white-collar guy and his blue-collar family, we had a story about a “working-class playwright” confronting his well-dressed coal miner son?) But it’s a nearly perfectly-executed sketch, with one of Graham Chapman’s best performances.

Of the many documentary parodies the show did, one of my favourites is one one on “Ken Clean-Air System,” the stupidest boxer on earth. I think it’s just that I always laugh when John Cleese plays a really stupid athlete (the sketch where he’s a dumb football player on a pretentious sports interview show is also memorable).

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The “Crackpot Religions” sketch is really less of a sketch and more of a series of little vignettes on a theme, but it has some of my favourite bits: Eric Idle’s “Arthur Crackpot” act (“I can’t touch it, there’s no return on it”), Palin’s reaction to winning the entire Norwich City Council, and Idle as John Lennon (whose birthday it is today), saying “I’m starting a war for peace.”

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Underrated Python, Take Two

  1. Didn't comment before but I personally love Flying Lessons, in which Terry Jones enters an office for flying lessons only to find Graham Chapman floating in midair from an obvious wire. Chapman orders him to flap his arms and jump off the desk, then berates him when it doesn't work. Jones protests that he wanted to learn to fly an aeroplane, and Chapman mocks him. "Oh! An aeroplane! Pardon me, I'm off to play the grand piano!" Jones points out that humans can't fly, Chapman offers himself as a example, Jones calls out Chapman for being on a wire. Chapman demonstrates with a hoop which he blatantly splits open before putting over himself. Jones complains that the hoop's got a hole in it; Chapman argues that of course it's got a hole in it, it wouldn't be a hoop otherwise. Any sketch in which a character continually denies the obvious I pretty much love, but this one seems more overlooked than an example like Dead Parrot.

  2. "The Mouse Problem" is another early sketch that is also pretty conventional, but very funny–with a large share of the credit again going to Cleese's performance.

  3. I didn't include the Northern Playwright sketch as I considered it fairly well-know although it is one of my favourites.

    That's the same reason I didn't include, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FatHLHG2uGY&fe… although this is apparently the original and it wasn't a Monty Python sketch, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eDaSvRO9xA.

    I had never seen Ken Clean-Air System before though. Thaks for that one.