Funny: Monty Python's Flying Circus
Can we just count this whole show as one giant Crowning Moment of Funny? No? Okay, then!
- For starters, let's mention the Self-Defense Against Fresh Fruit class. On its own it's just a one-dimensional joke, but the pure insanity of the self-defense instructor (played by John Cleese) kicks the whole thing Up to Eleven.
- As the sketch opens, the students are sick to death of learning about defending themselves against attackers armed with fresh fruit, but their protests go ignored.
Instructor: Now, self-defence! Tonight I shall be carrying on from where we got to last week when I was showing you how to defend yourselves against anyone who attacks you with armed with a piece of fresh fruit! (the students groan)
Michael: You promised you wouldn't do fruit this week.
Instructor: What do you mean!?
Terry: We've done fruit the last nine weeks!
Instructor: What's wrong with fruit?! You think you know it all, eh!?
Michael: But couldn't we do something else, for a change?
Eric: (smiles) Like someone who attacks you with a pointèd stick?
Instructor: (livid) Pointed sticks?! Oh, oh, oh, we want to learn how to defend ourselves against pointed sticks, do we? Getting all high and mighty, eh? Fresh fruit not good enough for you, eh? Oh, oh, oh, oh, well I'll tell you something, my lad!! When you're walking home tonight and some great homicidal maniac comes after you with a bunch of loganberries, don't come crying to me!
- The instructor finally establishes that he hasn't taught the class how to defend themselves against someone armed with a banana.
Instructor: Now, it's quite simple to defend yourself against the banana fiend! First of all, you force him to drop the banana! Next, you eat the banana, thus disarming him! You have now rendered him helpless!
Michael: Supposing he's got a bunch.
Instructor: ... shut up!
Eric: Supposing he's got a pointèd stick.
Instructor: SHUT UP!
- He tells them the key is to disarm the attacker and then eat the banana. What he doesn't tell them is that disarming the attacker involves shooting him, as one student (played by Graham Chapman) finds out the difficult (and fatal) way. As the students protest, they discover one of their instructor's fears:
Instructor: Look, I'm only doing me job! I have to show you how to defend yourselves against fresh fruit!
Eric: And pointèd sticks.
Instructor: SHUT UP!
Michael: Supposing someone come at you with a banana and you haven't got a gun?
Instructor: (pause) Run for it.
Terry: Well, you could stand- you could stand and scream for help.
Instructor: Yeah, yeah, you try that with a pineapple down your windpipe!
Terry: A pineapple?
Instructor: (alarmed) WHERE!? WHERE?!
Terry: Nowhere! I was just saying "pineapple"!
Instructor: Oh blimey, I thought my number was on that one.
Terry: What, on the pineapple?
Instructor: (panicked) WHERE?! WHERE!?
Terry: No, no, no, I was just repeating it!
Instructor: Oh. Oh, I see. Right.
- The instructor then forces Mr. Tinned Peach - er, Thompson (Terry Jones) - to lunge at him with a raspberry. Thompson is not so keen:
Instructor: Come on, be as vicious as you like with it!
Terry: (flatly) No.
Instructor: Why not!?
Terry: You'll shoot me.
Instructor: I won't!
Terry: You shot Mr. Harrison.
Instructor: That was self-defence! Come on, I promise I won't shoot you!
Eric: You promised you'd tell us about pointèd sticks.
Instructor: SHUT UP! Now, brandish that... brandish that raspberry! Come on, be as vicious as you like with it! Come on!
Terry: No. Throw the gun away.
Instructor: I haven't got a gun!
Terry: Oh, yes you have!
Instructor: I haven't!
Terry: You have! You shot Mr. Harrison with it!
Instructor: Oh... that gun.
Terry: Throw it away.
Instructor: All right. (throws his gun away) How to defend yourself against a raspberry, without a gun!
Terry: (outraged) You were going to shoot me!
Instructor: I wasn't, I wasn't, I wasn't!...
Terry: (overlapping) You were!...
Instructor: (overlapping) No, no, I wasn't, I wasn't!...
- The secret to defending yourself against a raspberry-wielding maniac without a gun? Drop a 16-ton weight on him. When the remaining two students protest the difficulty of this method, the instructor reveals yet another way to deal with a raspberry-wielding lunatic:
Instructor: All right clever dick, all right clever dick! You two, come at me with raspberries, there you are, a whole basket each! (hands Michael and Eric a basket of raspberries each) Come on, come at me with them, then!
Michael: No gun?
Michael: No sixteen-ton weight?
Eric: No pointèd stick?
Instructor: SHUT UP!
Michael: No rocks up in the ceiling?
Michael: You won't kill us.
Instructor: I won't kill you!
Instructor: I promise I won't kill you, now, are you going to attack me!?
Michael, Eric: All right.
Instructor: Right, now don't rush me this time! I'm going to turn me back so you can stalk me! (does so) Right! Come up as quietly as you can, right!? Close up behind me, then, in with the raspberries, right?! Start moving! (Michael and Eric sneak up behind him) Now... the first thing to do when you are being stalked by an ugly mob with raspberries, is to... release the tiger! (he presses a button, and the wall opens to reveal a wooden tiger which glides along rails toward Michael and Eric; sounds of roaring and cries of pain and alarm) The great advantage of the tiger in unarmed combat is that it not only eats the raspberry-laden foe but also the raspberries! The tiger, however, does not relish the peach! The peach assailant should be attacked with a crocodile! (turns to the empty room) Right! Now, the rest of you, I know you're there! Lurking under the floorboards with your damsons and your prunes... hiding behind the wall bars with your quinces! Well, I'm ready for you! I've wired myself up to two hundred tons of gelignite, and if any one of you so much as tries anything we'll all go up together! I warned you! I warned you! Right, that's it! (BOOM)
- As the sketch opens, the students are sick to death of learning about defending themselves against attackers armed with fresh fruit, but their protests go ignored.
- The random, persistent appearances of bit characters in the entire episode of "Face The Press", starting with the ever-increasing line of similar-looking delivery men, and ending with the Minister of Silly Walks himself just casually walking through the insanity of the Piranha Gang sketch on his way to work.
- The Funniest Joke in the World. A joke whose humor is so intense that the man who wrote it (and all who subsequently read the whole thing) died in a fit of shrieking laughter. Taken to hilarious extremes with its apparent use in World War II (in a German translation).
- Not to mention that it had to be translated one word at a time by different experts. One translator accidentally saw two words and had to spend many weeks in the hospital.
- Or Tommies shown running through a battlefield shouting its German translation: "WENN IS DAS NUNSTRUCK GIT UN SLOTERMEYER? JA! BIEHERHUND DAS ODER DIE FLIPPERWALDT GERSPUT!"
- The Mouse Problem, a thinly-disguised criticism of society's views on homosexuality during the late 60s ...
- ... especially funny considering a behind-the-scenes event that happened later, which combined Crowning Moment of Funny with Moment of Awesome. A woman sent a letter to the BBC saying that she heard one of the Pythons was gay and that whoever it was should be put to death. Graham Chapman was in fact gay, but — depending on who's telling the story — either John Cleese (because he wanted to leave the show anyway) or Eric Idle (who just thought the whole thing hilarious) anonymously wrote back to the woman assuring her quite solemnly that the gay Python had been unmasked and duly stoned to death. Cleese then, of course, failed to appear in the next series. The woman's reaction to this is unknown.
- ... and, of course, even more so given some parallels that could not possibly have been predicted when the sketch was written.
- The Dirty Fork. From a restaurant customer making a "by the way" remark about his fork, all the way to the entire restaurant staff scattered as dead bodies around the customer's table.
- One of the ways the Pythons enhanced the effectiveness of their humor was to eliminate the punchlines from their jokes. A snarky one-liner as payoff for an epic comic situation is to the Pythons what meat is to vegetarians. They demonstrate this in Dirty Fork (an occasion never repeated) with a deliberately bad punchline. "Lucky we didn't say anything about the dirty knife." Just as they predicted, the audience booed.
- Sam Peckinpah's Salad Days, which logically parodies Peckinpah's bloodlust by having an absurdly genteel version of the 1954 musical quickly degenerate into a bloodbath of severed limbs and unlikely impalements with tennis rackets and piano keyboards. Sam Peckinpah himself liked the sketch and showed it to his friends and family.
- Before there was Sam Peckinpah's Salad Days, there was Gardening Club. After a continuity announcer explains that the BBC are censoring the violence and nudity-filled scene that is supposed to follow in the preceding sketch (not that this stops him from describing said violence and nudity in some detail), he tells the viewers they will instead be showing Gardening Club. The scene opens with a shot of a flower bed, a string arrangement of the actual Gardening Club theme playing on the soundtrack... a tranquil atmosphere which is quickly shattered as a large group of people in various costumes and/or states of undress (including a Gumby and a pantomime goose) run toward the flowers and engage in what can best be described as a PG-rated orgy. The caption explains all by identifying the scene as Ken Russell's Gardening Club (1958).
- MY BRAIN HURTS!
- Any time Raymond Luxury Yacht appears.
"You're a very silly man and I'm not going to interview you."
- The "Storytime" sketch.
Storyteller: Hello, Children, hello. Here is this morning's story. Are you ready? Then we'll begin. (opens book and begins reading)note "One day, Ricky the magic Pixie went to visit Daisy Bumble in her tumbledown cottage. He found her in the bedroom. Roughly he grabbed her heavy shoulders, pulling her down onto the bed and ripping off her..." (trails off, stunned; flips over several pages, then gives the camera a slightly forced smile) "Old Nick the Sea Captain was a rough, tough, jolly sort of fellow. He loved the life of the sea. And he loved to hang out down by the pier... where the men dressed as ladies!?" (flips over several more pages, incredulous; eventually a technician pokes him with a stick from offscreen) Uh! Ah... (he gives the camera an even more forced smile) "Rumpletweezer ran the Dinky Tinky Shop in the foot of the magic oak tree by the wobbly dumdum bush in the shade of the magic glade down in Dingly Dell. Here he sold contraceptives and..." (trails off again, even more stunned, and flips over several pages) "Discipline"!? "Naked..." (turns the book sideways as if looking at a magazine centrefold) "... with a melon"?!
- The Burglar sketch, in which Eric Idle tells a housewife that he'd like to enter her house and steal a few things; she remains suspicious that he's actually selling encyclopaedias, but finally agrees to let him in. Sure enough, as he begins taking things from her shelves and putting them in his jacket, he muses, "Mind you, I don't know whether you've really considered the advantages of owning a really fine set of modern encyclopaedias!"
- The famous Lumberjack Song! "I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay! I sleep all night, I work all day! ... I cut down trees, I wear high heels, suspendies and a bra. I wish I've been a girlie, just like my dear mama!" (It's not until And Now for Something Completely Different that it's changed to 'dear papa'.) "Ooooh, Bevis! And I thought you were so rugged!"
"Dear Sir, I wish to complain in the strongest possible terms about the song which you have just broadcast, about the lumberjack who wears women's clothes. Many of my best friends are lumberjacks and only a few of them are transvestites. Yours faithfully, Brigadier Sir Charles Arthur Strong (Mrs). P.S. I have never kissed the editor of the Radio Times."
- THE BISHOP! "With 'R.F. Gromsby-Urquhart Wright' as the Voice of God"
The Bishop: (after failing to stop yet another clergyman from meeting a premature end) We was too late!
- Stig O'Tracy and Vince Snetterton-Lewis. Especially Graham Chapman's delivery of 'He says "I hear you've been a naughty boy Clement". And I say, "My name's not Clement"'.
- A Scotsman on a horse!
- It may be old now, but everyone remembers the first time they saw the Dead Parrot Sketch.
- Blimey, I didn't expect a Spanish Inquisition!
- "NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!" And them constantly messing up. And The Comfy Chair!
- The "How to Identify Parts of the Body" episode, especially the parts about "naughty bits".
- ...spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam... Consider all the random bits of goofiness on the sidelines here: lowering the couple in on wires, the Vikings chowing down, the Brick Joke when the Hungarian with the dirty phrasebook walks in and is promptly arrested...
- From the otherwise uneven final season, Woody and Tinny words...
- Exploding penguins and... BURMA!!!
- How Not to Be Seen. Particularly when one person doesn't fall for the Schmuck Bait of being told to stand up, and when a person is hiding behind one of three trees which they blow up one at a time until they find her. The combination of Deadpan Snarker and Captain Obvious in the announcer is utterly hilarious.
- The moment when Graham Chapman "improvises" his telephone hangup in the Flying Lesson sketch, as well as his disgusted reaction to the idea that his client wants to fly in an aeroplane rather than simply jumping off a table to fly.
"'Oh, oh, no more buttered scones for me, mater. I'm off to play the grahnd piahno'. 'Pardon me while I fly my aeyroplane.' NOW GET ON THE TABLE!"
- John Cleese's silly walks.
- The four Yorkshiremen skit (originally performed on At Last The 1948 Show with Cleese, Chapman, Tim Brooke-Taylor, and Marty Feldman). How ridiculous each story gets is hysterical. Especially this line:
Eric: I had to get up at 10 o'clock at night, half an hour before I went to bed.
- The 1979 Secret Policeman's Ball version, with Rowan Atkinson as the guest Yorkshireman, is outstanding, partly because of the pacing and the quality of the performances, but also because the director keeps returning to Cleese's reaction throughout: he becomes more and more stony-faced as the others' tales of woe become more and more outrageous, until he finally sits forward, says "Right -", and proceeds to top them all with the most terrifying childhood misery story in the history of the sketch, delivered with trademark Cleese intensity. Terry Jones is corpsing so much that he has to hide his face.
- The charity version with Vic Reeves, Harry Enfield, Eddie Izzard and Alan Rickman (!) at the Secret Policeman's Ball is also worth mentioning.
- The "Deja Vu" sketch. Particularly when the It's The Mind host, after rushing out of the studio only to mysteriously appear back inside, screams at the camera and rushes out again.
- The Argument Clinic, particularly Graham Chapman in the "Abuse Department" and the quite silly "Getting Hit on the Head lessons". Which is followed in "Live at the Hollywood Bowl" by this.
- The "crunchy frog" sketch, which may be J.K. Rowling's inspiration for the chocolate frogs of Harry Potter (At the very least, it is the source of Cockroach Clusters, another candy in HP).
- The episodes with an actual story (three times, all in all) can be this. The Cycling Tour of North Cornwall and its recurring gag "The pump got caught in m'trouser leg" is an underappreciated highlight. Then there's Mr. Gulliver's invention of a tomato which ejects itself just before a crash.
[tomato jumps out of Gulliver's glove box and through the car window]
Pither: Here!! That tomato's just ejected itself!
Gulliver: Really? It works! It works!! [CRASH]
- Non-Illegal Robbery. Hilarious all the way through, but the best part is this exchange:
Larry: We don't seem to be doin' anythin' illegal!
Boss: What d'you mean?
Larry: Well, we're payin' for the watch.
Larry: Well, why're we payin' for the watch?
Boss: (snorts) They wouldn't give it to us if we didn't pay for it, would they?
- Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook. Fun with foreign languages at its funniest.
Title card: In 1970, the British Empire lay in ruins, foreign nationals frequented the streets - many of them Hungarians (not the streets - the foreign nationals). Anyway, many of these Hungarians went into tobacconists' shops to buy cigarettes.....
Hungarian: Ah. Ah. (reading hesitantly from phrasebook) I will not buy this record, it is scratched.
Tobacconist: ... sorry?
Hungarian: (enunciating more clearly) I will not buy this record, it is scratched.
Tobacconist: No, no, no. This ... tobacconist's.
Hungarian: Ah! (he and the tobacconist point at each other in dawning comprehension) I will not buy this tobacconist's, it is scratched!
Tobacconist: No, no, no... tobacco... er, cigarettes? (picks up a pack of cigarettes)
Hungarian: (delighted) Yah!note Yah, ci-gar-ettes. (reading hesitantly from phrasebook again) My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels.
Tobacconist: ... what?
Hungarian: My hovercraft... (mimes smoking a cigarette) is full of eels. (mimes striking a match)
Tobacconist: Matches! Matches? (picks up a box of matches)
Hungarian: Yah, yah, yah, yah! (he takes cigarettes and matches and reads hesitantly from the phrasebook again) Er, do you wannnt... do you wannnt to come back to my place, bouncy bouncy?
Tobacconist: (thoroughly confused) Er, I don't think you're using that right.
Hungarian: (reading from phrasebook again) You great pouf.
Tobacconist: That'll be 6/6, please.
Hungarian: (reading from phrasebook once more) If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me? I... I am no longer infected.
Tobacconist: (takes phrasebook) May I... may I...
Hungarian: Yah, yah!
Tobacconist: It costs 6/6... (mumbling as he searches) "Costs six and..." Here we are... (reads from phrasebook) Yandelvayasna grldenwi stravenka. (the Hungarian looks very offended and punches him in the face) WAGHH!
(a policeman walking along the street suddenly stops and puts his hand to his ear. He starts running down the street, round corner and down another street, round yet another corner and down another street into the shop)
Policeman: What's going on here then?
Hungarian: Ah. (opening book and pointing at policeman) You have beautiful thighs.
Policeman: (looks down at his thighs, then back up again; outraged) WHAT!?
Tobacconist: He hit me!
Hungarian: (reading from phrasebook while pointing at policeman) Drop your panties, Sir William, I cannot wait till lunchtime. (points at tobacconist)
Policeman: RIGHT! (grabs the Hungarian and drags him out)
Hungarian: (by way of protest) My nipples explode with delight!
- The Boxer Documentary sketch.
"Every morning, Ken wakes up at 3 o'clock...and then goes back to bed again because it's far too early."
- From the German TV special, the Silly Olympics. Events include:
- The 100 yards for people with no sense of direction; when the starter fires his pistol, the runners scatter in all directions.
- The 1500 metres for the deaf; the starter fires his pistol repeatedly and screams at the top of his lungs, but the runners remain on the starting line.
- The 200 metres freestyle for non-swimmers; the competitors dive into the pool... and don't re-surface.
- The marathon for incontinents; as soon as the starter's pistol is fired, the runners bolt for the men's toilets en masse, and the lead keeps changing as, one at a time, they make a break for the nearest hedge to relieve themselves.
- The high jump, a film of a stunt dummy being thrown off a balcony played in reverse.
- The 3000 metres steeplechase for people who think they're chickens; a Canadian competitor has laid several eggs on one fence.
- The Chemist sketch, interrupted by a speech from the censor and followed by the Less Naughty Chemist Sketch:
Chemist: Right, I've got some of your prescriptions here. Er... (looks at bottle) who's got the pox? (customers look embarrassed) Come on, who's got the pox?... Come ON! (one customer looks at the floor and raises his hand; the other customers recoil from him) Catch! (throws customer his prescription) Who's got... (looks at bottle) a boil on the bum? Boil on the botty? (throws prescription to second customer) Who's got the chest rash? (female customer raises her hand) Have to get a bigger bottle. Who's got... (looks at fourth bottle) who's got wind? (the other customers back away from the only one not to have raised his hand) Catch! (throws customer the bottle)
(cut to screen reading "THE CHEMIST SKETCH - AN APOLOGY!")
Announcer: The BBC would like to apologise for the poor quality of the writing in that sketch. It is not BBC policy to get easy laughs with words like "bum", "knickers", "botty", or "wee-wees". (audience laughter) SHH!
(cut to presenter in front of screen)
Presenter: These are the words which are not to be used again on this programme! (clicks through the words B*M - B*TTY - P*X - KN*CKERS - KN*CKERS - W**-W** - SEMPRINI)
Young Woman: (walks on, confused) "Semprini"??
Presenter: OUT! (points off camera)
(cut back to chemist's; the chemist exits the back room with another bottle)
Chemist: Right, who's got a boil on his semprini, then? (a policeman exits the back room and hauls him away)
(cut to "A LESS NAUGHTY CHEMIST'S", complete with a sign on the wall and a sign around the chemist's neck advertising this)
Customer: (enters) Good morning.
Chemist: Good morning, sir.
Customer: Morning. I'd like some after shave, please.
Chemist: Certainly, sir. Walk This Way, please.
Customer: If I could walk that way, I wouldn't need after shave. (the chemist points accusingly at the customer; the constable appears again and carts him off)
- "I am not the brain specialist! No, no, I am not! ... Yes. Yes I am!"
- The Gumbies generally were made of this trope. "I THINK WE SHOULD PUT A TAX ON ALL PEOPLE WHO STAND IN WATER." (realizes that he's standing in water) "OH!"
- Ladies and gentlemen, The World of History is proud to present the premiere of the Batley Townswomen's Guild's re-enactment of 'The Battle of Pearl Harbour'.
- Used multiple times:
Person #1 (inquiring how much time has elapsed): How long is it?
Person #2: That's rather personal, isn't it?
- "How to Recognise Different Types of Trees from Quite a Long Way Away". The sketch which caused a whole generation of people to chuckle to themselves any time larch trees were mentioned.
Number one - the Larch. The... Larch.
Number one - the Larch. The... Larch.
Number three - the Larch.
- "Conjuring Today": Good evening. Last week we learned how to saw a lady in half. This week we're going to learn how to saw a lady in three bits and dispose of the body-WHOA! (gets chased off by police)
- The Bicycle Repairman sketch:
Announcer: Yes! Whenever bicycles are broken, or menaced by International Communism, Bicycle Repair Man is ready! Ready to smash the communists, wipe them out, and shove them off the face of the earth!... (voice rises hysterically) Mash that dirty red scum, kick 'em in the teeth where it hurts! Kill! Kill! Kill! The filthy bastard commies, I hate 'em! I hate 'em! AAAUUUUUUURRRRGH!
Announcer's Wife: Tea's ready!
Announcer: (calming down immediately) Coming, dear! (exits, followed by the knight with the rubber chicken)
- The military entertain us with a display of precision bad temper, followed by a display of close-order swanning about.
Presenter with Hook Hand: But now the men of the Derbyshire Light Infantry entertain us with a precision display of bad temper.
(cut to eight solders in two ranks of four, standing at ease)
Sergeant: (off-screen) Atten... SHUN! (the soldiers snap to attention)
Soldiers: (shouting in unison) My goodness me, I am in a bad temper today all right, two, three, damn, damn, two, three, I am vexed and ratty, (shaking fists) two, three, and hopping mad. (they stamp their feet twice while gesturing with their fists)
Presenter with Hook Hand: And next, the men of the Second Armoured Division regale us with their famous close-order swanning about.
(cut to sergeant with eight different soldiers standing at ease)
Sergeant: (shouting) SQUAD... Camp it... up! (the soldiers snap to attention)
Soldiers: (chanting in unison whilst mincing) Oooh! Get her! Whoops! I've got your number ducky. You couldn't afford me, dear, two, three. (making scratching gesture while executing right dress) I'd scratch your eyes out. (kicking chorus line style) Don't come the brigadier bit with us, dear, we all know where you've been, you military fairy. (on "military", they salute; on "fairy", they adopt a ballet pose; they then turn about and mince toward the back wall, then turn left and continue mincing) Whoops! Don't look now, girls, the major's just minced in with that dolly colour sergeant, two, three, ooh-ho! (they turn left, bring their fingers to their chins camply, then stand at ease)
- The Butcher Shop sketch. Eric Idle and Michael Palin are wonderful! Also a great collection of creative British insults.
- Confuse-A-Cat. Particularly Graham Chapman's 'reassuringly professional' vet from the opening scene.
Title Card: SUBURBAN LOUNGE NEAR ESHER
(a couple are watching their cat through the back window; the cat sits motionless on the lawn. A car is heard pulling up in front of the house; the door is heard opening and closing)
Husband: Oh good, that'll be the vet, dear.
Wife: I'd better go and let him in. (hurries off and returns with the vet) It's the vet, dear.
Husband: Oh, very glad indeed you could come round, sir.
Vet: Not at all. Now what seems to be the problem? You can tell me... I'm a vet, you know.
Wife: See! Tell him, dear.
Wife: It's our cat. He doesn't do anything. He just sits out there on the lawn.
Vet: (dramatically) Is he... dead?
Wife: Oh, no!
Vet: (even more dramatically) Thank God for that. (directly to camera) For one ghastly moment I thought I was... too late. (to different camera) If only more people would call in the nick of time!
Wife: He just sits there, all day and every day.
Husband: And at night-
Wife: Sh! Almost motionless. We have to take his food out to him.
Husband: And his milk-
Wife: Sh! He doesn't do anything. He just sits there.
Vet: Are you at your wits' end?
Wife: Definitely... (Husband opens his mouth to speak) Sh! Yes.
Vet: Hm. I see. Well I think I may be able to help you. You see... (he goes over to armchair and sits down, then gestures to the couple to do the same, which they do as he crosses his legs, pulls his glasses out of his blazer pocket and puts them on, and puts his fingertips together to look suitably serious and professional) Your cat is suffering from what we vets haven't found a word for. His condition is typified by total physical inertia, absence of interest in its ambience... what we Vets call environment. Failure to respond to the conventional external stimuli. A ball of string, a nice... (licks lips hungrily) juicy mouse, a bird. (removes glasses dramatically) To be blunt, your cat is in a rut. (the couple look distraught) It's the old... (replaces glasses) stockbroker syndrome, the suburban fin de siècle ennui, angst, weltschmertz, call it what you will.
Wife: (dabbing her eyes with a hankie) Moping.
Vet: In a way, in a way... (to himself) Hm, "moping", I must remember that.
- Secret Service Dentists. The whole thing is a hilarious semi-James Bond parody with lots of great jokes.
- The Penultimate Supper, It took him hours, and turning kangaroos into disciples can't be easy.
- The "Nudge Nudge" sketch is one of the few Python sketches to feature a proper punchline, but, as with all of their sketches, the build-up is much funnier, and the punchline is deliberately hammed up to make it anti-climactic. From "Mr. Nudge" asking his fellow drinker if his wife is "a goer" ("She sometimes goes, yes!"), leading him to ask if he's trying to sell something, then "Mr. Nudge" asking if the other man's wife is "a sport" ("She's very fond of cricket, as a matter of fact!" "... who isn't?"), suggesting she's "been around" ("Yes, she's travelled, she's from Purley!" "Oh, say no more, Purley!"), and asking if she's interested in "photographs" ("No, we don't have a camera!"), and finally making lusty "WOOAAAGHH!" noises, all the while punctuated with "Nudge nudge, know what I mean, nudge nudge, say no more!" and variations thereon. At which point the other drinker slams down his pint:
Man: Look! Are you insinuating something!?
"Mr. Nudge": Oh, ho ho ho, oh... yes.
"Mr. Nudge": Well, I mean, er... (chuckles nervously) I mean, you're a man of the world, aren't you. I mean... you've been there, haven't you? I mean, you've been around, eh?
Man: (folds arms and glares at "Mr. Nudge") What do you mean?...
"Mr. Nudge": Well, I mean, like, you've, er, you've, you've done it. (looks around self-consciously) I mean, like, you know, you've slept... with a lady.
"Mr. Nudge": (eagerly) What's it like?
(quick zoom in on the stunned man's face; huge artificial laugh from laugh track over groan from real studio audience)
- The Prejudice sketch. What makes it especially funny is Michael Palin's performance as the host.
Host: (in a serious tone) But as you know on this programme we're not just prejudiced against race or colour. (cheerfully) We're also prejudiced against - yes, you've guessed, stinking homosexuals!
- "20th Century Vole"
"A love story! Intercourse Italian style! David Hemmings as a hippy Gestapo officer! Frontal nudity! A family picture! A comedy!"
- "Silly Job Interview". Good-a-night-a-ding-ding-ding...
- The famous "Travel Agent" sketch.
- "Letters and Opinions" from episode five.
- "My husband, in common with a lot of people of his age, is fifty."
- "Well that's, er, very interesting, because, er, I am, in fact, made entirely of wood."
- "I think there should be more race prejudice." (slapped) "Less!" "Less race prejudice."
- The incredibly short sketch about the man and the police inspector - so short it's almost not a sketch, just a naturalistic exploration of the concept of Straight Gay:
Man: Inspector? I'm terribly sorry but I was sitting on a park bench over there, took my coat off for a minute and then I found my wallet had been stolen and £15 taken from it.
Inspector: Well did you er, did you see anyone take it, anyone hanging around or...
Man: No no, there was no one there at all. That's the trouble.
Inspector: Well there's not very much we can do about that, sir.
Man: [Awkward pause, quietly] Do you want to come back to my place?
Inspector: ...Yeah, alright.
- The interview with Sir Edward Ross, which becomes a bit too friendly; the host first calls him Edward, then Ted, then Eddie-baby:
Host: I didn't really call you Eddie-baby, did I, sweetie?
Ross: Don't call me sweetie!!
Host: Can I call you sugar plum?
Host: Pussy cat?
Ross: No you may not! Now get on with it!
Host: Can I call you 'Frank'?
Ross: Why Frank?
Host: It's a nice name. Robin Day's got a hedgehog called Frank.
Ross: What is going on?
Host: Frannie, little Frannie, Frannie Knickers...
- The would-be introduction of Harry Fink:
Compère: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Refreshment Room here at Bletchley. My name is Kenny Lust and I'm your compère for tonight. You know, once in a while it is my pleasure, and my privilege, to welcome here at the Refreshment Room, some of the truly great international artists of our time. And tonight we have one such artist. Ladies and gentlemen, someone whom I've always personally admired, perhaps more deeply, more strongly, more abjectly than ever before. A man, well more than a man, a god, a great god, whose personality is so totally and utterly wonderful my feeble words of welcome sound wretchedly and pathetically inadequate. (by now on his knees) Someone whose boots I would gladly lick clean until holes wore through my tongue, a man who is so totally and utterly wonderful, that I would rather be sealed in a pit of my own filth, than dare tread on the same stage with him. Ladies and gentlemen, the incomparably superior human being, Harry Fink!
Outside voice: He couldn't come!
Compère: (standing up) Never mind, it's not all it's cracked up to be.
- "The Fish Slapping Dance" is perhaps the perfect distillation of the random insanity that is Python, all in a convenient, easily-digested package.
- "International Philosophy": "The Germans are disputing it! Hegel is arguing that the reality is merely an apriori adjunct of non-analytic ethics, Kant by the categoric imperative is holding that ultimologically possessed only in the imagination and Marx is claiming it was offside!" (In a bit of Genius Bonus, it really was offside.)
- Emboldened by his Spirit Advisor, Arthur Pewtey attempts to invoke Heroic Resolve and get his wife back from the Marriage Guidance Counsellor currently shagging her in the next room:
Southerner: Now you go back in there, my son, and be a man. Walk tall. [Exits]
Arthur Pewtey: Yes, I will. I will. I've been pushed around long enough! This is it. This is your monent Arthur Pewtey - this is it, Arthur Pewtey! At last, you're a man!
[He opens the door very determinedly and goes back into the room.]
Arthur Pewtey: All right, Deirdre, come out of there!
Counsellor: [From behind screen] Go away.
Arthur Pewtey: Right. [leaves]
- The "Blackmail" sketch on its own is nothing special writing-wise, but something about the voice Michael Palin uses for the Smarmy Host character just so completely sells it that you're hard-pressed not to laugh.
- Every appearance of Graham Chapman's Colonel character reprimanding the show, especially:
Now, I've noticed a tendency for this program to get rather silly. Now I do my best to keep things moving along, but I'm not having things getting silly. Those last two sketches I did got very silly indeed. And that last one about the beds was even sillier. Now, nobody likes a good laugh more than I do, except perhaps my wife and some of her friends. Oh yes, and Captain Johnson. Come to think of it, most people like a good laugh more than I do, but that's beside the point.
- Albatross! The version at the Hollywood Bowl's just as hilarious. There are no censors there, and John Cleese takes full advantage of it. Plus, a rather hilarious ad-lib when he goes through the audience.
Cleese: You're not supposed to be smoking that!
- A quiet evening at home for two competitive dancers:
Chapman (in a ballroom dress): George?
Jones (in a tuxedo): Yes Gladys?
Chapman: There's a man at the door with a mustache.
Jones: Tell him I've already got one.
(Chapman slaps him around with a newspaper)
- During one of their many fake BBC continuity links, with Palin and Jones as announcers:
Palin: Well, it's five past 9, and nearly time for six past 9. On BBC2 now it'll shortly be six-and-a-half minutes past 9. Later on this evening it will be 10:00, and at 10:30 we'll be joining BBC2 in time for 10:33. And don't forget tomorrow, when it'll be 9:20. Those of you who missed 8:45 on Friday will be able to see it again this Friday at a quarter to 9. Now, here is a time check: It's six-and-a-half minutes to the big green thing.
Jones: You're a loony.
Palin: I get so bored, I get so bloody bored!
- The Buying a bed sketch, one of the most relentlessly random things they ever did.
Mr Verity: (after Mr Lambert has put a paper bag on his head because the customer said "mattress") Did you say "mattress"?
Customer: Well, a little, yes...
Mr Verity: I did ask you not to say "mattress", didn't I? Now I've got to stand in the tea chest. (drags a tea chest onto screen, climbs into it and starts singing 'Jerusalem' at the top of his lungs)
- A talk show host decides to "ask the man in the street what he thinks".
Woman in Street: (seductively) I am not a man, you silly billy.
Man on Roof: (pours himself some tea from a thermos, then sees camera) I'm not in the street, you fairy!
Man in Street: Well, uh, speaking as a man in the street- (gets run over by car) WAAGH!
- "The Naked Ant", Episode 12 of Series 1, is an entire episode of funny, bookended by the "It's" man running around and bouncing off assorted trees as a human pinball.
- Spectrum, a satire of current affairs discussion programmes, complete with Motor Mouth host:
Presenter: (talking at breakneck speed) Good evening. Tonight, Spectrum looks at one of the major problems in the world today - that old vexed question of what is going on. Is there still time to confront it, let alone solve it, or is it too late? What are the figures, what are the facts, what do people mean when they talk about things? Alexander Hardacre of the Economic Affairs Bureau.
Hardacre: (standing in front of bar chart with three columns; he speaks with the same intensity as the presenter) In this graph, this column represents 23% of the population. This column represents 28% of the population. And this column represents 43% of the population.
Presenter: Telling figures indeed, but what do they mean to you, what do they mean to me, what do they mean to the average man in the street? With me now is Professor Tiddles of Leeds University. (pull out to reveal Tiddles sitting next to presenter) Professor, you've spent many years researching into things, what do you think?
Tiddles: I think it's too early to tell.
Presenter: (shown in close-up again, speaking even faster) "Too early to tell", too early to say, it means the same thing. The word "say" is the same as the word "tell". They're not spelt the same, but they mean the same. It's an identical situation we have with "ship" and "boat". (holds up signs saying 'SHIP' and 'BOAT') But not the same as we have with "bow" and "bough" (holds up signs saying 'BOW' and 'BOUGH'), they're spelt differently, mean different things but sound the same. (holds up signs saying 'SO' and 'THERE') But the real question remains. What is the solution, if any, to this problem? What can we do? What am I saying? Why am I sitting in this chair? Why am I on this programme? And what am I going to say next? Here to answer this is a professional cricketer.
Cricketer: I can say nothing at this point.
Presenter: Well, you were wrong. Professor? (pull out to reveal Tiddles still sitting next to the presenter)
Presenter: (shown in close-up again, speaking faster still) Hello. So where do we stand? Where do we stand? Where do we sit? Where do we come? Where do we go? What do we do? What do we say? What do we eat? What do we drink? What do we think? What do we do?
(cut to sped up footage of the London to Brighton train, which eventually enters a tunnel; there is a loud crash)
Railway Signalman: (leaning out of the window of his signal box, shouts) Sor-ree! (is dragged back in by a growling bear)note
- After an extended sketch in which "Mr. Hilter", with his campaign aides "Ron Vibbentrop" and "Heinrich Bimmler", is running in the North Minehead by-election (his campaign rally isn't exactly Nuremberg, the audience consisting of three puzzled children and an even more bewildered yokel), a series of Vox Pops leads to a second appearance by the Spectrum presenter:
Interviewer: What do you think of Mr Hilter's politics?
Yokel: I don't like the sound of these 'ere "boncentration bamps".
Pepperpot: Well, I gave him my baby to kiss, and he bit it! On the head!
City Gent: Well, I think he'd do a lot of good to the Stock Exchange.
Second Pepperpot: No... no...
Bimmler: (thinly disguised as a yokel, complete with swastika armband) Oh yes, Britischer pals, he is wunderbar... ful. So. (takes a puff on a cigarette and waves)
Third Pepperpot: I think he's right about the coons, but then I'm a bit mental.
Gumby: I THINK... HE'S GOT BEAUTIFUL LEGS!
Tory Candidate: Well speaking as Conservative candidate, I just drone on and on and on, never letting anyone else get a word in edgeways, until I start foaming at the mouth and fall over backwards. (he foams at the mouth and falls over backwards)
(cut to Spectrum presenter at his desk)
Presenter: (speaking as rapidly as ever) Foam at the mouth and fall over backwards. Is he foaming at the mouth to fall over backwards or falling over backwards to foam at the mouth? Tonight, Spectrum examines the whole question of frothing and falling, coughing and calling, screaming and bawling, walling and stalling, galling and mauling, palling and hauling, trawling and squalling and zalling. Zalling? Is there a word "zalling"? If there is, what does it mean? If there isn't, what does it mean? Perhaps both, maybe neither. What do I mean by the word "mean"? What do I mean by the word "word"? What do I mean by "what do I mean"? What do I mean by "do", and what do I do by "mean"? What do I do by do by do, and what do I do by wasting your time like this? Good night.
- I Wish To Report A Burglary. A guy walks into the station to file a burglary report, but the officers end up telling him to file his report in different vocal registers.
- I'm sorry, I can't read this trope entry, sir. Can you try writing it in a higher register?
- CAAAALLING ALL SQUAD CAAARS IN THE AAAAAREAAAAAA!
- "Upper-Class Twit of the Year" dials the Upper-Class Twit trope Up to Eleven with its heroic yet profoundly stupid quintet of competitors doing what upper-class twits do best: running over old ladies, waking up the neighbours by slamming their car doors, heaping abuse on waiters, and generally displaying an almost complete lack of brains or manners. The adrenaline-charged commentary by John Cleese on these events exemplifies Mundane Made Awesome. Some highlights:
- The commentator introduces the competitors with short biographies. Vivian Smith-Smythe-Smith (Eric Idle) has an O-level in kennel hygiene, Simon Zinc-Trumpet-Harris (Terry Jones) is married to a very attractive table lamp, Nigel Incubator-Jones (John Cleese) has a tree as his best friend and is a stockbroker in his spare time, Gervaise Brook-Hamster (Michael Palin) is used as a wastepaper basket by his father, and Oliver St. John-Mollusc (Graham Chapman) is favoured to be the year's outstanding twit. In a way, this prediction comes true...
- The start of the race doesn't go as planned:
Commentator: (as the starter fires his pistol) THEY'RE OFF! (no reaction from the twits) ...oh, no, they're not. No, they didn't realize they were supposed to start...
- Vivian has no trouble jumping over the wall three matchboxes high, but Oliver proves less adept:
Commentator: (as Vivian hops over the wall) The jump of a lifetime, if only his father could understand!
(later, as Oliver tries and fails yet again to jump the wall) He doesn't know when he's beaten, this boy! He doesn't know when he's winning either! He doesn't have any sort of sensory apparatus!
- Gervaise gets a bit carried away with the "kicking the beggar" obstacle, putting the boot in repeatedly as the beggar yelps in pain until the race steward walks over and informs him that he can move on.
- When Nigel finally succeeds in waking the neighbour by slamming the door of his sports car repeatedly, the commentator shouts, "My GOD, this is exciting!"
- At the "insult the waiter" obstacle, Simon forgets what he is supposed to do and waves at the crowd instead. When he and his fellow twits have insulted the waiter and moved on to the next obstacle (ducking under a bar five feet off the ground), the waiter throws his tray into the air in disgust and storms off.
- Oliver takes himself out of the race, but in so doing proves himself perhaps the worthiest Upper-Class Twit of the Year:
Commentator: (shot of Oliver, dead beneath the wheel of the sports car in the "backing over the old lady" obstacle) And Oliver has run himself over! What a great twit!
(as the other twits attempt to remove the bras from four otherwise bare shop dummies, the camera cuts back to Oliver's body) No! There's Oliver, he's dead, but he's not necessarily out of it!
- Two of the obstacles require the twits to pick up guns, but they're poor shots, to say the least. When they have to shoot rabbits that have been tied to the ground from a distance of "almost one foot", Gervaise starts bashing his rabbit with the butt of his hunting rifle, while Nigel throws his rifle aside and begins attacking the rabbit with his bare fists. In the final obstacle, they have to shoot themselves with revolvers; Simon misses his own head and hits Vivian, handing him second place, and eventually he runs out of bullets and clubs himself to death with the butt of his gun to finish fourth.
- And we end with a pan-episode series of Call Backs to answer Robert (Terry Jones) when he asks "Has anyone anything else to say?"
Second Robert: No.
Third Robert: No. No.
Railway Signalman: No.
Bear: (shakes head)
Policeman Who Can Only Hear Low Frequencies: (sings) NOOOO!
Policeman Who Can Only Hear High Frequencies: (deep voice) No.
City Gent: No.
Animated Peacock: No.
Fairy Godmother: No.
Second City Gent: Bloody fairy...
Second Pepperpot: No.
Second Gumby: NO!
Nigel Incubator-Jones: (thinking hard) Ahh... no.
Ron Vibbentrop: No.
"Mr. Hilter": No.
Bimmler: Nein. ("Hilter" elbows him) No!
Animated Whale: No.
Tory Candidate: (lying on pavement) No, no, no, no...
Spectrum Presenter: (gets up and walks around to the front of his desk, speaking as quickly as ever) What do we mean by "no"? What do we mean by "yes"? What do we mean by "no, no, no"? Tonight, Spectrum looks at the whole question of what is "no". What is not "no"... (the 16-ton weight falls on top of him)
- Spectrum, a satire of current affairs discussion programmes, complete with Motor Mouth host:
- "All you have to do is... Spot the Looney!" Plenty of classic moments in this sketch:
- A panel of three guests is introduced - Gurt Svensson, a man dressed only in a green loincloth and green socks standing on his head (which is wrapped in orange cloth) and sporting the word "EGGS" on his stomach; Dame Elsie Occluded, a woman sticking out of the side of a block of concrete (with her feet sticking out another side perpendicular to her body) dressed in a green wig, flying goggles and gloves, and fairy wings; and Miles Yellow-Bird-Up-High-In-Banana-Tree, a man in a rabbit costume with a megaphone strapped to his eye. The phone on the presenter's desk rings; he answers it, chuckles, and congratulates the caller on having spotted that the entire panel are loonies.
- The presenter tells the viewers they are about to see photos of golfer Tony Jacklin, then-Chancellor Anthony Barber, author Edgar Allan Poe, TV presenter Katie Boyle, former Chancellor Reginald Maudling, and a looney. The screen cuts to a photograph of Anthony Barber... and a viewer immediately phones in.
- Having instructed the viewers to wait until all of the photos are shown (in order: Barber, Boyle, Poe, a looney in a red wig and comedy glasses with the words "A LOONEY" written on his chest, Maudling, Jacklin), the presenter confirms that the looney was indeed the second picture. He then has to issue a hasty correction that the looney was the fourth picture, and that Katie Boyle is not a looney... she is a television personality.
- The completely bonkers Ivanhoe "adaptation" (set in a modern butcher's shop with a "cast" comprising Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F'tang-F'tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel (from the "Silly Election" sketch), a man in a bee costume jumping up and down on the counter, a man in a knee-length vest dancing with a side of beef, a man dressed as a carrot squawking "Pretty boy!", and a man in oilskins and waders flying back and forth on a stage rope)... and the revelation that, as correctly guessed by Mrs. L of Leicester, Mrs. B of Buxton, and Mrs. G of Gatwick, the looney was the writer, Sir Walter Scott.
(cut to an outraged Scott in his study)
Walter Scott (Graham Chapman): I didn't write that! Sounds more like Dickens!
(cut to Dickens in HIS study)
Charles Dickens (Terry Jones): You bastard!
- The "Biggles Dictates a Letter" sketch, especially Biggles' argument with his secretary.
Biggles: No, no, no, you loopy brothel inmate.
Secretary: I've had enough of this. I am not a courtesan.
Biggles: Oh, oh, 'courtesan', oh aren't we grand. Harlot's not good enough for us eh? Paramour, concubine, fille de joie. That's what we are not. Well listen to me my fine fellow, you are a bit of tail, that's what you are.
Secretary: I am not, you demented fictional character.
Biggles: Algy says you are. He says you're no better than you should be.
Secretary: And how would he know?
Biggles: And just what do you mean by that? Are you calling my old fictional comrade-in-arms a fairy?
Secretary: Fairy! Poof's not good enough for Algy, is it? He's got to be a bleedin' fairy. Mincing old RAF queen.
- Mrs Niggerbaiter suddenly exploding.
- The doctor's subsequent explanation of how he uses explosives to treat various illnesses.
- Plus the sheer outrageousness of having a character called Mrs. Niggerbaiter.
- "Don't be so sentimental mother, things explode everyday."
- The man who speaks only the ends of words.
- Norman St. John Polevaulter, the man who contradicts people. Not so much the interview itself (which proceeds in a predictable fashion), but the way John Cleese (who is fondly holding a small pig) cuts it off after thirty seconds with, "And so on, and so on, and so on."
- ... He's coming to the studio tonight to talk about the Life of Tchaikovsky. Which is a bit of a pity as this is Farming Club.
- The Conquistador Coffee Campaign and its hilariously unexpected Running Gags.
- Advertising copywriter Frog keeps trying unsuccessfully to correct his boss' chosen term of address:
Manager: Ah, Frog.
Frog: S. Frog, sir-
Manager: Shut up. I want to have a word with you, Frog.
Frog: S. Frog, sir-
Manager: Shut up.
- The manager giving the camera a cheesy grin and holding up a sign reading "JOKE" each time he makes a joke; at one point, Frog changes his mind about his campaign being a joke and holds up a second sign reading "No, a sales campaign".
- Frog gets out of punishment by telling his boss, "Sorry, Father. (holds up "JOKE" sign)" His boss then tells him his film has won a prize. Cut to a clifftop, Felix Mendelssohn's "Hebrides" Overture playing on the soundtrack... until the gramophone on which it is playing gets stuck. The Announcer lifts the needle, apologises, and says, "And now for something completely di-completely di-completely di-completely di-completely di-completely different." Cue the "It's" man and the opening credits... which also get stuck about fifteen seconds in.
- Advertising copywriter Frog keeps trying unsuccessfully to correct his boss' chosen term of address:
- A bunch of women in bikinis, and now for something completely different. John Cleese in a bikini.
- "An appeal on behalf of the National Truss" doesn't quite go as planned when the frontwoman for the appeal (Eric Idle) can't remember her name.note
Frontwoman: Good evening. My name is Leapy Lee. (frowns) No, sorry, that's the name of me favourite singer. (smiles) My name is Mrs. Fred Stolle. (frowns again) No no, Mrs. Fred Stolle is the wife of me favourite tennis player. (smiles again) My name is Bananas- no, no, that's me favourite fruit. I'm Mrs. A Nice Evening Out at the Pictures Then Perhaps a Dance at a Club Then Back to His Place for a Quick Cup of Coffee and a Little Bit of- no! No, sorry... that's me favourite way of spending a night out. (thinks) Perhaps I am Leapy Lee. Yes, I must be Leapy Lee! Hello fans, Leapy Lee here! (sings) "Little arrows that will ke-" (phone rings; she answers) Hello? (to camera) Evidently I'm not Leapy Lee. Thought I probably wouldn't be. (into phone) Thank you, I'll tell them. (hangs up) Hello, Denis Compton here- no no, no no, I should have written it down. (looks in her handbag) Now where's that number? I'm Mao Tse-tung, I'm P.P. Arnold, I'm Margaret Thatcher, I'm Sir Gerald Nabarro... (picks up phone and dials the operator) Hello? Sir Len Hutton here. Could you tell me please- oh, am I? Oh, thank you! (hangs up and smiles to camera) Good evening. I'm Mrs. What Number Are You Dialling Please. (a boxer jumps into frame and knocks her out with one punch; cut to stock footage of Women's Institute applauding)