"One of the things we tried to do with the show was to try and do something that was so unpredictable that it had no shape and you could never say what the kind of humor was. And I think that the fact that 'Pythonesque' is now a word in the Oxford English Dictionary shows the extent to which we failed."And now for Something Completely Different...
— Terry Jones at the US Comedy Arts Festival, 1998
It's...Monty Python's Flying Circus was a British sketch comedy television series featuring the comedy troupe Monty Python that originally aired on The BBC from 1969 to 1974. The success of its uniquely surreal lunacy has also generated four spinoff films to date, each featuring the same troupe in multiple roles before and behind the camera.In its native country the show is considered by many to be the best British television program ever made, with the Pythons themselves regarded as essentially The Beatles of comedy (John Lennon and George Harrison were in fact huge fans, and Ringo Starr made a brief cameo in one episode). Monty Python invaded America with rebroadcasts on local PBS stations, two ABC late-night specials in 1975 and a 1988 video release. They found a relatively small but devoted and appreciative audience stateside and influenced many American sketch comedy series over the years. On either side of the Atlantic, the show is now so firmly entrenched in pop-culture that quoting a line from almost any sketch or one of the films triggers either a hail of quotes or a chorus of groans.The show became so popular abroad that in 1971 and 1972 the Pythons produced two special episodes for West German and Austrian television under the title Monty Pythons fliegender Zirkus at the Bavaria studios in Munich. The first was done in German (memorized phonetically as none of them spoke the language), the second in English, and consisted mostly of material not seen before (although there is a German version of the Lumberjack song). An English-language motion picture, And Now for Something Completely Different, featuring remakes of many sketches from the series, was released while the series was still on the air.After their original run ended, the Python troupe made besides their own films many more in various non-Python-related collaborations, and all its members went on to continued success in film, television and other media. However Monty Python, as a troupe, disbanded upon the death of member Graham Chapman (though fans often consider any film with two or more members of the troupe in it as a Python film despite this).As noted above, the show's seemingly random but actually highly sophisticated humour has spawned its own adjective — Pythonesque. Anything can happen during any given sketch, and usually does. Sketches end without punchlines, or the Pythons sometimes just stop mid-sketch and declare it all to be "too silly". Although the Pythons weren't the first to use these methods, they made them into an art form: postmodern, self-referential comedy, punctuated by Gilliam's absurdist animations and starring a whole lot of odd men in drag.Thanks for some of the description go to Monty Python's Completely Useless Web Site, which has loads of current information on the cast, clips, and a supply of original scripts.Vote on your favorite sketch here!
Some of the most Famous Sketches
- Anne Elk's Theory on Brontosauruses ("My theory, which belongs to me, is mine — ahem ahem!")
- Argument Clinic ("Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position." "Yes, but that's not just saying 'no, it isn't'!" "Yes, it is!" "No, it isn't!" *Beat*)
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Assurance of health, welfare and jaywalking.
- Bruce Sketch One Steve Limit: Averted, as everyone ends up named Bruce.
- Bruce: Michael Baldwin, Bruce. Michael Baldwin, Bruce. Michael Baldwin, Bruce.
- Bruce: Is your name not Bruce?
- Michael: No, it's Michael.
- Bruce: That's going to cause a little confusion, Mind if we call you "Bruce" to keep it clear?
- Cheese Shop (The Long List ending with A Senseless Waste Of Human Life "I'm afraid I'm going to have to shoot you now.")
- Dead Parrot ("This is an ex-parrot!")
- The Restaurant Sketch, aka: Dirty Fork (You probably shouldn't mention it.)
- Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook (Which gave us "My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels")
- Four Yorkshiremen (Which was not written for MPFC, but was instead created for At Last The 1948 Show, in which Cleese and Chapman starred along with Tim Brooke-Taylor and Marty Feldman. Its use in other Python stuff has led to many attributing it mistakenly to Python.)
- Lumberjack Song ("I put on women's clothing and hang around in bars... I wish I'd been a girlie, just like my dear Papa!")
- Military Fairy (Whoops! I've got your number ducky. You couldn't afford me dear. two, three)
- Nudge Nudge ("Know what I mean? Know what I mean?")
- Exploding Penguin Sketch ("BURMA!")
- Self-Defense Against Fresh Fruit ("No pointed stick?" "SHUT UP.")
- Spanish Inquisition ("NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!")
- Spam ("Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, LOVELY SPAM!! WONDERFUL SPAM!! LOVELY SPAM!! WONDERFUL SPAM!!"): Yes, Monty Python unwittingly inspired the current usage of the word spam in terms of e-mail!
- The Ministry of Silly Walks ("It's not particularly silly, is it? I mean, the right leg isn't silly at all and the left leg merely does a forward aerial half turn every alternate step.")
- Upper-Class Twit of the Year (Kick the beggar and insult the waiter.)
- The Funniest Joke in the World ("Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! ... Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!"). We have the translated version. (It's not really that funny, but click the note if you would like to know)note
- The Fish Slapping Dance (*HALIBUT*)
- Gumby Brain Surgery ("MY BRAIN HURTS! WE FORGOT THE ANESTHETIC!!")
- Undertaker/Cannibalism Sketch (So controversial, the BBC only barely allowed it to air.)
- "Are you suggesting we should eat my Mum?" "Umm...Yeah! Not raw, not raw, she'd be delicious with a few French Fries, a bit of broccoli and stuffing, delicious!" "Well, I do feel a bit peckish; No, no, I can't." "Look, we'll eat your Mum, then if you feel guilty about it, we can dig a grave and you can throw up in it." "All right!"
- How Not To Be Seen. If you have not seen the sketch, can you stand up, please. Boom Head Shot! This demonstrates the importance of watching the sketch, which demonstrates the importance of not being seen.
- And now...Number One...The LARCH.
- Spot The Looney.
The BBC would like to apologize for the following tropes:
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- Action Girl:
- The psychiatric nurse from "Hamlet".
- Also, Carol Cleveland plays an explorer in the "Jungle Restaurant" sketch in episode 29.
- Adaptation Distillation: Arguably some of the Python records have funnier versions of the sketches than the TV series.
- Affably Evil:
- The apologetic mass murderer, whose expressions of remorse ultimately lead the whole courtroom to honour him with a chorus of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow".
- The polite airplane hijacker in episode 16 combines this with Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain.
- All Just a Dream: Subverted in Cycling Tour. "So it was all a dream." "No, this is the dream, you are back in the cell."
- All There in the Manual: A lot of character names are never actually mentioned in sketches and only appear in the scripts, and are often jokes themselves. For example, the exasperated customer in "Cheese Shop" is named Mr. Mousebender.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: Trim-Jeans were real.
- Always a Bigger Fish: A literal example occurs in one of the animations, when the victim of the Fish Slapping Dance is eaten by a German fish that apparently doubles as a submarine. That fish is then eaten by a larger British fish, and then that fish is eaten by an even larger Chinese fish.
- Ambiguously Gay: Mr. & Mrs. & Mrs. Zambizi are a woman (Mrs. Zambizi) married to either a transvestite man, or another woman who occasionally acts like a man (Mr. & Mrs. Zambizi).
- Animal Athlete Loophole: Inverted in the "Science Fiction Sketch", where the rules of Wimbledon state that at least one human is to be involved in the final, preventing the Blancmanges from sweeping the tournament. They've prepared for this situation, by making sure the only human not eaten in the tournament is from Scotland, the worst tennis playing nation in the world.
- Done deliberately with the much hyped Page 71! of the second Python book: It's just a page with PAGE 71! written on it in huge letters. Followed by a reviews page; "Oh, what a disappointment."
- Ms. Anne Elk spends a lot of time building up to her theory on brontosaurii with a long series of throat-clearing coughs. Her theory (her first one, anyway) is that "All brontosauruses are thin at one end, much, much thicker in the middle, and then thin again at the far end."
- Anti-Humor: Sketches don't have punchlines and often are interrupted without a satisfactory payoff. The one sketch with a punchline (at the insistence of the BBC), the Restaurant Sketch, was designed to elicit boos from the audience at the end.
- Argument of Contradictions: In the "Argument Clinic" sketch, a man goes to the eponymous clinic for an argument, but all he receives is negation - which is to say, this.Man: An argument isn't just contradiction.
Mr Vibrating: It can be.
Man: No it can't. An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.
Mr Vibrating: No it isn't.
Man: Yes it is! It's not just contradiction.
Mr Vibrating: Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position.
Man: Yes, but that's not just saying 'No it isn't.'
Mr Vibrating: Yes it is!
Man: No it isn't!
- Artistic License – Animal Care:
- According to the "Fish Club" sketch, goldfish have a ravenous appetite and eat sausages, spring greens, gazpacho, bread and gravy.Announcer: (reading text on screen) "The RSPCA wishes it to be known that that man was not a bona-fide animal lover, and also that goldfish do not eat sausages."
Fish Club Man: Treacle tart!
Announcer: Shut up! "They are quite happy with bread crumbs, ants' eggs and—" (text shows "and the occasional pheasant" crossed out) Who wrote that?!
- Then there's the "Dead Parrot" sketch, in which it's a bit late for proper animal care; though bad animal care on the part of the incompetent pet shop owner is almost certainly the reason the parrot is no more, has ceased to be, and is an ex-parrot.
- According to the "Fish Club" sketch, goldfish have a ravenous appetite and eat sausages, spring greens, gazpacho, bread and gravy.
- Artistic License – Economics: Dennis Moore tries to alleviate poverty by stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, but his first attempt involves stealing lupins (a type of flower); after he is told lupins are worthless and to steal valuable things, he does such a good job that he bankrupts the aristocrats, and makes a peasant family wealthy. And then the poor family complain when he can only bring them what's left of what originally belonged to the rich (mostly silverware).Dennis Moore: "Blimey, this redistribution of wealth is trickier than I thought."
- Aside Glance: The cast members regularly did this, usually to express their disbelief with the situation.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign
- Ass Shove: In the "Military Court Martial" sketch, the presiding general keeps diverting the prosecutor with questions about minor details, like why the accused was presented with a special pair of gaiters from his regiment; the prosecutor tries to answer in the most polite way possible until...General: I want to know how he made them happy.
Prosecutor: (shouting) HE USED TO RAM THINGS UP THEIR—
General: All right, all right, all right, no need to spell it out!
- Attack of the Killer Whatever: Two of Gilliam's animations involved Killer Cars and Killer Houses.
- And the Monster Cat.
- Audience Participation:
- "Spot the Looney!"
- The only way the BBC would air the Undertaker sketch would be if the audience booed during the offensive bits and stormed the set after the final line ("We'll eat your mum, and then if you feel a bit guilty about it afterward, we can dig a grave and you can throw up in it!")
- Author Appeal: In universe; Mr Neville Shunt is so obsessed with trains that the characters in his murder mystery play spend more time talking about trains then discussing the murder that's just happened.
- Backhanded Apology: An Overly Long Gag in episode 32.
- Bait-and-Switch Credits: Several examples once the Pythons were established enough to start subverting not just sketch comedy tropes, but the very structure of television programmes.
- Episode 25 begins with fake titles and credits for a historical epic called The Black Eagle (purportedly based on a book by Rafael Sabatini), whose opening scene is interrupted by the real Title Sequence. The scene nevertheless goes on for long enough that early audiences were probably scrambling for the week's Radio Times, wondering if there had been another of the last-minute schedule changes to which Python was often subjected.
- Episode 29 opened with the opening credit sequence, music and all, to The Money Programme (a real finance and business programme that has been airing since 1966). Only when the presenter was revealed to be a comically money-mad Eric Idle who burst into song was the veil lifted.
- Episode 39 took this still further by opening with the Thames TV ident and a fake continuity link delivered by actual Thames continuity presenter David Hamilton, perhaps fooling early viewers into thinking their television was tuned to the wrong station until Hamilton announced, "But right now, here's a rotten old BBC programme!"
- Battle Strip: In "Scott of the Sahara", Ensign Oates stripped all his clothes off as he fights the giant electric penguin.
- Bawdy Song: Several.
- Bears are Bad News: One breaks into a signal box near Hove, and causes a train wreck.
- Berserk Button:
- You have to say 'dog kennel' to Mr. Lambert, because if you say 'mattress', he puts a paper bag over his head. So, for example, one asks to see the dog kennels.
- Yes, pet's department, second floor.
- If the button is pressed, you must sing "Jerusalem" a cappella to snap him out of it. While standing in a tea chest.
- "It's NOT A BALLOON!" - Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin
- Don't reject the designs of Mr. Wiggin of Ironside & Malone:Wiggin: Yes, well, of course, this is just the sort of blinkered, philistine pig-ignorance I've come to expect from you non-creative garbage. You sit there on your loathsome, spotty behinds squeezing blackheads, not caring a tinker's cuss about the struggling artist! You excrement! You lousy, hypocritical, whining toadies with your lousy colour TV sets and your Tony Jacklin golf clubs and your bleeding masonic handshakes! You wouldn't let me join, would you, you blackballing bastards! Well, I wouldn't become a Freemason now if you went down on your lousy, stinking, purulent knees and BEGGED me!
- You have to say 'dog kennel' to Mr. Lambert, because if you say 'mattress', he puts a paper bag over his head. So, for example, one asks to see the dog kennels.
- Bilingual Bonus: Like other Monty Python works, Flying Circus has a few moments for those who know other languages. The Chinese that John Cleese recites at the beginning of the "Conquistador Coffee" sketch, for example, translates "This is my friend Fu Chen Chang. My name is Gao; what's your name?" Especially awesome in this case, because "gao" is Chinese for "tall", which Cleese most certainly is.
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: The BBC would be better off if it was run by penguins.
- Black Comedy Cannibalism: The "Lifeboat" sketch and the "Undertaker/Cannibalism" sketch.
- Black Market: The porn shop which is hidden in a "tudor employment agency", until it is raided by Sir Philip Sidney, or Superintendent Gaskell from the Vice Squad, whoever that guy actually was.
- Blatant Lies:
- Mr. Anemone, the flying man is not hanging from the ceiling on a clearly visible wire. And he is not committing Implausible Deniability when he has to break a hoop that he flips over himself to prove that's he's not on a wire.
- There's nothing going on in the book-shop. Just ask the gun-wielding mobster.
- Dinsdale Piranha never nailed my head to a coffee table, said by someone with a coffee table nailed to his head.Mobster: No, there's nothing going on.
- Blessed with Suck: Mr. Horton, the man who makes people laugh, even when he's serious and miserable.
- Bloodier and Gorier: Parodied and taken hilariously Up to Eleven in the "Salad Days" sketch, which is a supposed film version of the incredibly twee, upperclass, turn-of-the-century stage play — Directed by Sam Peckinpah. Bloody Hilarious.
- Bowdlerise: Bowdlerisation ruined the "Summarize Proust" sketch by cutting out the marginally offensive part of a punchline (future versions changed it to a shoddily spliced version which simply cut the offending word instead of the whole exchange):MC: What are your hobbies, outside summarizing?
Contestant: Well, strangling animals, golf, and masturbating.
- Blowing a Raspberry: Napoleon Bonaparte in a sketch about a man with people living in his stomach.
- Boisterous Bruiser: John Cleese is most definitely this out of the group, being not only the tallest, but also the loudest and most intimidating of them all, as seen in the "Self-Defence Against Fresh Fruit" and "Dirty Fork" sketches.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In the "Dead Bishop Sketch", the family's reaction to finding said deceased clergyman is to call for the police, then the church, and finally the Church Police.
Mr. Bun: Morning.Waitress: Morning!Mr. Bun: What you got then?Waitress: Well, there's egg and bacon, uh, egg, sausage and bacon, egg and spam, egg, bacon and spam, egg, bacon, sausage and spam, spam, bacon, sausage and spam, spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon and spam, spam, spam, spam, egg and spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam, and spam, or lobster thermidor aux crevettes with mornay sauce, garnished with truffle pate, brandy, and a fried egg on top, and spam.
- The "Spam" sketch:
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
- The Lumberjack Song is possibly the most famous version. "I cut down trees, I skip and jump, I like to press wildflowers, I put on women's clothing and hang around in bars..."
- "Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, Panties... I'm sorry..."
- "Heinrich Bimmler"'s introduction in the North Minehead By-Election sketch is made of this:How do you do there squire? I also am not of Minehead being born but I in your Peterborough Lincolnshire was given birth to. But am staying in Peterborough Lincolnshire house all time during vor, due to jolly old running sores, and vos unable to go in the streets or to go visit football matches or go to Nuremburg. Ha ha. Am retired vindow cleaner and pacifist, without doing war crimes. Oh...and am glad England vin Vorld Cup. Bobby Charlton. Martin Peters. And eating I am lots of chips and fish and hole in the toads and Dundee cakes on Piccadilly Line, don't you know old chap, vot! And I vos head of Gestapo for ten years.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Characters would sometimes talk directly to the audience, consult their scripts in the middle of a sketch, and even complain about the show.
- Brick Joke: Many sketches were referred to later during the same episode, sometimes even later episodes. And like the original brick joke, many earlier scenes started making sense only later on.
- A notable example is "The Larch" sketch in "How to Recognize Different Types of Tree from Quite a Long Way Away", where the present shows the audience a picture of a larch over and over again. This is repeated over the course of the show, and seems to serve no purpose until the end credits, when one of the trees in the background is, indeed, a larch.
- And then seven episodes later, in the middle of the "Vocational Guidance Counselor" sketch, the counselor says "Time enough I think for a piece of wood." Cut to: The Larch.
- In the "Killer Sheep" sketch, a ratcatcher jokes that he's from a committee that's selected the flat as the venue of a cricket match. Later in the sketch, a cricket team shows up. Then another...
- The Cheese Shop sketch opens with a man entering said shop; inside, a group are playing a bouzouki and dancing. The shopkeeper initially thinks that the customer has come in to complain about the music. Nearly at the end of the sketch, the customer turns around and cries "Will you shut that bloody dancing up!" The shopkeeper turns to camera and remarks "Told you so."
- The Chemist Sketch opens with the BBC telling the Pythons not to use certain words, one of which is "Semprini". Later, in a Vox Pops section, one man claims that he uses an aftershave lotion called Semprini, and is promptly arrested.
- Bury Your Gays: Why Biggles killed Algy, and the Prejudice sketch with "Shoot the Poof".
- Butt Monkey: If the Pythons ever needed to drop a name, regardless of connotations, it tended to be "Maudling"; Reginald Maudling was a notable MP who faced a lot of scandal in his later career.
- Buxom Is Better: Who won the first prize in "All England Summarizing Proust Competition"? The girl with the biggest tits. And she didn't even have to summarize anything.
- Camp Gay: A frequent source of humor in the show's early days, something about which Terry Jones later expressed regret. It has to be said that Graham Chapman was a real life Straight Gay who hated this stereotype and preferred parodying it to playing it straight (so to speak). Also, when Graham first came out, Barry Took advised the team that the worst thing they could do was to stop making gay jokes.
- Camp Straight: Ginger.
- "Funny. He looks like a poof."
- Captain Oblivious
- Mr. Pither from "Cycling Tour" just doesn't understand that no-one is interested in his cycling tour. The most egregious case is a couple who are arguing over their relationship problems: his interference leads to the woman dumping the man; the man throws him out of the restaurant, which he just shrugs off; and when he passes the woman who is crying her eyes out, he comments that he had a "chat with her dad" before taking off.
- Also, Ron Obvious (who, oddly enough, is not a Captain Obvious, despite his name). He never notices that his agent is trying to get him to do crazy stunts, despite his increasingly massive injuries, until he finally dies from one of them. Which the agent tries to claim is another stunt.
- Caption Humor: This show was a frequent user of this trope, arguably a Trope Codifier.
- At one point in the frequently-restarted "Ypres 1914" sketch, the caption shows "Knickers 1914" at the beginning.
- During the "Spanish Inquisition" sketch, there's captions for "Diabolical Laughter" and "Diabolical Acting".
- During the "New Brain" sketch, whenever prices are mentioned, a caption pops up showing the price after decimalization of the currency.
- Carpet of Virility: Scott of the Antarctic. Ye gods.
- Cartoon Bomb: Given to the "It's" man at the beginning of a show, it explodes at the end.
- Also, one featured in the Season 3 opening animation. It even has the word 'bomb' written on it.
- Catch Phrase: "It's...", "And now for something completely different", and others. In fact, the latter phrase was originally from Blue Peter, but is only now associated with Python.
- Chairman of the Brawl: The lion in "Scott of the Sahara".
- Character Filibuster: Mr. Smoketoomuch, of the "Travel Agent" sketch, whose Meaningful Name has never even occurred to him before.
- Chatty Hairdresser: Subverted. "The Barber Sketch" contains a barber who pretends to be one of these, but both the chatting and the haircutting are only on tape.
- In a later episode, a group of these climb Mt Everest.
- Chewing the Scenery: The padre from the Ypres sketch, which lands him in a hospital that treats overacting.
- The Chick: Carol Cleveland has essentially been called "the seventh Python" due to the fact that she's been in almost all their episodes and, while is not usually seen amongst them in publicity shots or so, she is just as devoted to the humour and madness as any of them.
- Cliffhanger Copout: In "Cycling Tour", Mr. Pither and Mr. Gulliver find themselves in Soviet Russia facing a firing squad, who after several failed attempts at shooting Mr. Pither, attach bayonets to their guns, and try to run them through. We don't get to see how they escape, instead we get a caption noting a missing scene, and then the two men appear back in Britain, safe and sound.
- Clothing Damage: The "Scott in the Sahara" sketch includes a scene where Carol Cleveland's character is running away and keeps getting her clothing caught on and pulled off by cacti. The cacti are separated so far away from each other that it quickly becomes obvious that she's deliberately running from one cactus to the next so that this can happen.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Pick a character. Any character. (Averted with Arthur Putey.)
- Comically Missing the PointJohn Cleese: It was from such an unlikely beginning as an unwanted fungus accidentally growing on a sterile plate that Sir Alexander Fleming gave the world penicillin. James Watt watched an ordinary household kettle boiling and conceived the potentiality of steam power. Would Albert Einstein ever have hit upon the Theory of Relativity if he hadn't been clever? All of these tremendous leaps forward have been taken in the dark; would Rutherford ever have split the atom if he hadn't tried? Could Marconi have invented the radio if he hadn't by pure chance spent years working at the problem? Are these amazing breakthroughs ever achieved except by years and years of unlimiting study? Of course not. What I said earlier about accidental discoveries must have been wrong.
- The 'Science Fiction' sketch features a woman going to the police after seeing a blancmange on the tennis courts. The desk sergeant is more interested in the fact that she was playing mixed doubles with five people.
- The Comically Serious: The Colonel, who stops sketches for being silly.
- Graham Chapman in general tends to be the straight man of the group playing the most serious or deadpan roles.
- Creative Closing Credits: A Trope Codifier.
- One episode's closing credits, right after the "Irving C. Saltzberg" sketch, gave every name the "X C. Y-berg" treatment (Graham C. Chapmanberg, Eric C. Idleberg, etc.)
- The episode with the "Spam" sketch put everyone's names in menu items (with Spam, of course).
- The "Blood, Devastation, Death, War & Horror" episode had a Fun With Anagrams Running Gag, and the closing credits had the Python members in anagrams (Rice Lied, Torn Jersey, etc.), as well as the crew's titles.
- One episode ended with the BBC going bankrupt and having everything taped in a small household (until everyone got kicked out); the closing credits were handwritten on sheets of paper. One of which was an eviction notice.
- One episode featured a callback to a sketch set in a dirty book shop by including suggestive advertising copy or nicknames in the names of each cast and crew member (Michael "Bulky" Palin, Eric Idle (Actual Size - Batteries Extra), etc.).
- One episode ended with an inept hijacker who had appeared in several sketches reading the credits aloud as the theme music played in the background; he began with "The show was conceived, written, and performed by... the usual lot."
- At the end of the episode "Whicker's World", following the "Whicker Island" sketch, had every name with "Whicker" included (John Cleese Whicker, Graham Whicker Chapman, Alan Michael Palin Whicker, etc.)
- The very last episode lists the cast as "unsuccessful candidates" for election, with the constituencies being their actual hometowns (Graham Chapman—Leicester North, Terry Gilliam—Minneapolis North, Eric Idle—South Shields North, Terry Jones—Colwyn Bay North, Michael Palin—Sheffield North).note
- Credits Gag: In addition to many Creative Closing Credits, the placement of the credits in the show's sequence was a gag in itself.
- Of particular note is the episode "The Golden Age of Ballooning", where the closing credits ran about halfway through the show.
- The next episode, "Michael Ellis", went one step further. The end credits ran immediately after the Title Sequence. That is, less than 30 seconds into the show.
- The episode that started with the "Summarize Proust Competition" sketch rolled the credits right after that sketch.
- Conversely there are episodes in which the opening credits aren't run until more than halfway through.
- After the credits roll in the How Not to be Seen episode a BBC announcer states that the episode would be replayed for those that missed it. After the entire episode is indeed replayed in a highly compressed format, the credits are allowed to roll for a second time.
- Crosscast Role: All the Pythons dress up as women at least once. Terry Jones and Graham Chapman specialized in squeaky-voiced elderly ratbags, whereas Michael Palin and Eric Idle portrayed rather convincing middle-aged women, and John Cleese and Terry Gilliam were simply bizarre.
- Subverted in the "Piranha Brothers" sketch. So used are we at this point to seeing the Pythons as women that it comes as a bit of a shock when John Cleese, playing a gangster's moll, announces: "Dinsdale was a gentleman. And what's more, he knew how to treat a female impersonator".
- Frequent contributor Carol Cleveland, who was dubbed Carol Cleavage by the team, remarked that whenever they had written something for a female character that they thought was funny, they'd almost invariably play that character themselves, whereas if they gave it to her... well, she called herself the "glamour stooge".
- Cultural Translation: A few sketches were redone by the German comedy duo of Harald Juhnke and Eddi Arent. The one sketch about the difficult book shop customer gets a justification tacked on: Because the salesman's mother owns the shop and has threatened him that she'll disinherit him and give the shop to his brother if he doesn't manage to sell at least one book — that's the explanation why he puts up with the customer neither being able to pay for the book nor to read it. And the famous "Dead Parrot" sketch becomes... brace yourself... upped to eleven (this was probably the intention) with the dead parrot replaced by a plush parrot. And at the end, when the customer points out that the "parrot" he bought is "just a toy", the salesman states philosophically "Aren't we all but God's toys, somehow?", turning around and revealing that he's a wind-up android.
- Culture Police: "The Housewives of Britain" show a band of housewives going around imposing their conservative mentality on the British populace. Among their acts of cleaning up society are to cover up nude artwork, interrupt a scene from Othello of Othello and Desdemona in bed, and go on a book burning campaign against foreign literature like Jean-Paul Sartre.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The boxing match between The Champ and The Killer; The Champ lost his head twice in two separate bouts, he won the second when The Killer was disqualified.
- Curtain Call: In the episode about the Golden Age of Ballooning, at the end of the title sketch there's a curtain call of all of the actors in the sketch, featuring the butler.
- David vs. Goliath: Ensign Oates vs. the 20-foot-tall Electric Penguin in "Scott of the Antarctic".
- Deadpan Snarker: Eric Praline. One of the few examples that combines this with Cloudcuckoolander.
- Death Seeker: The McKamikaze Highlanders
- Decoy Protagonist: Turned Up to Eleven with "Up Your Pavement", which starts by elaborately introducing two cheerful hoboes who then immediately get run over by crime fighter Alex Diamond, who suffers from lumbago which is treated by Dr Koning, whose doorbell was above Rear Admiral De Vere, whose daughter helped uncover the secrets of the Royal Arsenal Women's College, which is being spied on by Len Hanky, hen-teaser; then the sketch is briefly going to be about the chairman of Fiat before being derailed via a hurricane of Decoy Protagonists until it ends up being about RAF fighter pilots.
- Also used in the Science Fiction Sketch, which opens on the "perfectly ordinary" Mr and Mrs Samuel Brainsample, before the narrator declares that nothing interesting is going to happen to them and instead focusing on a passing man who winds up getting turned into a Scotsman by alien blancmanges as part of a plan to win Wimbledon. The remainder of the sketch focuses on Charles, an anthropologist, and Angus Podgorny, a Scottish tailor. Until the very end, when the Brainsamples return to save the day by eating the blancmanges.
- Derailed for Details: Common. Just in the Dennis Moore sketch, John Cleese gets lost in discussions about his target practice, British botany, European history, human anatomy and Not Actually the Ultimate Question while trying to rob some nobles.
- Deranged Animation: Terry Gilliam, full stop.
- Didn't Think This Through:
- Eric Idle played a Scotsman who stormed into an airplane cockpit, leading to this exchange:Scotsman: There's a bomb on board this plane, and I'll tell you where it is for £1,000.
Co-pilot: I don't believe you.
Scotsman: If you don't tell me where the bomb is... if I don't give you the money... Unless you give me the bomb—
Flight Attendant: The money?
Scotsman: — the money, thank you, pretty lady — the bomb will explode, killing everybody.
Co-pilot: Including you.
Scotsman: I'll tell you where it is for a pound.
- John Cleese is a masked bank robber who realises too late that he's robbing a lingerie shop:Robber: Well, um ... what have you got?
Assistant: [politely] Er, we've got corsets, stockings, suspender belts, tights, bras, slips, petticoats, knickers, socks and garters, sir.
Robber: Fine, fine, fine, fine. No large piles of money in safes?
Assistant: No, sir.
Robber: No deposit accounts?
Assistant: No sir.
Robber: No piles of cash in easy to carry bags?
Assistant: None at all, sir.
Robber: No luncheon vouchers?
Assistant: No, sir.
Robber: Fine, fine. Well, um... adopt, adapt and improve. Just a pair of knickers then please.
- Eric Idle played a Scotsman who stormed into an airplane cockpit, leading to this exchange:
- Dirty Commies: One Eric Idle monologue sketch is of an etiquette specialist discussing what to do if your dinner party is interrupted by a Communist insurrection.
- The Disease That Shall Not Be Named:
- Like so:There once was an enchanted Prince, who lived beyond the wobbles.
One day he noticed a spot on his face.
Foolishly he ignored it and three years later died of GANGRENE.
- The original line was "cancer", spoken with the same voice. The female, English-accented narrator is deliberately badly overdubbed by the male, American-accented Terry Gilliam for the word "gangrene".
- And Now For Something Completely Different redoes the cartoon and keeps "cancer".
- The "Conquistador Coffee Campaign" sketch also got censored, because of its reference to cancer.
- Like so:
- Disproportionate Retribution: One sketch briefly mentions a man being investigated by the police for two years, convicted of not having a license for his car radio, for which he was subsequently hanged, "despite the prohibition of capital punishment, and a huge public outcry".
- Distinction Without a Difference: "Katie Boyle is not a looney - she is a Television Personality."
- The Ditz: The Gumbys.
- Dodgy Toupee: The three men who work in the toupee department of the store in the fourth series episode Michael Ellis are all convinced that their toupees are amazing. In reality, they don't even match their real hair in colour, and look just plain awful.
- Does Not Like Spam: Mrs. Bun in the "Spam" sketch, though her husband and the singing vikings love it. The Trope Namer.
- Don't Explain the Joke: Take your pick.
- Don't Like, Don't Read: In the "Spam" sketch, Mrs. Bun tries to order one of the spam-filled dishes with the spam removed, and argues with the waitress over it, despite there being two items on the menu with no spam in them, one of which was exactly what she was trying to order.
- "Down Here!" Shot: In a sketch, a sports commentator is talking to a bunch of horse jockeys and all we can see are the tops of their caps. Then another even more famous jockey comes over and we can't see him at all until he climbs on a Scully Box, at which time we can see his hat too.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: The first doctor from the "RSM Hospital" sketch.
- Drop the Cow: Holy Grail is the Trope Namer, but Flying Circus still had 16-ton weights, giant hammers, and a knight with a chicken.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Monty Python's very first U.S. exposure was on the 1974 NBC summertime series Comedyworld, which highlighted international comedy acts. They showed the Irving O. Seltzer sketch.
- Engagement Challenge: In the second of the German episodes, in order to win the hand of Princess Mitzy, her suitors were required by her father to climb to the tallest tower in the castle, armed only with a sword, and throw themselves out the window. Until the Queen pointed out that the region was running out of princes, and forced the king to change it to running down to the shops to get a pack of Rothmans. Then a second prince stole away the engagement by slaying a (wooden) dragon and claiming the Standard Hero Reward. At which point the original prince called in his evil witch stepmother to reclaim the engagement, and she cursed everyone in the kingdom to be turned into chickens. Including herself. At which point the kingdom was raided by chicken prospectors.
- Eureka Moment: In "the Olympic Hide-and-Seek Final", Francisco Huron has spent over 11 years looking for Don Roberts and is searching the Tagus Valley for him. He opens a garbage can and finds a sardine can, which not only clues him in to go to Sardinia, but to the exact spot where Don Roberts is hiding.
- Everything Explodes Ending: One of the many ways they Drop the Cow.
- Everything's Better with Penguins:
- One on the telly (that explodes).
- A giant one with electrified tentacles.
- Plus the penguins who are smarter than BBC programme planners.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: One sketch involved a man trying to get the head of a bank to donate a pound to Orphans, with the banker being utterly mystified at the concept of charity.
- Experimental Archeology: "Mr. and Mrs. Brian Norris's Ford Popular".
- Fan Disservice: Especially in the third season, with a nude organist playing a little fanfare before the opening titles.
- The episode "How to Recognize Different Parts of the Body" started with a lineup of beautiful women in bikinis, leading to John Cleese and the It's Man, also in bikinis.
- In the "Dull Life Of A City Stockbroker" sketch, a bare-breasted woman is one of the merchants.
- Insurance agent Ron Devious sells a vicar a car insurance policy that includes a "free nude lady"; when the vicar leaves Devious' office, he takes with him a shopping trolley that has a naked girl sitting in it.
- Subverted in a few cases. In "And now, a bit of fun," a busty blonde woman does a striptease, but the footage is sped up so fast it's very difficult to actually see anything. "Scott of the Sahara" has a topless Carol Cleveland running on a beach, but is only shown from behind.
- Also subverted with the "Full-frontal nudity" episode. Things keep getting in the way...
- This was Carol Cleveland's primary role for most of her appearances on the show.
- No we never do meet Mr. Belpit, nor do we find out why his legs are so swollen.
- The title character of the episode "Michael Ellis". An animated television biologist calls the main character "Mr. Ellis", but the end of the sketch shows he's not Michael Ellis.
- Felony Misdemeanor: Frequently mocked, particularly in the Dirty Fork sketch.
- Fighting Irish: "Bookshop Sketch": 101 Ways to Start a Fight by "an Irish gentleman whose name eludes me."
- Le Film Artistique: "Le Fromage Grand" (which is French for "the big cheese")
- Finishing Each Other's Sentences: "Exact-" "Ly."
- "G-" "-oo-" "-d..." "E-" "-ven-" "ing!"Professor: Our only clue is this portion of wolf's clothing which the killer sheep-
Random Viking: -WAS WEARING-
Professor: -in yesterday's raid on Selfridges.
- Random Vikings appeared in a few sketches.Presenter: What is the attitude-
Random Viking: -of the man in the street towards-
Presenter: -this growing social phenomenon?
- "G-" "-oo-" "-d..." "E-" "-ven-" "ing!"
- Forgot to Pay the Bill: In one episode the BBC runs out of money, and the gas and heat get turned off in the flat they use as their studio.
- Freudian Excuse: After "Sam Peckinpah's Salad Days", a fake apology appears, stating that the creators "all come from broken homes and have very unhappy personal lives, especially Eric."
- Freud Was Right: An actor playing Hamlet is depressed because he is bored with life and wants to become a private dick (detective), hoping to get fame, money, glamour, excitement, and sex; all the psychiatrists and other people around him jump on the "sex" part.
- The "Fun" in "Funeral": The funeral of the only deceased Python member to date, Graham Chapman, went about as you'd expect:John Cleese: Graham Chapman, co-author of the Parrot Sketch, is no more. He has ceased to be, bereft of life, he rests in peace, he has kicked the bucket, hopped the twig, bit the dust, snuffed it, breathed his last, and gone to meet the Great Head of Light Entertainment in the sky. And I guess that we're all thinking how sad it is that a man of such talent, of such capability for kindness, for such unusual intelligence, a man who could overcome his alcoholism with such truly admirable single-mindedness, should now so suddenly be spirited away at the age of only forty-eight before he'd achieved many of the things in which he was capable, and before he'd had enough fun. Well, I feel that I should say, "Nonsense! Good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard, I hope he fries!" And the reason I feel I should say this is he would never forgive me if I didn't. If I threw away this glorious opportunity to shock you all on his behalf. Anything for him but mindless good taste. I could hear him whispering in my ear last night as I was writing this, "Alright, Cleese," he was saying, "You're very proud of being the very first person ever to say 'shit' on British television; if this service is really for me — just for starters — I want you to become the first person ever at a British memorial service to say 'fuck'."
Eric Idle: I'd just like to be the last person at this meeting to say "fuck"...
- After that, Eric Idle sang "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life".
- Fun with Foreign Languages: The show contains the trope-naming sketch for My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels.
- Gender Flip: In "Scott of the Antarctic/Sahara", one of his men was changed to Miss Evans, for the blatant Fanservice.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Listed here.
- Getting Hot in Here: Done twice.
- In one intro, a woman in her apartment used the line and stripped, she got to her bra when John Cleese entered the frame to start the show.
- In another sketch, after Ramsay Mac Donald is re-elected Prime Minister he returns to 10 Downing Street, says the line, and strips, showing that he's wearing women's underwear.
- Getting the Boot: Happens to Mr. Pither during the Cycling Tour sketch.
- Giant Foot of Stomping: A Trope Codifier (animation-wise, anyway).
- Godzilla Threshold: When Mr. Neutron goes missing, it is treated like this by the U.S. Army, specifically F.E.E.B.L.E. and F.E.A.R.
- Going Down with the Ship: The S.S. Mother Goose, the captain is on the intercom announcing that women and children are to get on the lifeboats first. Inside the cabin, the crew is dressing up like women and children, but they run out of costumes and some of the crew dress up as other things to avoid their fate.Captain: This is your captain speaking, do not rush to the life boats, women, children, Red Indians, spacemen and sort of idealized versions of the complete Renaissance man first.
- "It's got a nice woody sound, 'gooooorn'."
- "Salad Days"
- Actual gorn shows up in the films — there's a delicious bit in which Gilliam is graphically disemboweled by Graham Chapman.
- Gory Discretion Shot: In the "Explorer's Sketch", four explorers are dining at a jungle restaurant when it is attacked, but we don't get to see the attack; we are told by an announcer that it was very gory, and due to the unsuitability of the scene, we are shown a clip from "Ken Russell's Gardening Club (1958)", which instead of gorn, is porn; an establishing shot of a flowerbed is interrupted by the arrival of a large crowd of people in various states of undress (as well as a pantomime goose) for a pseudo-orgy in the flowerbed.
- Gossipy Hens: The Pepperpots
- Gratuitous French:
- Often shows up in the original series and, on occasion, the movies.
- In the Italian dub of And Now For Something Completely Different, the line "What's all this, then?" from "Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook" is translated to... "Bonjour!"
- Groin Attack: A nun kicks a policeman in the groin and Inspector Leopard knees a policeman in the 'nads.
- Hair-Trigger Sound Effect:
- For the love of god, whatever you do, don't say anything about the fact that you're not expecting the Spanish Inquisition. (DRAMATIC STING) NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!
- "Did you say 'mattress' to Mr. Lambert?"
- Happiness Is Mandatory: The fairy-tale kingdom of Happy Valley. The subjects were always happy all the time because, by royal decree, anyone who wasn't happy would be put to death. One subject whose wife had just died is seen being arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to hang by the neck until he cheers up.
- Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Eric Praline starts his new chat show by introducing us to his co-host Brooky, who is also his flat mate, and nothing else, he'd like to emphasize that.
- Have I Mentioned I Am Sexually Active Today?: "Dirty Vicar" sketch, anyone?
- Heroic Lineage: Njorl's Saga was first derailed by the narrator getting caught up in this. When he mentions a name, he indicates how heroic it is by it's relation to another name, which relates to another heroic name, and so on. Then it gets repeated when Njorl is dragged into a British court."Erik Njorl, son of Frothgar, brother of Hangnor, son of Thorvald Nlodvisson, son of Gudleif, half brother of Thorgier, the priest of Ljosa water, who took to wife Thurunn, the mother of Thorkel Braggart, the slayer of Cudround the powerful, who knew Howal, son of Geernon, son of Erik from Valdalesc, son of Arval Gristlebeard, son of Harken, who killed Bjortguaard in Sochnadale in Norway over Cudreed, daughter of Thorkel Long, the son of Kettle-Trout, the half son of Harviyoun Half-troll, father of Ingbare the Brave, who with Isenbert of Gottenberg the daughter of Hangbard the Fierce..."
Crown Prosecutor: Are you Erik Njorl, son of Frothgar-Judge: Get on with it!
- Averted when the Crown Prosecutor begins questioning:
- Hey, That's My Line!: In the "Explorer's Sketch" at the British Explorer's Club, "Our Hero" approaches the counter and asks the porter if there's been word from Betty Bailey's expedition; the actor playing the porter hasn't rehearsed, and starts reading the wrong lines from the script, getting the response from the explorer.
- Hidden Depths: The Pepperpots. Despite supposedly being squeaky voiced caricatures of lower middle class housewives; they always show an enormous amount of knowledge of history, philosophy and art (one sketch concerned an argument about the real meaning of Jean Paul Sartre's work; apparently they were on first name terms with his wifenote ).
- The Highway Man: Dennis Moore is the, ehm, botanical version of this. He gets it right later on, though.
- Historical-Domain Character: The show is infamous for using celebrities from history in their sketches, often in a nonsensical context, such as Cardinal Richelieu, Attila the Hun, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, William Shakespeare, Adolf Hitler, George III, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, James Whistler, Queen Victoria, Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin, The Brothers Montgolfier, Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar, Ludwig van Beethoven,... and these are just the famous ones. References to more obscure people also occur.
- How Did That Get in There?:
- An old woman is showing a young woman pictures of Uncle Ted at various places around the house, mixed in with them is the completely unexpected picture of the Spanish inquisition hiding behind the coal shed.
- In the Not At All Naughty Chemist's note Sketch, the customer is looking for a "fishy" cologne; the chemist checks his stock of colognes and finds "parrot" mixed in with the mackerel, cod and hake.
- Hypocritical Humor: Shows up constantly, though none more so in the Argument Clinic sketch where the actors in said sketch are accused of taking part in a sketch with intent of inflicting grievous mental confusion. It's later lampshaded when the policeman who comes in to arrest them for this is himself arrested for the same crime. A fourth policeman is briefly seen before the sketch ends (possibly due to Reality-Breaking Paradox).
- I Am Not Shazam:
- This was almost averted since Michael Palin's original idea was to call it "Gwen Dibley's Flying Circus" after a neighbor of his named Gwen Dibley, because, he reasoned, wouldn't it be great to give someone their own TV show without them knowing about it?
- Played with in the 30th Anniversary Special, when Idle presents a mock biography of the non-existent Mr. Python.
- Further played with in the playbills for Spamalot, which include a small bio for Monty Python in the "Cast & Crew Bios" section. The bio presents him as a faceless Man Behind the Man who secretly runs the troupe from the shadows, but admits outright that nobody knows if he even exists."Is he God or Godot, an agent of the devil or an agent of the William Morris Agency, or is he, as some have argued, a fictitious character invented in 1969 by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin in a desperate attempt to find a title for their rather silly TV show?"
- I Ate WHAT?!: A sketch where someone thought they were tasting wine, but was actually "wee-wee", was nixed by the BBC.
- Idiosyncratic Wipes: Scenes separated by long, animated sequences.
- I'm a Humanitarian: "Royal Episode 13" has two back-to-back cannibalism sketches, the second one incited a (staged) riot from the audience.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: In the "Cycling Tour" episode, "Mr. Pither" (Palin) is put in front of a firing squad, and everyone misses. Repeatedly. They finally resort to fixing bayonets and charging. Even that somehow fails.
- Improbably Low IQ: BBC programme planners scored 8 on a standardized IQ test, at least they understand how ridiculously high that is.Prof. Rosewall: The BBC programme planners' surprisingly high total here can be explained away as being within the ordinary limits of statistical error. One particularly dim programme planner can cock the whole thing up. (Followed by superimposed title: "You can say that again!")
- Incessant Chorus: The Spam vikings. "Lovely Spam, wonderful Spaaaaam..." "Bloody Vikings!"
- Incessant Music Madness: In the Cheese Shop sketch, when John Cleese's character enters, there are some guys playing Greek music and dancing. After several minutes of the annoying music in the background, he turns around and yells, "Will you shut that bloody dancing up!" and they stop playing.
- Indestructible Edible: Mr. Gulliver from the Cycling Tour episode develops these. He made a cheese sandwich that can resist 4000 psi, and a tomato that predicts when it's going to be in an accident and jumps to safety. Even if you've already eaten it.
- Inflationary Dialogue: In the camel-spotting and Spanish Inquisition sketches.
- Informed Ability
- Mr. Neutron is supposed to be the most powerful man in the universe, but the only super power we actually see on screen is transforming Mrs. S.C.U.M.'s outfit; otherwise he is seen doing totally mundane things like gardening and hanging wallpaper in a non-super powered way. The entire sketch becomes this when it reaches a cliffhanger, and an announcer tells us about how expensive and special effects filled the ending is, only for the show to end without showing any of these scenes.
- Inverted in the same sketch with Teddy Salad, an ex-CIA agent whose claim to fame is disguise, and is the only man able to find Neutron; when we meet him, he is disguised as a sled dog, and he knows exactly where Neutron is.
- Inherently Funny Words:
- Spam, spam, spam, spam....
- Lemon curry?
- Eric Idle at one point gives a voice-over regarding a prohibition on "getting cheap laughs with words like knickers, bum, or wee-wees".
- In-Name-Only: Parodied in the "Scott of the Antarctic" sketch.
- Insane Troll Logic: The driving theme of many a situation. For example, the confectioner who uses raw baby frog in his "Crunchy Frog" chocolate, bones and all. Of course the frog isn't deboned; it wouldn't be crunchy if it was.
- Insistent Terminology:
- S. Frog (Shut up!) from the Conquistador Coffee Campaign sketch.
- Ferdinand von Zeppelin's flying machine is not a balloon; it's an airship!
- Instant Emergency Response: In the "Dead Bishop" sketch, when the couple and their son find another dead bishop on their landing, they call for the Church Police, who arrive exactly two seconds later.
- Instrumental Theme Tune / Public Domain Theme Tune: "The Liberty Bell March", by John Philip Sousa. Today, it is inextricably linked to the Pythons.
- I Thought Everyone Had Big Teeth: Martin Curry is a film director who makes films where every character has enormous teeth, this is because he has overly large teeth himself; and when asked by a normal toothed person about the dental appendages, he doesn't understand what's so odd. This is followed by several people with different abnormalities (man with large ears, man with large nose, man in drag) also thinking the film was weird, except for another person with big teeth who thought it was just fine.
- It Makes Sense in Context: Subverted; usually it still doesn't make sense.
- Jack-of-All-Trades: According to Eric Idle, out of the six regular Python members, Michael Palin has the most talent to be able to play the widest variety of characters out of them all, from the brainless Gumby to "manly" lumberjacks to boring civil servants to zealous Spanish inquisitors.
- Japanese Ranguage:
- "Erizabeth L"
- Graham Chapman's "bingo-crazed Chinaman" character in "The Cycling Tour" has a problem pronouncing "Cornwall" because of this. In fact, it's safe to say Chapman loved using this trope.
- Jive Turkey: Parodied in the "RAF Banter" sketch; the chaps' banter has become so impenetrable that none of them can understand each other.Bovril: Hold on then. [shouts] Wingco!
Bovril: Bend an ear to the Squadron Leader's banter for a sec, would you?
Wingco: Can do.
Bovril: Jolly good.
Wingco: Fire away.
Squadron Leader: [draws a deep breath and looks slightly uncertain, then starts even more deliberately than before]'' Bally Jerry... pranged his kite... right in the how's yer father... hairy blighter... dicky-birdied... feathered back on his Sammy... took a waspy... flipped over on his Betty Harper's... and caught his can... in.... the Bertie...
Wingco ...No, don't understand that banter at all.
- Jungle Drums: During the sketch with the jungle restaurant.
- Just Like Making Love: The Bruces claim that American beer is like making love in a canoe: it's fucking close to water. (From their "Live at the Hollywood Bowl" film)
- Just Like Robin Hood: Parodied by Dennis Moore, who first makes the mistake of stealing only lupins from the rich to give to the poor, and then steals so much else from the rich that the rich become poor and the poor become the new rich. He ends up trying some complicated redistribution of wealth among those he holds up and himself.Dennis Moore: This redistribution of wealth is trickier than I thought.
- Just the Introduction to the Opposites: The gang of grannies, the "working-class playwright" and his estranged miner son.
- Juxtaposition Gag
- Kangaroo Court: The court seen in the Njorl's Saga episode. When Njorl is brought to trial for promoting a London suburb during a BBC saga, there are several trumped up charges tacked on, the court only follows procedure because the press is watching, he's clearly the victim of Police Brutality, and the cop that testifies against him gets his stories mixed up and makes up a phony confession from Njorl.
- Kick Them While They Are Down: Scott to the lion in "Scott of the Antarctic".
- Killer Sheep: Arthur X, leader of the Pennine Gang.
- Lampshaded Double Entendre: "A nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat!"
- Lampshade Hanging: And plenty of it. After each punchline in the Conquistador Coffee sketch, for example, the characters hold up a sign that says "JOKE".
- During the Architect Sketch, one of the models ignites into flame with SATIRE flashing on the screen.
- Language Barrier: Oh, the poor tobacconist and the poor Hungarian, trapped in malicious trickster translation of a Hungarian-English phrasebook.
- Large Ham: In-universe, John Cleese's padre in the First World War sketch... so much so that he is taken to a hospital for "Over-acting".
- Larynx Dissonance: If any of them could do a convincing woman's voice, they certainly didn't try it, since it wouldn't be as funny. Except Idle, who did sound like a middle-aged woman and was even funnier for it.
- Laughing at Your Own Jokes: in the sketch "The Funniest Joke in the World", the original writer of the joke in question reads it after writing it down and dies laughing.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo:
- The Pythons didn't think to get permission from DC Comics for using Superman as part of the "Bicycle Repair Man" sketch, and worried afterward. No lawsuit was forthcoming (possibly due to Fair Use by way of parody/satire, and because the sketch did no harm to the brand).
- Also, SPAM. Hormel, the makers of Spam, didn't mind the use and even advertise their wonderful Spam using the Python Spam references.
- Left the Background Music On:
- One sketch starts with a slow pan over the sea, rushing against the seaside cliffs, accompanied by Felix Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture, but the music suddenly starts skipping...as the camera pans a bit further to reveal a gramophone sitting on the grass.
- The Cheese Shop sketch has John Cleese's character entering said shop to the sound of the sound of folk music, and actually passes one man playing a bouzouki inside the shop, while two other men are dancing to the music. Cleese's character is at first bemused by this, but eventually he pauses his conversation with the shop-owner and shouts for the assembly to "SHUT THAT BLOODY DANCING UP!"
- Less Embarrassing Term: From one of the sketches—Miss Bladder: I'm not a courtesan!
Biggles (Graham Chapman): Courtesan? Oh, oh, aren't we grand? Harlot's not good enough for us, eh? Paramour, concubine, fille de joie, that's what we're not. Well, you listen to me, my fine fellow, you are a bit of tail, that's what you are!
Miss Bladder: I am not, you demented fictional character.
Biggles: Algy says you are. He says you're no better than you should be.
Miss Bladder: 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?
Miss Bladder: Fairy? Poof's not good enough for Algy, is it? He's got to be a bleedin' fairy! Mincing old RAF queen!
- Literal Ass Kissing: The Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook is available at Her Majesty's Stationary Office for the price of a kiss on the bum.
- Look Both Ways
- In one intro, the It's Man tries to cross a street, but has to dodge to avoid several cars; he makes it to the other side, and is knocked over by a woman with a baby carriage.
- There was also a vox pop segment where the interviewer tries to get an opinion from a "man in the street", who is promptly run over.
- Lovely Assistant:
- The Amazing Mystico and Janet put up housing blocks by hypnosis. (Janet is the Lovely Assistant.)
- Similarly, The Amazing Kargol (who is also a psychiatrist) and Janet show up in the Mouse sketch.
- In the sketch "Prejudice", the Lovely Assistant Carol presents the winning entries for a contest to find a derogatory term for the Belgians.
- Made of Plasticine: "Sam Peckinpah's Salad Days" has a peaceful summer scene ruined due to the participants all being this, accidentally maiming and dismembering each other.
- The Mafia: Luigi Vercotti, occasionally accompanied by his brother Dino Vercotti; they tried the Shame If Something Happened routine on an army colonel, and he also ran a Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club in the "Piranha Brothers" sketch.
- Major Injury Underreaction: Zigzagged in "You're No Fun Anymore."
- A sailor on a ship reacts with the title line when his flogging is through.
- During the board meeting segment of the sketch, Michael Palin's character is an accountant who proclaims his firm has made a total of a shilling in the last fiscal year, and upon further questioning, that five pence of a further sixpence went to taxes, leaving him a penny short. Under pressure, he admits that he embezzeled the penny. John Cleese's character has this reaction: "You naughty person."
- Mandatory Line: "But it's my only line!"
- Meatgrinder Surgery: Gumby Brain Surgery.
- Medium Awareness
- Medium Realization starting at 4:23 of the "Argument Clinic".
- There's also the Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things: "Good lord! I'm on film. How did that happen?"
- In the sketch titled "The Silliest Sketch We've Ever Done", at the end the actors just stop, remark to each other that it's the silliest sketch they've ever done, call if off, and walk off the set.
- The end of the phonograph record version of "The Piranha Brothers": "Sorry, squire, I scratched the record." (click) "Sorry, squire, I scratched the record." (click) "Sorry, squire..."
- The opening of Monty Python's Previous Record ("NOT THIS RECORD!")
- The end of the "Crunchy Frog" sketch:Policeman: I shall have to ask you to accompany me to the station!
Mr. Hilton: (Aside Glance) It's a fair cop...
Policeman: And don't talk into the camera!
- Medium Blending: Terry Gilliam's cartoon segments. There were even a few moments when the animation was split-screened with live-action scenes. Gilliam himself appeared in one particular segment. He starts out by explaining how he usually does the animation, complete with a shot of his hands holding the animated cardboard characters, before realizing the segment is already running, at which point he himself appears on-screen to apologize.
- Meganekko: Anne Elk
- Misplaced Wildlife: Became a problem for "Scott of the Antarctic" as the film was going to have Scott fight a lion, until it is pointed out there are no lions in the Antarctic. Instead of losing the lion, which was in the contract, they switch locations to the Sahara desert, where they have lions and giant electric penguins with green tentacles that sting people.
- Mister Strangenoun: The show was littered with oddly named characters like Mr. Anchovy. Sketches about two women would have pairs of complementary names of this sort, such as Mrs. Thing and Mrs. Entity, Mrs. Premise and Mrs. Conclusion, or Mrs. Gorilla and Mrs. Nongorilla.
- Mockumentary: John Cleese does a door-to-door TV documentarynote on molluscs, at first it's a normal documentary, but the people are so bored he switches to talking about the sex life of molluscs, painting the whole phylum as the perverts of the animal kingdom.
- Money Fetish: The host of "The Money Programme".Good evening and welcome to "The Money Programme". Tonight on "The Money Programme", we're going to look at money. Lots of it. On film, and in the studio. Some of it in nice piles, others in lovely clanky bits of loose change, (starting to get excited) some of it neatly counted into fat little hundreds, delicate fivers stuffed into bulging wallets, nice crisp clean cheques, pert pieces of copper coinage thrust deep into trouser pockets, romantic foreign money rolling against the thigh with rough familiarity, beautiful wayward curlicued banknotes, filigree copperplating cheek by jowl with tumbling hexagonal milled edges, rubbing gently against the terse leather of beautifully balanced bank books (collects himself) I'm sorry. But I love money.
- Money Song: Trope Namer
- Motor Mouth: Michael Palin as the host of "Spectrum"."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? Goodnight."
— And then some adenoidal typists from Birmingham with diarrhoea and flabby white legs and hairy bandy-legged wop waiters called Manuel, and then, once a week there's an excursion to the local Roman ruins where you can buy cherryade and melted ice cream and bleedin' Watney's Red Barrel, and one night they take you to a local restaurant with local colour and colouring and they show you there and you sit next to a party of people from Rhyl who keeps singing 'Torremolinos, Torremolinos' and complaining about the food - 'Oh! It's so greasy isn't it?' and then you get cornered by some drunken greengrocer from Luton with an Instamatic and Dr Scholl sandals and last Tuesday's 'Daily Express' and he drones on and on and on about how Mr. Smith should be running this country and how many languages Enoch Powell can speak and then he throws up all over the Cuba Libres—
- Eric Idle in the Mr. Hilter sketch, and most famously in Watney's Red Barrel, when he will not stop. The live version at the Hollywood Bowl is even better and spans several sketches.
- Ms. Fanservice
- Mugging the Monster: A pedestrian reveals multiple arms to defeat a mugger.
- Multiarmed And Dangerous: See Mugging the Monster above.
- Mundane Made Awesome: BICYCLE REPAIRMAN! And others—the show loved this trope.
- Dinsdale Piranha is incredibly violent but his brother Doug is far more terrifying because he used...sarcasm.Luigi Vercotti: [visibly shaken] He knew all the tricks — dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and satire.
- The The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief featured an entire sketch of Mundane Made Awesome: file clerk Ralph Mellish goes to work and despite Michael Palin's awesomely dramatic narration and appropriately epic/sinister music, Mellish can't help noticing that there is no evidence whatsoever of any web of crime and intrigue which he might be drawn into, because there isn't one; his secretary doesn't notice any "tiny but tell-tale bloodstains" on his clothing, because there aren't any; Ralph doesn't end up in court because he hasn't done anything; in fact, precisely because nothing happened, Mellish doesn't end up "like all those who challenge the fundamental laws of our society: in an iron coffin with spikes on the inside."
- Mr. and Mrs. Norris' Ford Popular, a day-long trip presented as an expedition looking for prehistoric migrations.
- "Blood, Devastation, Death, War, and Horror" has a series of animals fighting (seal vs seal, limpet vs limpet, ant vs wolf, culminating in famous documentary filmmakers brawling) set to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.
- "Good evening and welcome to another edition of Storage Jars!"
- Dinsdale Piranha is incredibly violent but his brother Doug is far more terrifying because he used...sarcasm.
- The Musical
- Musicalis Interruptus: The Proust song in the Proust-summarizing competition sketch.
- My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: The team took a lot of shots at the British class system, most memorably in the "Upper Class Twit Of The Year" sketch. The British military also got mocked a lot.
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Trope Namer.
- Naked People Are Funny: Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones as the Nude Organist, Graham Chapman belly dancing, Michael Palin as Ramsay Mac Donald stripping to reveal lingerie, and Terry Jones performing a striptease. Twice.
- Never Heard That One Before: Parodied. Mr. Smoke-too-much apparently has never gotten a comment on the fact that his name is a meaningful phrase.
- Newscaster Cameo: BBC anchor Richard Baker turns up in a few scenes, more than happy to go along with the gag in play.
- No Ending:
- Many, many sketches and shows end without a punchline, or any sort of resolution at all. Often by having The Colonel show up and disrupt things for being too silly. They are the essence of Surrealism.
- At one point, the police showed up out of nowhere and arrested everyone for violations against the 'Getting out of sketches without using a proper punchline' act, since just about every skit in the episode had ended with the police showing up out of nowhere and arresting everyone.
- No Fourth Wall: Too many to list, but here's one example of many to give an idea (from the Hungarian Phrasebook sketch): "If there's any more stock film of women applauding I shall clear the court!"
- No Indoor Voice:
- The Gumbys.
- John Cleese is also quite an accomplished shouter.
- The Pepperpots, the waitress in the "Spam" sketch included.
- Non-Standard Prescription: "The Cycling Tour" Mr Pither goes to a doctor to ask for directions to Iddesleigh. "Normally I would have asked a policeman or a minister of the Church, but finding no one available, I thought it better to consult a man with some professional qualifications, rather than rely on the possibly confused testimony of a passer-by." The doctor writes something down and tells Mr Pither to take it to a chemist (pharmacy in the US). The next shot is a chemist looking at the paper and giving Mr Pither the directions.
- Noodle Implements: The "specimens" in "The Insurance Sketch".
- No One Should Survive That
- Non-Answer: "How to Do It" shows us how to play the flute and cure the world of all known diseases.
- Nonindicative Name:
- "Blood, Devastation, Death, War and Horror" is a lighthearted chat show which features a man who speaks entirely in anagrams.Host (Michael Palin): Hello, good evening, and welcome to another edition of Blood, Devastation, Death, War, and Horror. And later on we'll be meeting a man who actually does gardening.
- By contrast, "Ethel the Frog" is a very serious news magazine programme.
- "Blood, Devastation, Death, War and Horror" is a lighthearted chat show which features a man who speaks entirely in anagrams.
- No Title: The "Showbiz Awards" episode makes no mention of Monty Python's Flying Circus at all; the "It's" intro goes straight into the "Showbiz Awards" opening, and the end credits are in the context of the wife-swapping competition.
- Not Actually the Ultimate Question: Dennis Moore.Lady: What do you want? Why are you here?
Moore: Why are any of us here? I mean, when you get down to it, it's all so meaningless, isn't it? I mean what do any of us want...
Earl of Buckingham:' No, no, what do you want now?
Moore: Oh I see, oh just the usual things, a little place of my own, the right girl...
Baron Grantley: No, no, no! What do you want from us?
Moore: Oh sorry. Your gold, your silver, your jewellery.
- Not So Remote: One sketch started with explorers and a native guide trekking through close-set trees and underbrush in Darkest Africa. Eventually they come upon a clearing with a nice outdoor restaurant right in the middle of the jungle, where they decide to have lunch.
- The Nudifier: Scientists send probes across the galaxy to study shopping and women's underwear. The Algon-1 probe was the first piece of space hardware specifically designed to undress ladies.
- Office Golf: "Party Political Broadcast" has a sketch in which a doctor practices his golf swing while his patient bleeds to death in his office.
- Off the Chart: Mr. Frog's (S. Frog's [Shut up!]) sales campaign for Conquistador Coffee sends the sales graph plummeting through the horizontal axis and off the bottom of the page.
- Old-Fashioned Copper: A favoured target of satire. Constable Pan-Am, from the ending of the Chemists sketch, for one.
- Once for Yes, Twice for No: The sketch in which a coffin is called as a witness. In Pleasure at her Majesty's, the film of the first ever Amnesty International "Secret Policeman's Ball", the backstage footage shows Peter Cook (who stood in for Eric Idle as the defendant) pointing out to John Cleese (the defense counsel) that at one point he asked the coffin a question without a yes-or-no answer: "Mr. Aldridge, are you thinking or are you just dead?"
- Only Sane Man
- Inverted. If anything, John Cleese was the Least Insane Man.
- In-show, the Colonel often tries to act as this by stopping sketches before they become too 'silly'.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping
- Oop North: Northern English stereotypes - turned on their ears, of course - figure quite prominently in several sketches.
- In "Our Ken" from the Series 1 episode "Sex and Violence", Graham Chapman and Terry Jones play a seemingly typical working-class Northern couple whose RP-accented son Ken (Eric Idle) has returned to visit them, only to face his father's disapproval for his career path. However, the father turns out to be a successful London playwright (who has sudden attacks of writer's cramp), while Ken has defied him to work in the coal mines in Yorkshire.
- The first "Spanish Inquisition" sketch opens when Graham Chapman delivers a line about "trouble at t' mill" in a heavy Northern accent to Carol Cleveland... only to have to repeat it several times to make himself understood. He ultimately drops the Northern accent and starts speaking in his normal RP accent, and finally admits he has no idea what the line means anyway.
- Our Slogan Is Terrible: The Conquistador Coffee sketch. "The tingling fresh coffee which brings you exciting new Cholera, Mange, Singapore Ear, Dropsy, the Clap, Hard Pad, and Athlete's Head. From the House of Conquistador."
- Overly Long Gag: Another technique they helped pioneer."Number one: the larch. The... larch. The... larch. And now... number one... the larch."
- And then in the credits...
- The very first Monty Python gag the world encountered was of the overly long variety, namely the "It's..." man crawling out of the ocean to introduce the show.
- The Cheese Shop sketch was one very long gag...
- Overly Long Name: A regular occurrance in the series.
Election Official: Malcolm Peter Brian Telescope Adrian Umbrella Stand Jasper Wednesday (pops mouth twice) Stoatgobbler John Raw Vegetable (sound of horse whinnying) Arthur Norman Michael (blows squeaker) Featherstone Smith (blows whistle) Northgot Edwards Harris (fires pistol, which goes 'whoop') Mason Chuffchuffchuff Frampton Jones Fruitbat Gilbert (sings) 'We'll keep a welcome in the' (three shots, stops singing) Williams If I Could Walk That Way Jenkin (squeaker) Tiger-drawers Pratt Thompson (sings) 'Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head' Darcy Carter (horn) Pussycat 'Don't Sleep In The Subway' Barton Mannering (hoot, 'whoop') Smithnote .
- The cream of the crop comes from the "Election Night" sketch (and the Very Silly Party):
- Why is it that the world never remembered the name of Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein von Knacker-thrasher-applebanger-horowitz-ticolensic- grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumblemeyer--spelterwasser-kurstlich-himbleeisen-bahnwagen-gutenabend-bitte-ein-nürnburger-bratwustle-gerspurten-mitz-weimache-luber-hundsfut-gumberaber-shönedanker-kalbsfleisch-mittler-aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm?
- One of the girls assisting in the Upper-Class Twit of the Year Competition is named Lady Sarah Pencil Farthing Vivian Streamroller Adams Pie Biscuit Aftershave Gore Stringbottom Smith.
- Overt Operative: Played with in the "Mr. Neutron" episode with Teddy Salad, a retired CIA agent who now breeds rabbits in the Yukon. When his services are needed, Captain Carpenter goes to the Yukon believing Salad would've maintained the secrecy of his old job, and says Teddy Salad is a ballet organizer (or a hen teaser), which confuses everyone as the only Teddy Salad they know of is the CIA man.
- Pantomime Animal: Two pantomime horses fight over a job at a merchant bank, a pantomime goose kills Terence Rattigan, and the recurring pantomime Princess Margaret.Biggles: Get back in the cupboard you pantomimetic royal person!
- Penultimate Outburst: "If there's any more Stock Footage of women applauding, I shall be forced to clear the court!"
- Pirate Parrot: Seen in several sketches, including one with Long John Silver impersonators playing football.
- Planet of Steves
- The Bruces.
- There was an incredible number of people named Arthur, and an even greater number named Ken or Eric.
- In the "Fish License" sketch, Eric Praline (one of the recurring characters, most known for being the customer in the Dead Parrot sketch) argues with another apparently called Eric. It also turns out that all of his pets are called Eric, and he carries around books documenting the same thing with other people in case people would call him a loony for it.
- Whicker Island.
- Police Are Useless: One of the Pythons' favourite targets was the British Police. Almost every policeman is stupid and/or insane. A good example is the sketch "I Wish To Report A Burglary." Someone goes to the police station to report a burglary, but due to some issues, Hilarity Ensues as he is shuffled from officer to officer, all along the while being asked to make his report in different vocal registers.
- I'm sorry, I can't read this, sir. Could you try it in a different font?
- CALLING ALL SQUAD CARS IN THE AREA!!!!!
- One sketch is about the Olympic Hide-and-Seek finals.
- One of the German specials features the Silly Olympics, an event held traditionally every 3.7 years, with events such as the 100-meter dash for people with no sense of direction, the 1500 meter dash for the deaf (who fail to go because they can't hear the starting gun), the freestyle swim race for people who can't swim ("we'll return to this event as soon as all the corpses are fished out") and the cross-country race for incontinents (who break away every five seconds to relieve themselves on the roadside).
- Pursue the Dream Job:
- A barber gives it all up to become a lumberjack. He has a hair phobia and he never really wanted to be a barber anyway.
- A chartered accountant wants to pursue a career as a lion tamer, but he is discouraged from doing that by a vocation guidance counsellor, who says his aptitude test shows he's perfectly suited for a career in chartered accountancy. Sadly, his ideas about lions are also quite twisted.
- Queer People Are Funny
- Rail Enthusiast: Two appearances, first the "Camel Spotting" sketch (in which camels are numbered, just above the cylinder box) and a murder mystery that quickly devolves into an extended discussion of trivia about railway timetables, which it turns out was written by one Neville Shunt. In the latter case, the trainspotter is played by Michael Palin, who is one of these in Real Life (indeed, Palin's first travel documentary was "Confessions of a Trainspotter").
- Reading Ahead in the Script: In several episodes characters would read the script to find out what was going on or what they (or another character) were supposed to do.
- Real Song Theme Tune: That rousing marching-band music comes courtesy of "The Liberty Bell" (aka "Liberty Bell March") by John Philip Sousa. Not including the splatty noise that cuts off the music, of course.
- Recurring Characters: Oddly enough, there are a few, including gangster Luigi Vercotti (Michael Palin) and Eric Praline (John Cleese) who attempts to buy a fish license, attempts to return a pet parrot for having died, and arrests Terry Jones for making disgusting confections. Palin also plays a number of smarmy television hosts who are quite similar.
- Recurring Extra: In the first season a knight in armor would knock various characters over the head with a dead chicken at least once in every episode.
- Reduced to Ratburgers: "One slice of strawberry tart without so much rat in it later..."
- Reference Overdosed: Zillions of historical and cultural references, especially funny to intellectuals. Apart from that there are also a lot of references to British TV shows, politicians and musicians that are not always that clear to foreign audiences. As Time Marches On many references to 1960s and 1970s events also become obscure.
- For instance, the "How To Do It?" sketch is a parody of the BBC children's show Blue Peter.
- The "Election Night Special" sketch is even more funny if you know something about how the way BBC TV broadcasts news about elections.
- The "Whicker's World" sketch where every inhabitant on a tropical island is a similarly looking journalist is a direct reference to journalist Alan Whicker who indeed had a similarly titled talk show and travel program.
- In "The Ministry of Silly Walks" sketch one of the characters in the silent film Cleese shows is not just a random character wearing a high hat and long pointy shoes, but a direct reference to British music hall comedian Little Tich.
- The "RAF Banter Sketch" is very incomprensible to anyone who never saw an old British war movie where many soldiers indeed talk in a way that resembles Palin and Idle's dialogue in this sketch.
- Refuge in Audacity: Actually instead of taking refuge, they seemed to have moved into audacity, built a nice little bungalow, and regularly invite people over for tea.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: In the "How Not to Be Seen" sketch, "When we called at their house, we found that they had gone away on two weeks' holiday... However, a neighbor told us where they were." (Blows them up.) "And here is the neighbor who told us where they were." (Blows him up.)
- Rock-Paper-Scissors: And one of the players has no arms.
- Rule of Funny
- Until they get stopped for being silly by the Colonel.
- Or the Knight with a Chicken comes to slap someone.
- Or the 16-ton weight drops on someone.
- Or Terry Gilliam as a boxer punches out the person talking (happened a couple of times).
- Rule of Three: The Spanish Inquisition appeared three times, the Bishop theme was played (or at least started) three times, the "piston engine" gag was done three times in a row, and "Mr. Neutron" started with the post office commissioning a new postal box with a speech in English, French, and German.
- Running Gag: Quite a few, the most well-known of which is probably, "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" This particular gag subverts itself at the end of the episode, when it has become so routine for the Inquisition to appear when someone says they weren't expecting them that, well, everyone is expecting them to, but they're stuck in traffic so they can't arrive on cue.
- Sarcasm-Blind: Mr Pither in the episode "The Cycling Tour":Cafe Proprietor: 35 p please.
Mr Pither: Ah... oh, I have only a fifty. You have change?
Cafe Proprietor: Well, I'll have a look, but I may have to go to the bank.
Mr Pither: I'm most awfully sorry.
- Saw a Woman in Half: "Conjuring Today" tried to demonstrate it with a rather crazy-looking stage magician with a bloody saw.Conjuror: 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 into three bits and dispose of the body-
- Scaling the Summit:
- In the "Mountaineering Sketch" a man plans an expedition to the "dual peaks" of Mount Kilimanjaro - except there is only one peak. He has double vision.
- In "Climbing the North Face of Uxbridge Road" a TV Documentary crew cover a team of mountaineers "ascending" a common London street. They act as if they're climbing a steep, treacherous mountain, but meanwhile pedestrians walk past as normal. At the end of the sketch the lead climber loses his "grip" and "falls" down the street, pulling down his fellow climbers with him.
- The Scottish Trope: By way of Spain, anyway. "NOBODY expects The Spanish Inquisition!"
- And don't say "mattress" to a certain mattress salesman.
- Sdrawkcab Name: Notlob. First mentioned in the "Dead Parrot" sketch as the palindrome of Bolton, then a news reader says "Notlob" when he meant to say "Bolton", and later there was a Mr. Notlob who went to a psychiatrist when he heard folk music wherever he went.
- Secret Shop: The "Tudor Jobs" sketch is an employment agency for tudor jobs, which have been out of style since the 17th century. It's actually a front for a porn shop, and when a customer shows up, the clerk calls out to his accomplice and a wall opens up revealing the real store.
- They got David Hamilton, who was working for Thames (a rival TV station) to dish out this beauty:David Hamilton: Good evening. We've got an action-packed evening for you tonight on Thames, but right now here's a rotten old BBC programme.
- Also, this bit, which also leans on the Fourth Wall:Cleese (narrating): Number 29, the interior of a country house.
Cleese (on camera): That's not a part of the body.
Cleveland: No, it's a link, though.
Chapman: I don't think it was very good.
Cleese: No, it's the end of the series, they must be running out of ideas.
- They got David Hamilton, who was working for Thames (a rival TV station) to dish out this beauty:
- Separated by a Common Language: In Mr. Neutron, a American spy talks like this to a British spy; partially Justified in that they were in the Yukon and the British spy was dressed like an Eskimo, but he's already confirmed that he's not an Eskimo and speaks clear English. The American figures it out after a couple of lines of shouting broken English.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness
- Shaped Like Itself: The Oxford Dictionary defines the word "pythonesque" as "after the style of or resembling the absurdist or surrealist humor of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a British television comedy series (1969–74)".
Palin: If you've enjoyed watching this show just half as much as we've enjoyed doing it, then we've enjoyed it twice as much as you! Hahaha- (crushed by 16-ton weight)
- An example within the show itself, when Michael Palin closes the "Scott of the Antarctic" episode:
- The "Confess!" segment of the Spanish Inquisition sketch is very similar to a scene in The Prisoner episode "Fall Out".
- In "Silly Election", the exchange "What about the nylon dot cardigan and plastic mule rest? / There's no such thing! / Thank you, Spike!" is a direct Shout-Out to The Goon Show and its creator, Spike Milligan.
- "The Bishop" is a very obvious lampoon of The Saint.
- In the "Buying a Bed" sketch from Series 1, the two eccentric sales assistants played by Eric Idle and Graham Chapman are named Mr. Verity and Mr. Lambert.
- The Big Cheese from "Secret Service Dentists" is a pretty straightforward Bond villain parody.
- Signature Style: In the early days, the team used to joke that you could tell who wrote any given sketch; any sketch involving Hurricane of Euphemisms or violent authoritarian figures was Cleese/Chapman, any sketch with large amounts of location filing was Jones/Palin and any sketch with a long monologue descending into gibberish was Idle.
- Sixth Ranger (or seventh)
- Carol Cleveland, who was in more sketches than anyone else who wasn't a writer for the show.
- Neil Innes can also make a claim for this title, given that he contributed much of the music for the shows and films and was an indispensable part of the troupe's stage shows.
- Aside from Cleveland, the woman most frequently seen was Cleese's then-wife Connie Booth (she's the woman Michael Palin is holding in the Lumberjack Song). She'd be even more important to Fawlty Towers, which she co-wrote with Cleese and in which she played Polly.
- Not to mention Eric's then-wife, Lyn Ashley, who was always credited solely as "Mrs Idle".
- And then there's Ian Davidson, who made guest appearances in almost every episode of the first series.
- Douglas Adams became Graham Chapman's writing partner after John Cleese left in the fourth series and was the only non-Python besides Neil Innes to get a writing credit on the show (for co-writing the "Patient Abuse" sketch). He also appeared in that and a few other sketches.
- Sketch Comedy
- Sliding Scale of Fourth Wall Hardness: Pretty much worn out by the end of the series' run.
- Small Reference Pools: Completely averted. To cite one of many examples: a joke from the very first, episode requires the viewer not only to have heard of the painter Toulouse-Lautrec, but to be familiar enough with his disability to be able to identify a caricature of him by sight.
- Smarmy Host: A repeated target. See Palin in the "Blackmail" sketch for a shining example.
- Smash to Black: At the end of episode "Michael Ellis", the characters are discussing how to end the episode. They reject a happy ending, walking into the sunset, a Fade to Black, then finally:Assistant: Well, how about a sudden ending?
Smash to Black
- Sommelier Speak: In an infamous lost sketch, a man brings his friend down to his wine cellar for a private tasting. After the visitor describes the various flavors and textures he notices, the man tells him it's "wee-wee." All the wine is wee-wee.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: "Sam Peckinpah's Salad Days" has a nice cheery piano number to match the bright scenery, which is totally opposed to the carnage that takes place.
- Space Clothes: One scientist in the Algon-1 sketch, who discovered lingerie on another planet, believes that alien women's underwear gets naughtier and naughtier the further away you go.
- Speak of the Devil: Look, I'm not expecting the Spanish Inquisition here, okay?"No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!"
"Now put her in... THE COMFY CHAIR!!"
- To a lesser extent, "Secret Service Dentists" mentions the Big Cheese before he shows up towards the end.
- Spontaneous Human Combustion: Mrs. Niggerbaiter"It's funny, isn't it, how... how your best friend could just... blow up like that. I mean, you wouldn't think it was medically possible, would you?"
- Spy Speak: Played for laughs.
- Stock Footage: One common gag involved cutting to stock footage of a group of middle-aged Women's Institute members smiling approvingly and applauding on the punchline of a sketch, often evoking dissonance by using it with Black Comedy sketches.
- Stop Trick: When Eric Idle gets fed up with the "Mary... Army Recruitment" sketch, Graham Chapman suggests a scene change; Eric stays the same when the recruitment office spontaneously changes to a bus.
- Straight Gay: Graham Chapman, who passably played his share of aggressively heterosexual characters. In one sketch, he shoots another character for being gay.
- Stripping Snag: The classic scene where resident Smurfette Carol Cleveland is playing the heroine of a very bad film, pursued by a monster and running into cactii which persist in snagging into her clothing and stripping her to her panties.
- Studio Audience: In the "Undertakers' Sketch", they rush the stage in mock indignation. Apparently, letting the audience react this way was a condition of the BBC letting them use the skit. The BBC agreed to let them do the sketch only if they made it clear that the studio audience disapproved of it. The Pythons responded by taking it Up to Eleven, having the audience loudly boo practically every joke and then rush the stage at the end. It was All Part of the Show, of course.
- Stuff Blowing Up:
- "The Exploding Version of the Blue Danube" is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- When shooting people just isn't enough in "How Not To Be Seen".
- "Well, it's just gone eight o'clock, and time for the penguin on top of your television set to explode."
- Subliminal Advertising: Parodied in the Series 3 episode "Njorl's Saga". The title story receives emergency funding from the North Malden Icelandic Society, who proceed to derail it with advertising trying to persuade businesses to invest in Malden (a London suburb). At one point, during a fight scene in which the characters are carrying placards advertising the virtues of Malden for businesses, the words "INVEST IN MALDEN" flash on the screen repeatedly. At first, they only stay for a few frames, but each time they appear, they remain on screen for longer, until finally they flash on screen and stay there until a cut to the next sketch.
- Suffer the Slings: An impromptu one is made from underwear to fight a giant electric penguin.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial
- The sketch about the Nazi leaders hiding in England had a lot of these:Heinrich Bimmler: I am retired vindow cleaner and pacifist, without doing war crimes.
- And may I take this opportunity of emphasizing that there is no cannibalism in the Royal Navy.
- Luigi Vercotti would like to deny completely that his "high class nightclub for the gentry at Biggleswade" was a "cheap clip joint for pickin' up tarts."
- The sketch about the Nazi leaders hiding in England had a lot of these:
- Switch to English: In the episode "The Cycling Tour," John Cleese is a Soviet officer making a speech in Russian to fellow Soviets, pausing for the subtitles to show, and then says in Russian, "Forgive me if I continue in English in order to save time."
- Take That!: Numerous.
- Generally assume that a character named "Maudling" is one of these against Reginald Maudling, an MP who was embroiled in financial scandals. The Pythons make frequent mockery of him, though one sketch used him as a springboard to make a tremendous slam against Margaret Thatcher (years before she became Prime Minister or even leader of her party).[Image shows a shin] Cleese: Number Twenty-three: the shin.
[Image shows Reginald Maudling] Cleese: Number Twenty-four: Reginald Maudling's shin. [An arrow points at his shin]
[Image shows a brain] Cleese: Number Twenty-five: the brain.
[Image shows Margaret Thatcher] Cleese: Number Twenty-six: Margaret Thatcher's brain. [An arrow points to her shin. Cue tremendous audience applause.]
- One sketch involved a narcissistic actor named "Timmy Williams", played by Idle, who is constantly distracted in furthering his career from an old friend's desperate pleas for help, to the point where the friend shoots himself and Timmy takes it in stride. This is followed by credits for "The Timmy Williams Show", which - while written "entirely" by Williams - features a list of "contributors" that takes up several seconds, including Ralph Emerson, Burt Ancaster, and Monty Python. This is based largely off of the Python's experiences working with David Frost on The Frost Report.
- "Well, I've been in the city for 30 years and I've never once regretted being a nasty, greedy, cold-hearted, avaricious money-grubber... er, Conservative!"
- Generally assume that a character named "Maudling" is one of these against Reginald Maudling, an MP who was embroiled in financial scandals. The Pythons make frequent mockery of him, though one sketch used him as a springboard to make a tremendous slam against Margaret Thatcher (years before she became Prime Minister or even leader of her party).
- Tasty Gold: In the "Crackpot Religions" sketch.
- The Teaser/Book Ends: Each episode starts with the "It's Man", either running, swimming or crawling towards the camera from a long distance, or in some dire situation (for example, in the "Face the Press" episode, he's in a cage, presumably in the zoo)) and occasionally with John Cleese sitting behind a desk and saying "And now for something completely different" When he arrives at the camera, he says "It's!" and the opening credits roll - At the end of the show, the "It's Man" will turn and move away from the camera the way he came, or possibly simply be dead (In the above example, nothing is left in the cage but his skeleton) as the closing credits roll.
- That Makes Me Feel Angry:
My goodness me, I am in a bad temper today all right, two, three, damn, damn, two, three, I am vexed and ratty! (shake fists) Two, three, and hopping mad! (stamp feet)
- The men of the Derbyshire Light Infantry's "precision display of bad temper".
- That's All, Folks!:
Well, that's about it for tonight, ladies and gentlemen. But remember, if you've enjoyed watching the show just half as much as we've enjoyed doing it, then we've enjoyed it twice as much as you!
- "Look there's not really a great deal of point in your, sort of hanging on at your end, because I'm afraid there aren't any more jokes or anything."
- Palin at the end of "Scott Of The Antarctic":
- Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five To Go, their farewell show.
- Theme Tune: First movement of Sousa's "Liberty Bell", chosen as it is public domain, to save money. Nowadays, people know it as "The Monty Python Song", and as one of the references to British comedy present in Hogs of War, the Monty Python version of the song (although rearranged) is the main theme of said game.
- Thrown from the Zeppelin: Literally. Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin threw the entire German government out of his airship during its maiden voyage; it wasn't for not supporting him, but for calling his airship a "balloon".
- Time Marches On: The "New Brain" sketch has captions pointing out that the sketch was written before currency decimalization, so whenever a monetary value in the old pound/shilling/pence system is mentioned, the caption translates it to the modern value.
- Tiny-Headed Behemoth: According to one theory about the Brontosaurus, it was thin at one end, much much thicker in the middle, and then thin again at the far end.
- Title Sequence: The episode "Scott of the Antarctic" featured its namesake sketch at the beginning — 18 minutes long — before ever showing the show's Title Sequence. This is probably the first ever example of a show delaying its title sequence to anywhere near or (in this case) beyond its halfway mark. It's only possible thanks to the BBC having no commercial breaks, and thus not having to identify the show upon returning from such a break.
- Token American: Terry Gilliam, referred to on the back of the first DVD as the "imported American animator."
- Too Dumb to Live
- The twits from the "Upper Class Twit of the Year Show" take part in an obstacle course involving jumping over a line of matchboxes to waking a sleeping neighbour; the last challenge involves shooting themselves. Honourable mention goes to Oliver St. John-Mollusc who managed to run himself over with his own car.
- Ron Obvious tried to run to Mercury (the planet) at the behest of his manager, Luigi Vercotti. Other exploits attempted include jumping across the English Channel, eating Chichester Cathedral, and digging a tunnel to Java.
- To Serve Man: The alien Blancmanges come to Earth to win Wimbledon; they eliminate any competition by turning them into Scotsmen, or just eating them.
- Trap Door: Used on a man collecting money for charity in the "Merchant Banker" sketch. Because the set had to be raised to accommodate the space beneath the trapdoor, it's audibly obvious that Cleese and Jones are walking on wooden boards rather than the concrete studio floor. This does however help in the later part of the scene, when the pantomime horses have to tap on the floor.
- Trapped Behind Enemy Lines: The "Ypres 1914" sketch.
- Trolling Translator: The "Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook" sketch had a phrasebook that gave bogus translations from Hungarian to English, such as translating the Hungarian "Can you direct me to the station?" into the English "please fondle my bum". The publisher of this phrasebook was taken to court for "breach of the peace".
- Trope Makers: They coined their own genre, "pythonesque". c.f. Seinfeld Is Unfunny.
- Unsatisfiable Customer: One sketch inverts this and has Unsatisfiable Waitstaff, who angst over one dirty fork, resulting in utter carnage.
- Unusual Euphemism: "Semprini" and the "Nudge Nudge" sketch.
- Unusual Pets for Unusual People: The "Fish License" sketch has John Cleese asking a license for his pet halibut. The man behind the counter (Michael Palin) finds this strange and unnecessary. Cleese then defends himself by referring to other historical people who had unusual pets, such as Marcel Proust. In the end it turns out Cleese's character also wants a license for his pet bee, who is called "Eric the Half-A-Bee", because he was dissected accidentally.
- The Unwitting Comedian: Mr. Holden from the "Man Who Makes People Laugh" sketch. Mr. Holden is an average, middle-aged man who's words causes those that hear it to burst out in hysterical laughter, even though everything he says isn't humorous in the slightest. This eventually gets him fired by his boss, who is desperately holding in hysterical laughter as he speaks with him, because his laughter inducement is considered obstructive by his fellow employees.
- Verbal Backspace:
- In the Spanish Inquisition's first appearance, Cardinal Ximenez is forced to repeatedly revise the number of their chief weapons as new ones keep occurring to him."Our chief weapon is surprise! Surprise and fear! Fear and surprise- our two weapons are fear and surprise and ruthless efficiency- our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency, and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope- our four- no... amongst our weapons... amongst our weaponry, are such elements as fear, surprise... I'll come in again."
- "This expedition is primarily to investigate reports of cannibalism and necrophilia in- This expeditions is primarily to investigate reports of unusual marine life in the as yet uncharted Lake Paho."
- In the Spanish Inquisition's first appearance, Cardinal Ximenez is forced to repeatedly revise the number of their chief weapons as new ones keep occurring to him.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: The Pythons loved referencing history, arts and culture to an extent that most modern shows would never get away with.
- Vomiting Cop: Live performances of the "Crunchy Frog" sketch had Constable Parrot (Terry Gilliam) vomit into his hat, onstage, after Inspector Praline mentions "Anthrax Ripple," as seen in Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl. After having done so, Praline orders Parrot to put the hat back on — which he does. Cue the vomit sliding down Gilliam's face. note
- We Interrupt This Program: ...to annoy you, and to make things generally more irritating.
- Weirdness Magnet: The starring character of the "Michael Ellis" episode.
- What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: Invoked by John Cleese's character in the "Cheese Shop" sketch after he shoots the shopkeeper of a cheese shop, because he just found out that the shop is completely devoid of cheese after five minutes of questioning the shopkeeper.
- When I Was Your Age...: The "Four Yorkshiremen" sketch.
- When Props Attack: The deliberately-awful fight with the lion during the "Scott of the Sahara" sketch, which randomly switches between stock footage of a real lion, a man in a cheap lion costume, and "Scott" holding a small cuddly toy lion to his neck.
- Where's the Fun in That?:
Hank: Well, I follow the moth in the helicopter to lure it away from the flowers, and then Roy comes along in the Lockheed Starfighter and attacks it with air-to-air missiles.
- The "Mosquito Hunters" sketch:
Roy: A lot of people have asked us why we don't use fly spray. Well, where's the sport in that?
- A sketch about a man going camel-spotting ends with the interviewer noting that, in fact, he's train-spotting, to which the man replies, "Oh, you're no fun anymore." This line is then used by mischevious band members, a woman whose vampiric lover loses his fangs, and a man who undergoes the lash ("Cut him down!" "Oh, you're no fun anymore!") This causes the original to threaten action agaisnt anyone else that uses the line, which he acts upon in the next sketch.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Oh so very much averted. John Cleese has said that the reason Michael Palin rarely plays a woman in sketches is that he actually looks good dressed in women's clothes, and that's much less funny than obvious men trying to pass for women.
- Whoopee Cushion
- Widget Series: The series established the U.K.'s reputation as a purveyor of weird comedy.
- Wig, Dress, Accent: The best-known example in modern times.
- Wildlife Commentary Spoof: "Here ve see a large pantomime horse engaged in a life or death struggle..."
- William Telling: One of the German episodes begins with a William Tell sketch. It has Tell successfully shooting the apple, then the camera zooms out to show his son's body is riddled with arrows from previous attempts.
- Word Salad Title: The team specifically wanted a nonsensical title for the programme and considered several. The runners-up were mostly reused as episode titles for Series 1, such as "The Ant, an Introduction" and "Owl-Stretching Time". One title that was never used in an episode (although it was referenced in "Royal Episode 13") is "The Toad Elevating Moment".
- World of Chaos: Most of their animated interludes are set there.
- Worst News Judgment Ever
- Nationwide decides that the theory that sitting down in a comfortable chair can rest your legs is worth reporting on, instead of the start of World War III.
- While another news programme sent its reporters to scenes of civil war, largely to find out what the military leaders kept in their storage jars.
- Yaoi Fangirl: Sir Philip Sidney's wife.
- You Can Leave Your Hat On: Two episodes involve a rather naughty strip-tease... and both are performed not by lovely ladies, but by a doughy Welshman. With a moustache.
"I'm an editor and I'm okay! I trope all night and I sleep all day!""NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPA — oh, bugger!"