Can we just count this whole show as one giant Crowning Moment of Funny? No?
- The interview with Sir Edward Ross, which becomes a bit too friendly; the host first calls him Edward, then Ted, then Eddie-baby:Host: I didn't really call you Eddie-baby, did I, sweetie?
Ross: Don't call me sweetie!!
Host: Can I call you sugar plum?
Host: Pussy cat?
Ross: No you may not! Now get on with it!
Host: Can I call you 'Frank'?
Ross: Why Frank?
Host: It's a nice name. Robin Day's got a hedgehog called Frank.
Ross: What is going on?
Host: Frannie, little Frannie, Frannie Knickers...
- The Funniest Joke in the World. A joke whose humor is so intense that the man who wrote it (and all who subsequently read the whole thing) died in a fit of shrieking laughter. Taken to hilarious extremes with its apparent use in World War II (in a German translation).
- It had to be translated one word at a time by different experts. One translator accidentally saw two words and had to spend many weeks in the hospital.
- For historical buffs, the mention of Britain's "great pre-War Joke": a clip of Neville Chamberlain celebrating the signing of the Munich Agreement, widely considered one of the biggest diplomatic blunders in British history.
- Tommies are shown running through a battlefield shouting its German translation: "Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!" The enemy soldiers promptly drop dead of laughter. It gets even funnier if you actually do speak German: it's complete gibberish.
- In a meta example, if you put the German version of the joke into Google Translate, it returns "[Fatal Error]".
Episode 2: Sex and Violence
- Emboldened by his Spirit Advisor, Arthur Pewtey attempts to invoke Heroic Resolve and get his wife back from the Marriage Guidance Counsellor currently shagging her in the next room. The end of the sketch features the introduction of one of the series' recurring characters, Terry Gilliam's knight with a rubber chicken:Southerner: Now you go back in there, my son, and be a man. Walk tall. [Exits]
Arthur Pewtey: Yes, I will. I will. I've been pushed around long enough! This is it. This is your monent Arthur Pewtey - this is it, Arthur Pewtey! At last, you're a man!
[He opens the door very determinedly and goes back into the room.]
Arthur Pewtey: All right, Deirdre, come out of there!
Counsellor: [From behind screen] Go away.
Arthur Pewtey: Right. [begins to leave, but is stopped by the knight with the rubber chicken, who hits him over the head with the chicken]
Title card: So much for pathos
- The Northern Playwright sketch, inverting the cliched father/son class struggle by having the coarse, vulgar father be the genius artist and the suit-wearing, well-spoken son the hard-working coal miner.
- As Ken (Eric) enters his parents' modestly-furnished front room, his mother (Terry Jones) is delighted to see him, but his father (Graham) is unimpressed by his clothes or the airs he thinks he has put on since leaving London for Yorkshire:[Mum is pouring hot water from the kettle into a teapot while Dad is drinking from a glass of ale. There is a knock at the front door; Mum looks to Dad, who nods, and then she opens the door to reveal Ken in a suit and tie]
Mum: [heavy Northern accent] Oh, Dad! [she and Ken hug] Look who's come to see us, it's our Ken! [Ken reaches his hand toward his father, expecting a handshake; Dad spits on his hand instead]
Dad: [even heavier Northern accent] Aye, and about bloody time if you ask me!
Ken: [RP accent] Aren't you pleased to see me, Father?
Mum: Yes, of course he's pleased to see you, Ken, he's-
Dad: All right, woman, all right! I've got a tongue in me head! I'll do t' talking! [looks Ken up and down with disgust] Aye... I like yer fancy suit! Is that what they're wearing up in Yorkshire now!?
Ken: It's just an ordinary suit, Father. [Dad scoffs] It's all I've got apart from the overalls.
Mum: How are you liking it down the mine, Ken? [ushers him into a chair]
Ken: [sitting down] Oh, it's not too bad, Mum. We're using some new tungsten carbide drills for the preliminary coalface scouring operations.
Mum: [handing Ken a cup of tea] Ooh, that sounds nice, dear.
Dad: "Tungsten carbide drills"!? What the bloody hell's "tungsten carbide drills"?!
Ken: [testily] It's something they use in coal mining, Father.
Dad: [sarcastically imitating Ken] "It's something they use in coal mining, Father!" You're bloody fancy talk since you left London!
Ken: Not that again...
- Ken's attempts to understand his father's world while getting him to accept the choices he has made quickly - and hilariously - break down:Mum: Oh, he's, he's had a hard day, dear. His new play opens at t' National Theatre tomorrow!
Ken: Oh, that's good!
Dad: "Good"!? "GOOD"?! What do you know about it? What do you know about gettin' up at five o'clock in t' morning to fly to Paris, back at the Old Vic for drinks at twelve, sweating the day through press interviews, television interviews, then getting back here at ten to wrestle with the problem of an 'omosexual nymphomaniac drug addict involved in the ritual murder of a well-known Scottish footballer? That's a full working day, lad, and don't you forget it!
Mum: Oh, don't shout at the boy, Father...
Dad: Aye, 'Ampstead wasn't good enough for you, was it! You 'ad to go poncin' off to Barnsley! You and your coal mining friends!
Ken: [his anger boils over] Coal mining is a wonderful thing, Father! [Dad scoffs; Ken stands up] But it's something you'll never understand! Just look at you!
Mum: [stands up and gets between Ken and Dad] Oh, Ken, be careful! You know what he's like after a few novels!
Dad: [stands up] Right. Right. Go on, lad, c'mon, out wi' it. What's wrong wi' me?... yer TIT! [sits down again]
Ken: I'll tell you what's wrong with you! Your head's addled with novels and poems! You come home every evening reeling of Chateau Latour!
Mum: Oh, don't, don't...
Ken: And look what you've done to Mother! She's worn out with meeting film stars, attending premieres, and giving gala luncheons!
Dad: [bolts to his feet, enraged] THERE'S NOWT WRONG WI' GALA LUNCHEONS, LAD! I've 'ad more gala luncheons than you've had hot dinners!
Mum: Oh, please!...
- As one final inversion, instead of Dad suffering a flare-up of black lung, as he would do if he were a coal miner, he starts suffering another medical ailment caused by his choice of profession:Dad: Agh! [grabs his right forearm and sits down again] Aaagh!
Mum: Oh! Oh no! [rushes over to Dad]
Ken: What is it?
Mum: It's his writer's cramp!
Ken: You never told me about this...
Mum: No, we didn't like to, Ken...
Dad: I'm all right, I'm all right, just... get him out of here!
Mum: Oh, Ken, you'd better go...
Ken: [starts walking toward the door] All right. I'm going.
Dad: After all we've done for him!
Ken: One day you'll realise there's more to life than culture... There's dirt, and smoke, and GOOD HONEST SWEAT!
Dad: [over Ken's last few words] Get out! Get out! GET OUT YOU LABOURER! [Ken slams the door behind him; Dad sits down again, then gets a flash of inspiration] Hey! You know, Mother? I think there's a play there! Get t' agent on t' phone!
Mum: Aye, I think you're right, Frank! It could express... [someone taps on the floor below them] It could express a vital theme of our age!...
[cut to the flat below; a man (Michael) is banging on the ceiling with a broom handle]
Man: Oh, shut up! SHUT UP!... oh, that's better. Now for something completely different: a man with three buttocks.
Mum, Dad: [from upstairs] WE'VE DONE THAT!
Man: OH, ALL RIGHT, ALL RIGHT! [bangs on the ceiling with the broom handle] A man with... nine legs.
Voice (John): [offscreen] He ran away!
Man: Oh, bloody hell!... [looks back and forth] Er... a Scotsman on a horse!
[cut to a Scottish moor; bagpipe music plays as a stereotypically-attired Scotsman on a horse rides into shot, looking confused]
- As Ken (Eric) enters his parents' modestly-furnished front room, his mother (Terry Jones) is delighted to see him, but his father (Graham) is unimpressed by his clothes or the airs he thinks he has put on since leaving London for Yorkshire:
- The Mouse Problem, a thinly-disguised criticism of society's views on homosexuality during the late 60s ...
- ... especially funny considering a behind-the-scenes event that happened later, which combined Funny Moments with Moment of Awesome. A woman sent a letter to the BBC saying that she heard one of the Pythons was gay and that whoever it was should be put to death. Graham Chapman (who co-wrote the sketch with John Cleese) was in fact gay, but — depending on who's telling the story — either John Cleese (because he wanted to leave the show anyway) or Eric Idle (who just thought the whole thing hilarious) anonymously wrote back to the woman assuring her quite solemnly that the gay Python had been unmasked and duly stoned to death. Cleese then, of course, failed to appear in the next series. The woman's reaction to this is unknown.
- ... and, of course, even more so given some parallels that could not possibly have been predicted when the sketch was written.
Episode 3: How to Recognise Different Types of Trees From Quite a Long Way Away
- "How to Recognise Different Types of Trees from Quite a Long Way Away". The sketch which caused a whole generation of people to chuckle to themselves any time larch trees were mentioned.Number one - the Larch. The... Larch.
Number one - the Larch. The... Larch.
Number three - the Larch.
- The Bicycle Repairman sketch:Announcer: Yes! Whenever bicycles are broken, or menaced by International Communism, Bicycle Repair Man is ready! Ready to smash the communists, wipe them out, and shove them off the face of the earth!... [voice rises hysterically] Mash that dirty red scum, kick 'em in the teeth where it hurts! Kill! Kill! Kill! The filthy bastard commies, I hate 'em! I hate 'em! AAAUUUUUUURRRRGH!
Announcer's Wife: Tea's ready!
Announcer: [calming down immediately] Coming, dear! [exits, followed by the knight with the chicken]
- The "Storytime" sketch.Storyteller: Hello, Children, hello. Here is this morning's story. Are you ready? Then we'll begin. [opens book and begins reading]note "One day, Ricky the magic Pixie went to visit Daisy Bumble in her tumbledown cottage. He found her in the bedroom. Roughly he grabbed her heavy shoulders, pulling her down onto the bed and ripping off her..." [trails off, stunned; flips over several pages, then gives the camera a slightly forced smile] "Old Nick the Sea Captain was a rough, tough, jolly sort of fellow. He loved the life of the sea. And he loved to hang out down by the pier... where the men dressed as ladies!?" [flips over several more pages, incredulous; eventually a technician pokes him with a stick from offscreen] Uh! Ah... [he gives the camera an even more forced smile] "Rumpletweezer ran the Dinky Tinky Shop in the foot of the magic oak tree by the wobbly dumdum bush in the shade of the magic glade down in Dingly Dell. Here he sold contraceptives and..." [trails off again, even more stunned, and flips over several pages] "Discipline"!? "Naked..." [turns the book sideways as if looking at a magazine centrefold] "... with a melon"?!
- The Dirty Fork. From a restaurant customer making a "by the way" remark about his fork, all the way to the entire restaurant staff scattered as dead bodies around the customer's table. One of the ways the Pythons enhanced the effectiveness of their humor was to eliminate the punchlines from their jokes. A snarky one-liner as payoff for an epic comic situation is to the Pythons what meat is to vegetarians. They demonstrate this in Dirty Fork (an occasion never repeated) with a deliberately bad punchline. "Lucky we didn't say anything about the dirty knife." Just as they predicted, the audience booed.
- The "Nudge Nudge" sketch is the second sketch of the episode to feature a deliberately anti-climactic punchline with a much funnier build-up. From "Mr. Nudge" (Eric) asking his fellow drinker (Terry Jones) if his wife is "a goer" ("She sometimes goes, yes!"), leading him to ask if he's trying to sell something, then "Mr. Nudge" asking if the other man's wife is "a sport" ("She's very fond of cricket, as a matter of fact!" "... who isn't?"), suggesting she's "been around" ("Yes, she's travelled, she's from Purley!" "Oh, say no more, Purley!"), and asking if she's interested in "photographs" ("No, we don't have a camera!"), and finally making lusty "WOOAAAGHH!" noises, all the while punctuated with "Nudge nudge, know what I mean, nudge nudge, say no more!" and variations thereon. At which point the other drinker slams down his pint:Man: Look! Are you insinuating something!?
"Mr. Nudge": Oh, ho ho ho, oh... yes.
"Mr. Nudge": Well, I mean, er... [chuckles nervously] I mean, you're a man of the world, aren't you. I mean... you've been there, haven't you? I mean, you've been around, eh?
Man: [folds arms and glares at "Mr. Nudge"] What do you mean?...
"Mr. Nudge": Well, I mean, like, you've, er, you've, you've done it. [looks around self-consciously] I mean, like, you know, you've slept... with a lady.
"Mr. Nudge": [eagerly] What's it like?
[quick zoom in on the stunned man's face; huge artificial laugh from laugh track over groan from real studio audience]
Episode 4: Owl Stretching Time
- The Pythons only occasionally tried their hand at live-action silent comedy, but the results were always good for laughs. This episode features a film about a beachgoer (Terry Jones) in a stereotypical striped blazer, white trousers, and straw boating hat who struggles to find somewhere to change into his swimming costume in privacy, resulting in a Running Gag in which he ends up exposed to all eyes with his trousers around his ankles, all accompanied by a Wurlitzer organ rendition of the "Colonel Bogey" march.
- After seeing everyone on the beach looking at him (with vague interest rather than disapproval) when he tries to change in public, he picks up what he thinks is his towel and wraps it around his waist - but it turns out to be the towel of another bather, who grabs it back. He finds a changing hut, but as he removes his trousers, he sees a pair of feet standing next to the hut, and exits to find their owner (Michael) seemingly covering his face as he peers through a hole in the fabric. He kicks the voyeur in the backside - only to discover he was just trying to light his cigarette out of the wind. When the beachgoer tries to go back into the hut, a matronly woman has already gone in ahead of him and throws him out.
- He moves on to hiding behind a parked ice cream van, only for a policeman to tell the driver to move on. The beachgoer hastily pulls up his trousers and runs off as the outraged policeman marches toward him, readying his notebook and pen. He then tries asking the doorman (Graham) at a hotel about going inside to get changed, but the doorman misunderstands his miming and removes his own trousers instead as the beachgoer runs off in horror. Next, he hides behind a large stack of deckchairs, only for an equally large group of tourists to arrive and completely deplete the stack. He rushes behind the attendant's hut, only for two workmen to dismantle it.
- His desperation increasing, he hides behind a "What the Butler Saw" machine on the pier, only for an elderly couple to put money in the machine and see a film of the beachgoer removing his trousers, whereupon they look up, see the real thing, and begin attacking him. Finally, he ducks into what appears to be a darkened theatre and starts removing his trousers - only for the house lights to go up on him as burlesque music begins playing. He gives in and makes the removal of his trousers the first part of a full striptease act.
- The Self-Defense Against Fresh Fruit class. On its own it's just a one-dimensional joke, but the pure insanity of the self-defense instructor (played by John Cleese) kicks the whole thing Up to Eleven.
- As the sketch opens, the students are sick to death of learning about defending themselves against attackers armed with fresh fruit, but their protests go ignored.Instructor: Now, self-defence! Tonight I shall be carrying on from where we got to last week when I was showing you how to defend yourselves against anyone who attacks you armed with a piece of fresh fruit! [the students groan]
Michael: You promised you wouldn't do fruit this week.
Instructor: What do you mean!?
Terry: We've done fruit the last nine weeks!
Instructor: What's wrong with fruit?! You think you know it all, eh!?
Michael: But couldn't we do something else, for a change?
Eric: [smiles] Like someone who attacks you with a pointèd stick?
Instructor: [livid] Pointed sticks?! Oh, oh, oh, we want to learn how to defend ourselves against pointed sticks, do we? Getting all high and mighty, eh? Fresh fruit not good enough for you, eh? Oh, oh, oh, oh, well I'll tell you something, my lad!! When you're walking home tonight and some great homicidal maniac comes after you with a bunch of loganberries, don't come crying to me!
- The instructor finally establishes that he hasn't taught the class how to defend themselves against someone armed with a banana.Instructor: Now, it's quite simple to defend yourself against the banana fiend! First of all, you force him to drop the banana! Next, you eat the banana, thus disarming him! You have now rendered him helpless!
Michael: Supposing he's got a bunch.
Instructor: ... Shut up!
Eric: Supposing he's got a pointèd stick.
Instructor: SHUT UP!
- He tells them the key is to disarm the attacker and then eat the banana. What he doesn't tell them is that disarming the attacker involves shooting him, as Mr. Apricot - er, Harrison (Graham Chapman) - finds out the difficult (and fatal) way.Instructor: Come at me with that banana! Come at me with it! As long as you like. C'mon, c'mon, come—
[Graham calmly walks towards the instructor non-threateningly]
Instructor: NO, NO, no, no, no, no, no! Put something into it! For God's sake! HOLD IT LIKE THAT! SCREAM! NOW C'MON, C'MON ATTACK ME! C'MON, C'MON!
[Graham screams wildly and charges toward the instructor, who then draws a gun and shoots him dead]
Instructor: NOW... [picks up banana] now, I eat the banana!
- As the students protest, they discover one of their instructor's fears:Instructor: Look, I'm only doing me job! I have to show you how to defend yourselves against fresh fruit!
Eric: And pointèd sticks.
Instructor: SHUT UP!
Michael: Supposing someone come at you with a banana and you haven't got a gun?
Instructor: [pause] Run for it.
Terry: Well, you could stand— you could stand and scream for help.
Instructor: Yeah, yeah, you try that with a pineapple down your windpipe!
Instructor: [alarmed] WHERE!? WHERE?!
Terry: Nowhere! I was just saying "pineapple"!
Instructor: Oh blimey, I thought my number was on that one.
Terry: What, on the pineapple?
Instructor: [panicked] WHERE?! WHERE!?
Terry: No, no, no, I was just repeating it!
Instructor: Oh. Oh, I see. Right.
- The instructor then forces Mr. Tinned Peach— er, Thompson (Terry Jones)— to lunge at him with a raspberry. Thompson is not so keen:Instructor: Come on, be as vicious as you like with it!
Terry: [flatly] No.
Instructor: Why not?
Terry: You'll shoot me.
Instructor: I won't!
Terry: Well, you shot Mr. Harrison.
Instructor: That was self-defence! Come on, I promise I won't shoot you.
Eric: You promised you'd tell us about pointèd sticks.
Instructor: SHUT UP! Now, brandish that... brandish that raspberry! Come on, be as vicious as you like with it! Come on!
Terry: No, throw the gun away.
Instructor: I haven't got a gun!
Terry: Oh, yes you have!
Instructor: I haven't!
Terry: You have! You shot Mr. Harrison with it!
Instructor: Oh... that gun.
Terry: Throw it away.
Instructor: All right. [throws his gun away] How to defend yourself against a raspberry, without a gun!
Terry: [outraged] You were going to shoot me!
Instructor: I wasn't, I wasn't, I wasn't!...
Terry: [overlapping] You were!...
Instructor: [overlapping] No, no, I wasn't, I wasn't!... C'mon— C'mon, you worm! You miserable little man, come at me then! Come on, do you worst, you WORM!
- The secret to defending yourself against a raspberry-wielding maniac without a gun? Drop a 16-ton weight on him. When the remaining two students protest the difficulty (and lethality) of this method, the instructor reveals yet another way to deal with a raspberry-wielding lunatic:Instructor: All right clever dick, all right clever dick! You two, come at me with raspberries, there you are, a whole basket each! [hands Michael and Eric a basket of raspberries each] Come on, come at me with them, then!
Michael: No gun?
Michael: No sixteen-ton weight?
Eric: No pointèd stick?
Instructor: SHUT UP!
Michael: No rocks up in the ceiling?
Michael: You won't kill us.
Instructor: I won't kill you!
Instructor: I promise I won't kill you, now, are you going to attack me!?
Michael, Eric: All right.
Instructor: Right, now don't rush me this time! I'm going to turn me back so you can stalk me! [does so] Right! Come up as quietly as you can, right!? Close up behind me, then, in with the raspberries, right?! Start moving!
[Michael and Eric sneak up behind him]
Instructor: Now, the first thing to do when you are being stalked by an ugly mob with raspberries, is to... release the tiger!
[he presses a button, and the wall opens to reveal a wooden tiger which glides along rails toward Michael and Eric; sounds of roaring and cries of pain and alarm]
Instructor: The great advantage of the tiger in unarmed combat is that it not only eats the raspberry-laden foe but also the raspberries! The tiger, however, does not relish the peach! The peach assailant should be attacked with a crocodile! [turns to the empty room] Right! Now, the rest of you, I know you're there! Lurking under the floorboards with your damsons and your prunes... hiding behind the wall bars with your quinces! Well, I'm ready for you! I've wired myself up to two hundred tons of gelignite, and if any one of you so much as tries anything we'll all go up together! I warned you! I warned you! Right, that's it!
[BOOM, an explosion occurs, but the instructor lives]
- As the sketch opens, the students are sick to death of learning about defending themselves against attackers armed with fresh fruit, but their protests go ignored.
- Secret Service Dentists. The whole thing is a hilarious semi-James Bond parody with lots of great jokes.
Episode 5: Man's Crisis of Identity in the Latter Half of the 20th Century
- Graham Chapman's 'reassuringly professional' vet from the opening scene.Title Card: SUBURBAN LOUNGE NEAR ESHER
[a couple (Michael and Terry Jones) are watching their cat through the back window; the cat sits motionless on the lawn. A car is heard pulling up in front of the house; the door is heard opening and closing]
Husband: Oh good, that'll be the vet, dear.
Wife: I'd better go and let him in. [hurries off and returns with the vet] It's the vet, dear.
Husband: Oh, very glad indeed you could come round, sir.
Vet: Not at all. Now what seems to be the problem? You can tell me... I'm a vet, you know.
Wife: See! Tell him, dear.
Wife: It's our cat. He doesn't do anything. He just sits out there on the lawn.
Vet: [dramatically] Is he... dead?
Wife: Oh, no!
Vet: [even more dramatically] Thank God for that. [directly to camera] For one ghastly moment I thought I was... too late. [to different camera] If only more people would call in the nick of time!
Wife: He just sits there, all day and every day.
Husband: And at night-
Wife: Sh! Almost motionless. We have to take his food out to him.
Husband: And his milk-
Wife: Sh! He doesn't do anything. He just sits there.
Vet: Are you at your wits' end?
Wife: Definitely... [Husband opens his mouth to speak] Sh! Yes.
Vet: Hm. I see. Well I think I may be able to help you. You see... [he goes over to armchair and sits down, then gestures to the couple to do the same, which they do as he crosses his legs, pulls his glasses out of his blazer pocket and puts them on, and puts his fingertips together to look suitably serious and professional] Your cat is suffering from what we vets haven't found a word for. His condition is typified by total physical inertia, absence of interest in its ambience... what we Vets call environment. Failure to respond to the conventional external stimuli. A ball of string, a nice... [licks lips hungrily] juicy mouse, a bird. [removes glasses dramatically] To be blunt, your cat is in a rut. [the couple look distraught] It's the old... [replaces glasses] stockbroker syndrome, the suburban fin de siècle ennui, angst, weltschmerz, call it what you will.
Wife: [dabbing her eyes with a hankie] Moping.
Vet: In a way, in a way... [to himself] Hm, "moping", I must remember that.
- The vet calls in a professional Confuse-A-Cat service, which operates much like a military operation complete with a harsh drill sergeant ("WAIT FOR IT!") and ranking officer (John) to oversee it. They then put on a bizarre stage act in front of the couple's cat in to shake it out of its moping. Said stage act involves Long John Silver delivering an introduction before vanishing into thin air, followed by a strange boxing match in which different hats appear and disappear on the fighters' heads and a chase scene involving a man in a towel, a man in a penguin suit on a pogo stick, a man dressed as Napoleon, and a policeman. The scene periodically cuts to the reactions of the cat (apparent indifference) and the couple (if their cat isn't confused yet, they certainly are).General: I hope to God it works.
- Graham Chapman's 'reassuringly professional' vet from the opening scene.
- A talk show host decides to "ask the man in the street what he thinks".Woman in Street: [seductively] I am not a man, you silly billy.
Man on Roof: [pours himself some tea from a thermos, then sees camera] I'm not in the street, you fairy!
Man in Street: Well, er, speaking as a man in the street- [gets run over by car] WAAGH!
Confused man: What was the question again?
Interviewer: Just how relevant are contemporary customs regulations and currency restrictions in a modern expanding industrial economy? [the man looks even more confused] Oh, never mind...
Pepperpot: Well, I think customs men should be armed, so they can kill people carrying more than two hundred cigarettes.
Gumby: [getting up from a deckchair] Well I, I think that, er, nobody who has gone abroad should be allowed back in the country! I mean, er, blimey, blimey, if they're not keen enough to stay here when they're 'ere, why should we allow them back, er, at the taxpayer's expense?! I mean, be fair, I mean, I don't eat squirrels, do I!? I mean, well, perhaps I do, one or two, but there's no law against that, is there!? It's a free country! [the knight with the rubber chicken enters, stroking the chicken like a Right-Hand Cat] I mean if I want to eat a squirrel now and again, that's me own business, innit?! I mean, I'm no racialist! I, oh, oh... [notices the knight and covers his head in anticipation; the knight slams him in the stomach with the rubber chicken instead, knocking him out of frame, then walks off after him - after first turning to look at the camera for a few seconds]
- "Letters and Opinions".
- "My husband, in common with a lot of people of his age, is fifty."
- "Well that's, er, very interesting, because, er, I am, in fact, made entirely of wood."
- "I think there should be more race prejudice." [slapped] "Less!" "Less race prejudice."
- "Silly Job Interview". Good-a-night-a-ding-ding-ding...
- The Burglar (who is actually an Encyclopaedia Salesman) sketch, in which Eric Idle tells a housewife that he'd like to enter her house and steal a few things; she remains suspicious that he's actually selling encyclopaedias, but finally agrees to let him in. Sure enough, as he begins taking things from her shelves and putting them in his jacket, he muses, "Mind you, I don't know whether you've really considered the advantages of owning a really fine set of modern encyclopaedias!" And that was a successful encyclopaedia salesman. An unsuccessful one is portrayed as a mannequin plummeting from a tall building. Followed by two more.
Episode 6: It's the Arts (or: The BBC Entry to the Zinc Stoat of Budapest)
- Non-Illegal Robbery. Hilarious all the way through, but the best part is this exchange:Larry: We don't seem to be doin' anythin' illegal!
Boss: What d'you mean?
Larry: Well, we're payin' for the watch.
Larry: Well, why're we payin' for the watch?
Boss: [snorts] They wouldn't give it to us if we didn't pay for it, would they?
- The "crunchy frog" sketch, which may be J. K. Rowling's inspiration for the chocolate frogs of Harry Potter (at the very least, it is the source of Cockroach Clusters, another candy in HP). What really sells the sketch is the performances of Terry Jones as Whizzo Chocolate Company owner Mr Milton, who is devotedly proud of his company's revolting concoctions and reacts with offense to the notion that they don't use real frogs, and John as Inspector Praline, who seems more shocked at how dense Mr Milton is being than anything else.
- Praline, accompanied by the very queasy-looking Superintendent Parrot (Graham),note tells Mr Milton that the cherry fondue chocolate in the Whizzo Quality Assortment is extremely nasty, but not enough to merit prosecution. Things take a sudden turn for the bizarre with the next chocolate:Inspector Praline: Next, we have No.4... Crunchy Frog.
Mr Milton: Ah, yes, ha ha.
Praline: Am I right in thinking there's a real frog in here?
Milton: Yes - a little one. [holds up his finger and thumb to illustrate]
Praline: What sort of frog?
Milton: A dead frog.
Praline: Is it cooked?
Praline: [shocked] What, a raw frog?? [Supt. Parrot is now looking very ill indeed]
Milton: [clasping his hands rhapsodically] We use only the finest baby frogs, dew picked and flown from Iraq, cleansed in finest quality spring water, lightly killed, and then sealed in a succulent Swiss quintuple smooth treble cream milk chocolate envelope and lovingly frosted with glucose.
Praline: That's as may be, it's still a frog.
Milton: What else?
Praline: Well, don't you even take the bones out?
Milton: [offended] If we took the bones out it wouldn't be crunchy would it?
Praline: Superintendent Parrot ate one of those.
Parrot: Excuse me a moment... [runs out of the room, covering his mouth and heaving]
Milton: It says "Crunchy Frog" quite clearly.
Praline: Well, the superintendent thought it was an almond whirl. People won't expect there to be a frog in there, they're bound to think it's some form of mock frog!
Milton: [outraged] Mock frog!? We use no artificial preservatives or additives of any kind!
Praline: Nevertheless, I must warn you that in future, you should delete the words "Crunchy Frog" and replace them with the legend "Crunchy, Raw, Unboned, Real, Dead Frog" if you want to avoid prosecution!
Milton: What about our sales?
Praline: I'm not interested in your sales, I have to protect the general public!
- The next chocolate continues the descent into audacity:Praline: Now, how about this one? [Parrot returns, looking exhausted] It was No.5, wasn't it? [Parrot nods uneasily] No.5, Ram's Bladder Cup. [Parrot only just gets out of the room before the vomiting begins anew] What kind of confection is this?
Milton: [with the same rhapsodic tone as before] We use choicest juicy chunks of fresh Cornish ram's bladder, emptied, steamed, flavoured with sesame seeds, whipped into a fondue... and garnished with lark's vomit.
Praline: ... lark's vomit!?
Praline: Well it don't say nothin' about that 'ere! [indicates the paper from the box]
Milton: Oh, yes it does, on the bottom of the box, after "monosodium glutamate".
Praline: [lifts the box and reads the underside, then puts it down again] Well, I hardly think this is good enough! I think it would be more appropriate if the bore-note if the box bore a large red label: "WARNING - LARK'S VOMIT"!
Milton: [mortified] Our sales would plummet!
Praline: Well, why don't you move into more conventional areas of confectionery! Like... praline, or... lime creme, a very popular flavour, I'm led to understand!
- And Mr Milton just keeps digging himself deeper, and Parrot just gets more and more sick:note Praline: I mean, look at this one! Cockroach Cluster! [Parrot returns for just long enough to hear the words, then covers his mouth and runs out again] Anthrax Ripple! What's this one, Spring Surprise!
Milton: Ah, ah, that, that's our speciality! Covered in darkest, creamy chocolate, when you pop it in your mouth, steel bolts spring out and plunge straight through both cheeks. [smiles proudly]
Praline: Well, where's the pleasure in that?! If people place a nice choccy in their mouths, they don't want their cheeks pierced! In any case, this is an inadequate description of the sweetmeat. I shall have to ask you to accompany me to the station. [stands up and walks around to arrest Milton]
Milton: [Breaking the Fourth Wall] It's a fair cop.
Praline: Stop talking to the camera!
Milton: Sorry. [Praline leads him out as Parrot returns, looking like death warmed up]
Parrot: If only the general public would take more care when buying its sweeties, it would reduce the number of man hours lost to the nation, and they would spend less time having their stomachs pumped and sitting around in public lavatories. [covers his mouth as the vomiting begins yet again]
- Praline, accompanied by the very queasy-looking Superintendent Parrot (Graham),note tells Mr Milton that the cherry fondue chocolate in the Whizzo Quality Assortment is extremely nasty, but not enough to merit prosecution. Things take a sudden turn for the bizarre with the next chocolate:
- A Scotsman on a horse! The Scotsman rides to a small kirk in which an unhappy-looking young couple are entering into what is obviously an Arranged Marriage, whereupon our horse-riding hero charges down the aisle, and rescues... the groom.
- "20th Century Vole", Graham and John's parody of Hollywood and a rare sketch that features all six Pythons (plus Ian Davidson).Irving C. Saltzberg:note A love story! Intercourse Italian style! David Hemmings as a hippy Gestapo officer! Frontal nudity! A family picture! A comedy!
Episode 7: You're No Fun Anymore
- The Pythons' attempts at longform sketches on the small screen tended to be a bit hit-or-miss, but the "Science Fiction Sketch" from this episode is a wickedly funny parody of British TV science fiction of the time, and uncannily anticipates the sort of material that cropped up regularly in the Jon Pertwee era of Doctor Who six months later. From the very premise - sentient blancmanges from Andromeda who are turning everyone in Britain into Scotsmen (which involves them suddenly wearing kilts and sprouting long red beards - whether man, woman, or child - and then racing off in pixellated motion with one fist raised) so that they become terrible at tennis and the blancmanges can win Wimbledon - to Graham's square-jawed Science Hero whose flair for the dramatic, including rhetorical questions and waxing metaphorical, causes no end of confusion for his Dumb Blonde assistant (whom he eventually knocks out when he tires of her penchant for Comically Missing the Point), to the Brick Joke of the Potters, the couple dismissed as unimportant in the opening narration, returning to Centre Court during the men's singles final to devour the blancmange and allow Michael's Angus Podgorny to win the title (fifteen years later), it is a veritable parade of laughs.note
Episode 8: Full Frontal Nudity
- Every appearance of Graham Chapman's Colonel character reprimanding the show, especially:Now, I've noticed a tendency for this program to get rather silly. Now I do my best to keep things moving along, but I'm not having things getting silly. Those last two sketches I did got very silly indeed. And that last one about the beds was even sillier. Now, nobody likes a good laugh more than I do, except perhaps my wife and some of her friends. Oh yes, and Captain Johnson. Come to think of it, most people like a good laugh more than I do, but that's beside the point.
- The episode's subtitle heralds a discussion of art by a critic (Michael) who apparently had ulterior motives to go into art criticism and ends up sliding helplessly down the Freudian Slippery Slope - at least until he is stopped in his descent by a really bad joke...Art Critic: [studying a nude painting; starts in shock when he notices the camera] Good evening. I'd like to talk to you tonight about the place of the nude in my bed- erm, in the history of me bed- of art, of art, I'm sorry... The place of the nude in the history of tart- call-girl- I'm sorry, I'll start again. Bum- oh, what a giveaway! [looks horribly embarrassed] The place of the nude in art... [a young woman (Katya Wyeth) enters seductively] Oh hello there, Father, er, Confessor, Professor, Your Honour, Your Grace...
Art Critic's Wife: [cutely] I'm not your Grace... I'm your Elsie.
Art Critic: ... what a terrible joke!
Art Critic's Wife: [wails] BUT IT'S MY ONLY LINE!...note
- As the art critic begins strangling his wife in the middle of a field, a newly-married couple (Terry Jones and Carol Cleveland) still in their wedding clothes runs past and into the Buying a bed sketch, one of the most relentlessly random things they ever did.
- As if having to remember that Mr Verity (Eric) multiplies every number he mentions by 10 while Mr Lambert (Graham) divides every number he mentions by 3 isn't bad enough, the newly-married couple are told that they must say "dog kennel" in front of Mr Lambert instead of "mattress", leading the latter to keep directing them to the pet department. When he asks what Mr Verity has been telling them about him, the groom says they were told not to say "mattress" in front of him... whereupon he puts a paper bag on his head.Mr Verity: Did you say "mattress"?
Groom: Well, a little, yes...
Mr Verity: I did ask you not to say "mattress", didn't I? Now I've got to stand in the tea chest. [drags a tea chest onto screen, climbs into it and starts singing at the top of his lungs] AND DID THOSE FEET, IN ANCIENT TIMES, WALK UPON ENGLAND'S MOUNTAINS GREEN...
Manager (John): Did somebody say "mattress" to Mr Lambert!? [Mr Verity points to the groom; the manager sighs and steps into the tea chest with Mr Verity]
Mr Verity, Manager: AND WAS THE HOLY LAMB OF GOD, ON ENGLAND'S PLEASANT- [Mr Lambert removes the bag]
- The manager leaves after pointing a warning finger at the bridal couple, while Mr Verity reminds them not to... anyway, when the groom finally indicates a mattress, Mr Lambert asks why he didn't just say "mattress". The startled groom says Mr Lambert put a bag over his head the last time he said "mattress"- too late, the bag goes on again, and Mr Verity stands in the tea chest and belts out the second verse of "Jerusalem". The icing on the cake is the glare the manager gives the couple before smacking the flat of his hand against his own forehead as if to say "Idiots!" before joining in the song... followed by a third salesman (Michael), and then the bridal couple, and finally stock footage of a crowd in St Peter's Square in the Vatican. As they are reaching the end of the last line, Mr Lambert finally takes the bag off his head, and then...Mr Lambert: Now then, can I help you?
Bride: We want a mattress. [Mr Lambert replaces the bag immediately]
Everyone else: [overlapping] What did you say that for!?
Bride: [wails] BUT IT'S MY ONLY LINE!
Everyone else: Well, you didn't have to say it! [the bride wails louder as everyone begins bunny-hopping off stage]
- As if having to remember that Mr Verity (Eric) multiplies every number he mentions by 10 while Mr Lambert (Graham) divides every number he mentions by 3 isn't bad enough, the newly-married couple are told that they must say "dog kennel" in front of Mr Lambert instead of "mattress", leading the latter to keep directing them to the pet department. When he asks what Mr Verity has been telling them about him, the groom says they were told not to say "mattress" in front of him... whereupon he puts a paper bag on his head.
- It may be old now, but everyone remembers the first time they saw the Dead Parrot Sketch. As is so often the case with Python sketches, what really makes it work is John's smouldering anger as the customer, Mr. Praline, and Michael's insistent denial, no matter what the evidence presented to him, that the parrot has been dead since long before he sold it to Mr. Praline."Paaayynin' for the fjords? What kind of talk is that?!"
Episode 9: The Ant, an Introduction
- The famous Lumberjack Song! "I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay! I sleep all night, I work all day! ... I cut down trees, I wear high heels, suspendies and a bra. I wish I've been a girlie, just like my dear mama!" (It's not until And Now for Something Completely Different that it's changed to 'dear papa'.) "Ooooh, Bevis! And I thought you were so rugged!"Dear Sir,
I wish to complain in the strongest possible terms about the song which you have just broadcast, about the lumberjack who wears women's clothes. Many of my best friends are lumberjacks and only a few of them are transvestites.
Brigadier Sir Charles Arthur Strong (Mrs).
P.S. I have never kissed the editor of the Radio Times.
- And now in German.
- How about a full blown orchestra and choir singers for back up at the London's Royal Albert Hall?
- And in the middle of Palin doing a tribute speech for George Harrison. It counts as the tribute too.
- The would-be introduction of Harry Fink:Compère: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Refreshment Room here at Bletchley. My name is Kenny Lust and I'm your compère for tonight. You know, once in a while it is my pleasure, and my privilege, to welcome here at the Refreshment Room, some of the truly great international artists of our time. And tonight we have one such artist. Ladies and gentlemen, someone whom I've always personally admired, perhaps more deeply, more strongly, more abjectly than ever before. A man, well more than a man, a god, a great god, whose personality is so totally and utterly wonderful my feeble words of welcome sound wretchedly and pathetically inadequate. [by now on his knees] Someone whose boots I would gladly lick clean until holes wore through my tongue, a man who is so totally and utterly wonderful, that I would rather be sealed in a pit of my own filth, than dare tread on the same stage with him. Ladies and gentlemen, the incomparably superior human being, Harry Fink!
Outside voice: He couldn't come!
Compère: [standing up] Never mind, it's not all it's cracked up to be.
- "The Visitors" is very funny, and also rare, as it features all six of the Pythons, as well as Carol Cleveland, on set at the same time. It follows poor Victor (Graham) who is trying to have a quiet evening in with his girlfriend, Iris (Carol), but finds himself getting repeatedly gate crashed by a group of horrible people.
- First is Arthur Name (Eric), otherwise known as the man who tormented Terry Jones in the Nudge Nudge sketch.Arthur: What's brown, what's brown and sounds like a bell?
Victor: I beg your pardon?
Arthur: What's brown and sounds like a bell? Dung!
- Next is Brian and Audrey Equator (John and Terry Jones). Brian is a loud, brash pervert, and Audrey cackles hysterically at the slightest thing.
- After them is Mr Freight (Terry Gilliam), a Camp Gay man whose wife has just died and who is dressed only in a cape, pants, and wellington boots. He has brought along Mr Cook (Michael), whom he has "picked up outside the Odeon". Cook has a goat with him, because he couldn't leave it alone, as it is ill.
- First is Arthur Name (Eric), otherwise known as the man who tormented Terry Jones in the Nudge Nudge sketch.
Episode 10: Untitled
- The Pythons were fond of indulging in meta-humour, and this episode opens with a good example; Eric as a lingerie store clerk and John as an armed robber in Blatant Burglar attire are on a set, muttering impatiently about someone not having arrived. Cut to a kitchen where Frank, a plumber (Michael), is reading a letter from The BBC inviting him to be in a sketch; when the sketch begins, he goes out. (His wife (Terry Jones) notes that it's "what they call a walk-on"; Frank insists it's more a "walk-off".) He finally gets over his initial misgivings and shows up on set - just in time for the sketch to be broadcast live on the television as his wife watches. (The rest of the sketch is understatedly funny as well, with John's armed robber stepping through where the window in the door would be, and having to "adopt, adapt, and improve" after the clerk reveals that he's in a lingerie shop and not a bank, while Eric's clerk remains perfectly calm and genial throughout despite having the barrel of a gun pressed against his nose.)Wife: [switches on the TV; the floor manager ushers Frank into position as the robber exits to wait for his cue] Dad, Frank's got a television part!
[the floor manager leaves the set; Frank looks off screen for his cue, then nods and immediately exits through the shop door]
Wife: [disappointed] You missed him!
- This episode's pet shop sketch with John as a customer and Michael as the shop assistant may not be as widely quoted as the Dead Parrot sketch, but it provides another funny instance of how they couldn't end a sketch on an anti-climactic punchline without lampshading it.
- After initially failing to meet the customer's request for a cat and offering a terrier instead, the shopkeeper tries a bit of misdirection, to no avail:Caption: A PET SHOP SOMEWHERE NEAR MELTON MOWBRAYnote
Customer: [enters shop and approaches counter] Good morning!
Customer: I'd like to buy a cat.
Shopkeeper: Certainly sir... got a lovely terrier. [indicates a box on the counter]
Customer: [studies box for a moment] No, I want a cat really.
Shopkeeper: Oh yeah. [looks toward the far wall; the customer looks in the same direction and the shopkeeper takes advantage of his distraction to pick up the box and put it down a few feet away as if it were a different box] How about that?
Cusomer: [studies box for a moment] No, that's the terrier.
Shopkeeper: Well, it's as near as dammit!
Customer: Well, what do you mean? I want a cat!
- The shopkeeper comes up with an unorthodox solution, but the customer isn't satisfied, then switches his request from a cat to a parrot (no Norwegian Blues are mentioned, though):Shopkeeper: [thinks] Listen, tell you what. I'll file its legs down a bit, take its snout out, stick a few wires through its cheeks. There you are, a lovely pussy cat!
Customer: Its not a proper cat.
Shopkeeper: What do you mean?
Customer: Well, it wouldn't meow!
Shopkeeper: [shrugs] Well, it would howl a bit.
Customer: [considers this for a moment] No... no no no. Er, have you got a parrot?
Shopkeeper: I'm afraid not actually, guv, we're fresh out of parrots... Tell you what though - I'll lop its back legs off, make good, strip the fur, stick a couple of wings on, and staple on a beak of your own choice! [takes out small box labelled "BEAKS" and shakes it; we can hear something rattling around inside it] No problem, lovely parrot!
Customer: And how long would that take?
Shopkeeper: Oh, let me see - er, stripping the fur off, no legs... Harry?
Harry: [off-screen] Yeah?
Shopkeeper: Can you do a parrot job on this, er... can you do a parrot job on this terrier straight away?
Harry: No, I'm still putting a tuck in the Airedale, and then I got the frogs to let out!
Customer: No I need it for tomorrow. It's a present.
Shopkeeper: Oh dear, it's a long job. You see parrot conversion...
- So the shopkeeper comes up with another suggestion, leading into the anti-climactic punchline and attendant lampshading:Shopkeeper: Tell you what though, for free, terriers make lovely fish. I mean I could do that for you straight away. Legs off, fins on, stick a little pipe through the back of its neck so it can breathe, bit of gold paint, make good...
Customer: You'd need a very big tank!
Shopkeeper: It's a great conversation piece!
Customer: [thinks] Yes, all right, all right! But, er... [sotto voce] only if I can watch.
[cut to series of Vox Pops]
John: [shakes head] Oh, I thought that was a bit predictable...
Eric: [shakes head] It's been done before!
Roman Centurion (Terry Jones): [against studio background of clouds on grey sky] Yeah, we did it for Caesar's Christmas Show.
Caesar (Graham): [against same background] No you didn't, you did Jack and the Beanstalk!
- After initially failing to meet the customer's request for a cat and offering a terrier instead, the shopkeeper tries a bit of misdirection, to no avail:
Episode 11: The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Goes to the Bathroom
- The episode opens with, well, the clue is in the episode title. It leads into a series of angry letters from viewers - the third of which puts a lampshade on the other two:Michael: [knocking on bathroom door] Have you finished in there yet? [the first notes of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1 issue forth from inside; Michael sighs in disapproval. Cut to a letter]
Voiceover (John): [reading letter] Dear Sir, I object strongly to the obvious lavatorial turn this show has already taken. Why do we never hear about the good things in Britain, like Mary Bignall's [sic] wonderful jump in 1964? Yours etc., Ken Voyeur.
[cut to grainy black and white footage of Mary Bignal Rand (as she was then known) setting a new world record in the women's long jump at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964; cut to another letter]
Voiceover (Eric): [reading letter] Dear Sir, I object strongly to the obvious athletic turn this show has now taken. Why can't we hear more about the human body? There is nothing embarrassing or nasty about the human body except for the intestines and bits of the bottom.
[cut to yet another letter]
Voiceover (Michael): [reading letter] Dear Sir, I object stronglynote to the letters on your programme. They are clearly not written by the general public and are merely included for a cheap laugh. Yours etc., William Knickers.
[after nearly ten minutes of further sketches, we cut to another letter]
Voiceover (Graham): [reading letter] Dear Sir, I'm sorry this letter is late, it should have come at the beginning of the programme. Yours, Ivor Bigbottie (Age two).
- Ladies and gentlemen, The World of History is proud to present the premiere of the Batley Townswomen's Guild's re-enactment of 'The Battle of Pearl Harbour'. Which involves undercranked footage of five of the Pythons (all except Eric, who plays guild leader Miss Rita Fairbanks, who signals the start of the re-enactment by blowing a whistle) dressed as pepperpots bashing the hell out of each other with their handbags in the middle of a muddy field.
Episode 12: The Naked Ant
- This entire episode of funny is bookended by the "It's" man running around and bouncing off assorted trees as a human pinball, complete with sound effects.note
- The episode proper opens in a railway signal box near Hove, where a signalman (Terry Jones) is fighting off a growling bear, but the scene almost immediately cuts to two office workers (who make an exaggerated show of looking off camera for their cue to begin "working"). One of them (Eric) is stunned to see three people fall past their window to "an almost certain death", but the other (John) simply shrugs it off, finally concluding that it must be a board meeting. By the end of the sketch, there's £5 on the line regarding whether or not Parkinson will be the next person to fall past the window.Voiceover (Graham): [reading letter] Dear Sir, I'm writing to complain about that sketch about people falling out of a high building.note I have worked all my life in such a building and have never once— [the letter trails off as the writer screams; cut to footage of an obvious dummy falling off a tall building]
Eric: [triumphantly] PARKINSON!
John: [protesting] Johnson!
- Spectrum, a satire of current affairs discussion programmes, complete with Motor Mouth host:Presenter (Michael): [talking at breakneck speed] Good evening. Tonight, Spectrum looks at one of the major problems in the world today - that old vexed question of what is going on. Is there still time to confront it, let alone solve it, or is it too late? What are the figures, what are the facts, what do people mean when they talk about things? Alexander Hardacre of the Economic Affairs Bureau.
Hardacre (Graham): [standing in front of bar chart with three columns; he speaks with the same intensity as the presenter] In this graph, this column represents 23% of the population. This column represents 28% of the population. And this column represents 43% of the population.
Presenter: Telling figures indeed, but what do they mean to you, what do they mean to me, what do they mean to the average man in the street? With me now is Professor Tiddles of Leeds University. [pull out to reveal Tiddles sitting next to presenter] Professor, you've spent many years researching into things, what do you think?
Tiddles (John): I think it's too early to tell.
Presenter: [shown in close-up again, speaking even faster] "Too early to tell", too early to say, it means the same thing. The word "say" is the same as the word "tell". They're not spelt the same, but they mean the same. It's an identical situation we have with "ship" and "boat". [holds up signs saying 'SHIP' and 'BOAT'] But not the same as we have with "bow" and "bough" [holds up signs saying 'BOW' and 'BOUGH'], they're spelt differently, mean different things but sound the same. [holds up signs saying 'SO' and 'THERE'] But the real question remains. What is the solution, if any, to this problem? What can we do? What am I saying? Why am I sitting in this chair? Why am I on this programme? And what am I going to say next? Here to answer this is a professional cricketer.
Cricketer (Eric): I can say nothing at this point.
Presenter: Well, you were wrong. Professor? [pull out to reveal Tiddles still sitting next to the presenter]
Presenter: [shown in close-up again, speaking faster still] Hello. So where do we stand? Where do we stand? Where do we sit? Where do we come? Where do we go? What do we do? What do we say? What do we eat? What do we drink? What do we think? What do we do?
[cut to sped up footage of the London to Brighton train, which eventually enters a tunnel; there is a loud crash]
Railway Signalman: [leaning out of the window of his signal box, shouts] Sor-ree! [is dragged back in by the growling bear]
- After an extended sketch in which "Mr. Hilter" (John), with his campaign aides "Ron Vibbentrop" (Graham) and "Heinrich Bimmler" (Michael), is running in the North Minehead by-election (his campaign rally isn't exactly Nuremberg, the audience consisting of three puzzled children and an even more bewildered yokel), a series of Vox Pops leads to a second appearance by the Spectrum presenter:Interviewer: What do you think of Mr Hilter's politics?
Yokel: I don't like the sound of these 'ere "boncentration bamps".
Pepperpot: Well, I gave him my baby to kiss, and he bit it! On the head!
City Gent: Well, I think he'd do a lot of good to the Stock Exchange.
Second Pepperpot: No... no...
Bimmler: (thinly disguised as a yokel, complete with swastika armband) Oh yes, Britischer pals, he is wunderbar... ful. So. [takes a puff on a cigarette and waves]
Third Pepperpot: I think he's right about the coons, but then I'm a bit mental.
Gumby: I THINK... HE'S GOT BEAUTIFUL LEGS!
Tory Candidate: Well speaking as Conservative candidate, I just drone on and on and on, never letting anyone else get a word in edgeways, until I start foaming at the mouth and fall over backwards. [he foams at the mouth and falls over backwards]
[cut to Spectrum presenter at his desk]
Presenter: [speaking as rapidly as ever] Foam at the mouth and fall over backwards. Is he foaming at the mouth to fall over backwards or falling over backwards to foam at the mouth? Tonight, Spectrum examines the whole question of frothing and falling, coughing and calling, screaming and bawling, walling and stalling, galling and mauling, palling and hauling, trawling and squalling and zalling. Zalling? Is there a word "zalling"? If there is, what does it mean? If there isn't, what does it mean? Perhaps both, maybe neither. What do I mean by the word "mean"? What do I mean by the word "word"? What do I mean by "what do I mean"? What do I mean by "do", and what do I do by "mean"? What do I do by do by do, and what do I do by wasting your time like this? Good night.
- I Wish To Report A Burglary. A guy walks into the station to file a burglary report, but the officers end up telling him to file his report in different vocal registers.
- I'm sorry, I can't read this trope entry, sir. Can you try writing it in a higher register?
- CAAAALLING ALL SQUAD CAAARS IN THE AAAAAREAAAAAA!
- "Upper-Class Twit of the Year" dials the Upper-Class Twit trope Up to Eleven with its heroic yet profoundly stupid quintet of competitors doing what upper-class twits do best: running over old ladies, waking up the neighbours by slamming their car doors, heaping abuse on waiters, and generally displaying an almost complete lack of brains or manners. The adrenaline-charged commentary by John Cleese on these events exemplifies Mundane Made Awesome. Some highlights:
- The commentator introduces the competitors with short biographies. Vivian Smith-Smythe-Smith (Eric Idle) has an O-level in kennel hygiene, Simon Zinc-Trumpet-Harris (Terry Jones) is married to a very attractive table lamp, Nigel Incubator-Jones (John Cleese) has a tree as his best friend and is a stockbroker in his spare time, Gervaise Brook-Hamster (Michael Palin) is used as a wastepaper basket by his father, and Oliver St. John-Mollusc (Graham Chapman) is favoured to be the year's outstanding twit. In a way, this prediction comes true...
- The crowd consists entirely of eight other Upper Class Twits holding horse-shaped placards.note
- The start of the race doesn't go as planned:Commentator: [as the starter fires his pistol] THEY'RE OFF! [no reaction from the twits] ...oh, no, they're not. [the "crowd" mutter in disappointment] No, they didn't realize they were supposed to start...
- Vivian has no trouble jumping over the wall three matchboxes high, but Oliver proves less adept:Commentator: [as Vivian hops over the wall] The jump of a lifetime, if only his father could understand!
[later, as Oliver tries and fails yet again to jump the wall] He doesn't know when he's beaten, this boy! He doesn't know when he's winning either! He doesn't have any sort of sensory apparatus!
- Gervaise gets a bit carried away with the "kicking the beggar" obstacle, putting the boot in repeatedly as the beggar yelps in pain until the race steward walks over and informs him that he can move on.
- When Nigel finally succeeds in waking the neighbour by slamming the door of his sports car repeatedly, the commentator shouts, "My GOD, this is exciting!"
- At the "insult the waiter" obstacle, Simon forgets what he is supposed to do and waves at the crowd instead. When he and his fellow twits have insulted the waiter and moved on to the next obstacle (ducking under a bar five feet off the ground), the waiter throws his tray into the air in disgust and storms off.
- Oliver takes himself out of the race, but in so doing proves himself perhaps the worthiest Upper-Class Twit of the Year:Commentator: [shot of Oliver, dead beneath the wheel of the sports car in the "backing over the old lady" obstacle] And Oliver has run himself over! What a great twit!
[as the other twits attempt to remove the bras from four otherwise bare shop dummies, the camera cuts back to Oliver's body] No! There's Oliver, he's dead, but he's not necessarily out of it!
- Two of the obstacles require the twits to pick up guns, but they're poor shots, to say the least. When they have to shoot rabbits that have been tied to the ground from a distance of "almost one foot", Gervaise starts bashing his rabbit with the butt of his hunting rifle, while Nigel throws his rifle aside and begins attacking the rabbit with his bare fists. In the final obstacle, they have to shoot themselves with revolvers; Simon misses his own head and hits Vivian, handing him second place, and eventually he runs out of bullets and clubs himself to death with the butt of his gun to finish fourth.
- And we end with a pan-episode series of Call Backs to answer Robert (Terry Jones) when he asks "Has anyone anything else to say?"Second Robert: No.
Third Robert: No. No.
Railway Signalman: No.
Bear: [shakes head]
Policeman Who Can Only Hear Low Frequencies: [sings] NOOOO!
Policeman Who Can Only Hear High Frequencies: [deep voice] No.
City Gent: No.
Animated Peacock: No.
Fairy Godmother: No.
Second City Gent: Bloody fairy...
Second Pepperpot: No.
Second Gumby: NO!
Nigel Incubator-Jones: [thinking hard] Ahh... no.
Ron Vibbentrop: No.
"Mr. Hilter": No.
Bimmler: Nein. ["Hilter" elbows him] No!
Animated Whale: No.
Tory Candidate: [lying on pavement] No, no, no, no...
Spectrum Presenter: [gets up and walks around to the front of his desk, speaking as quickly as ever] What do we mean by "no"? What do we mean by "yes"? What do we mean by "no, no, no"? Tonight, Spectrum looks at the whole question of what is "no". What is not "no"... [the 16-ton weight falls on top of him]
Episode 13: Intermission (or: It's the Arts)
- In the vegetarian restaurant sketch, a Greek actor suddenly turns up.Prologue: Imagine not that these four walls contain the Mighty Owl of Thebes. For, gentles all, beauty sits most closely to them it can construe.
Head Waiter: No. It Doesn't.
Prologue: Sorry. (leaves)
- Albatross! The version at the Hollywood Bowl's just as hilarious. There are no censors there, and John Cleese takes full advantage of it. Plus, a rather hilarious ad-lib when he goes through the audience.Cleese: You're not supposed to be smoking that!
- The incredibly short sketch about the man and the police inspector - so short it's almost not a sketch, just a naturalistic exploration of the concept of Straight Gay:Man: Inspector? I'm terribly sorry but I was sitting on a park bench over there, took my coat off for a minute and then I found my wallet had been stolen and £15 taken from it.
Inspector: Well did you er, did you see anyone take it, anyone hanging around or...
Man: No no, there was no one there at all. That's the trouble.
Inspector: Well there's not very much we can do about that, sir.
Man: [Awkward pause, quietly] Do you want to come back to my place?
Inspector: ...Yeah, alright.
- "Me, Doctor" is another sterling example of the Pythons knowing when a sketch had run its course and deciding to just cut it short rather than let it fizzle out:[a hospital waiting room; Mr Burtenshaw (Terry Jones) is sitting on a bench]
Mr Burtenshaw: Albatross...
[a doctor (Eric) and nurse (Carol Cleveland) enter]
Doctor: Mr Burtenshaw?
Mr Burtenshaw: [standing] Me, Doctor?
Doctor: No, [pointing] me Doctor, you Mr Burtenshaw.
Mr Burtenshaw: My wife, Doctor?
Doctor: No, your wife patient, me Doctor.
Nurse: Come this way, please.
Mr Burtenshaw: Me, Sister?
Doctor: No, [pointing] she Sister, me Doctor, you Mr Burtenshaw. [the nurse looks put upon; a second nurse (John) enters]
Second nurse: Dr Walters?
Doctor: Me, Nurse. [points to first nurse] You Mr Burtenshaw, [points to Mr Burtenshaw] she Sister, [points to second nurse] you Doctor.
Second nurse: [confused] No, Doctor.
Doctor: No doctor, call ambulance, keep warm.
Nurse: Drink, Doctor?
Doctor: Drink doctor, eat Sister, cook Mr Burtenshaw, nurse me! [points at the last two in turn]
Second nurse: You, Doctor?
Doctor: [delighted] Me Doctor! [pointing] You Mr Burtenshaw, she Nurse!
Mr Burtenshaw: But my wife, Nurse!
Doctor: Your wife not nurse, [points at second nurse] she Nurse, your wife patient, be patient, she nurse your wife. Me Doctor. Yew tree... U-trecht! U-trillo! U Thant, eu-phemism... me Doctor! [the knight with the rubber chicken walks in, hits the doctor over the head, and immediately leaves again; Mr Burtenshaw and the two nurses also leave] ... Albatross!
[cut to stock footage of Women's Institute applauding]
- "Historical Impersonations" inverts the usual idea of having people in the present day impersonate people from history, to hilarious effect:note Gumby: I'D LIKE TO SEE JOHN THE BAPTIST'S IMPERSONATION OF GRAHAM HILL!
[cut to glitzy TV studio with glitzy TV host, played by Michael Palin]
Announcer: Yes, it's Historical Impersonations! When you in the present can make those in the past stars of the future! And here is your host for tonight, Wally Wiggin!
[applause, which cuts off suddenly, revealing it to be a recording]
Wally Wiggin: Hello, good evening, and welcome to Historical Impersonations! And we kick off tonight with Cardinal Richelieu and his impersonation of Petula Clark.
[cut to Richelieu (Michael again), miming along to a recording of Petula Clark's 1967 single "Don't Sleep in the Subway", with dance moves to match]
Richelieu: Don't sleep in the subway darling
Don't stand in the pouring rain...
[cut back to Wiggin]
Wiggin: Cardinal Richelieu, sixteen stone of pure man. And now your favourite Roman emperor, Julius Caesar, as Eddie Waring!
[cut to Julius Caesar (Eric)]
Julius Caesar: [with heavy northern accent and Waring's signature vocal inflections] Tota Gallia divisa est in tres partes: Wigan, Hunslett, and Hull Kingston Rovers!
[cut back to Wiggin]
Wiggin: [claps] Well done indeed, Julius Caesar: a smile, a conquest, and a dagger up your strap. Our next challenger comes all the way from the Crimea. It's the very lovely Florence Nightingale as... Brian London.
[cut to Nightingale (Graham) holding up a lamp and smiling; just as she is about to speak, a bell rings and a boxing glove-clad hand zooms in from out of shot and knocks her out. Cut back to Wiggin]
Wiggin: And now for our most ambitious attempt tonight. All the way from Moscow, in the U.S.S. of R., Ivan the Terrible as a sales assistant in Freeman, Hardy and Willis!
[cut to a branch of said shoe sellers, with two customers sat in adjacent chairs, one looking suspiciously like a dummy; Ivan (John) screams and chops the dummy in half with a sword, to only the slightest reaction from the other customer, then bows to the camera. Cut back to Wiggin]
Wiggin: And now, W.G. Grace as a music box.
[cut to animated scene in which a hand reaches into a photo of Grace and pulls his nose, causing his hat to rotate while playing a music box tune; cut back to Wiggin]
Wiggin: And now it's France's turn! One of their top statesmen, Napoleon, as the R-101 disaster.
[cut to Napoleon (Terry Jones), suspended horizontally from wires and holding two propellers and a sign reading "R-101", grinning at the camera as "La Marseillaise" plays on the soundtrack; as soon as he is out of shot, there is a crashing sound and the camera shakes a bit. Cut back to Wiggin]
Wiggin: And now it's request time.
[cut to same Gumby as before]
Gumby: I'D LIKE TO SEE JOHN THE BAPTIST'S IMPERSONATION OF GRAHAM HILL!
[cut to John the Baptist's head on a salver, sporting a fake moustache similar to Hill's; the salver is pulled out of shot by wires as noises of a race car engine play on the soundtrack; cut to Women's Institute applauding]
- Wiggin then introduces a short interlude in which French mime Marcel Marceau (Graham) pretends to walk against the wind, then pretends to be getting hit by a 16-ton weight - not that he has to pretend for long, as the real thing falls on him after a few seconds. Cut to an interviewer (John) asking two schoolboys (Michael and Eric, on their knees to look even shorter next to John) if they'd like to have 16-ton weights dropped on their heads (Eric doesn't know, Michael says he'd rather have Raquel Welch dropped on his head). The interviewer then talks to two city gents (Graham and Michael) about what they'd most like to see on television... using the exact same gentle, almost whispering tone he used to talk to the schoolboys.
- The city gents would like to see more fairy stories about the police, and a fairy godmother (Eric) grants their wish, with a sequence in which a policeman on his bicycle produces an inflatable burglar, blows him up with his bicycle pump, and then races after him in pixilated motion with three other policeman whom he summons out of thin air by blowing a whistle. The burglar lures the policemen into a large packing crate and nails them inside... only to be foiled by another policeman in a fairy tutu and carrying a magic wand, the latter of which he waves to make the burglar vanish. The whole sequence ranks as one of the Pythons' funnier forays into silent comedy.
- The whole idea of policemen using magic to fight crime is investigated by Panorama-like series "A Probe Around" - but not before the presenter (John) is shot dead and kicked out of his chair by a jealous colleague (Eric) who says he's the one who usually introduces the programme.
- The Strongly Worded Letter returns, and apparently one of the letter writers is psychic:Voiceover (Eric): [reading letter] Dear Sir, I object very strongly to that last scene, and to the next letter.
Voiceover (Michael): [reading letter] Dear Sir, I object to being objected to in the last letter, before my drift has become apparent. I spent many years in India during the last war and am now a part-time notice board in a prominent public school. Yours etc., Brigadier Zoe La Rue (deceased). P.S. Aghhh!
Voiceover (John): [reading letter] Dear Sir, When I was at school, I was beaten regularly every 30 minutes and it never did me any harm - except for psychological maladjustment and blurred vision. Yours truly, Flight Lt. Ken Frankenstein (Mrs).
- The random, persistent appearances of bit characters in the entire episode, starting with the ever-increasing line of similar-looking delivery men, and ending with the Minister of Silly Walks himself just casually walking through the insanity of the Piranha Gang sketch on his way to work.
- The "New Cooker Sketch" starts with a spoof Epic Movie title card, with music to match, as two deliverymen (Michael and Graham) bring a gas cooker to Mrs G Pinnet (Terry Jones) of 46 Egernon Road... except the invoice is for a Mrs G Crump at the same address. She finally persuades them to drop off the cooker by signing her name "Mrs G Crump-Pinnet", but persuading them to actually hook up the cooker leads to a convoluted labyrinth of forms and special cases, each twist introduced by a new gas man (first John, then Eric, then Terry Gilliam, then assorted extras), until finally a long line of gas men in matching sheepskin coats, flat caps, and glasses appears at her door, stretching down the road and around the corner...
- John Cleese's silly walks, a sublime example of Mundane Made Funny - human action doesn't get much simpler than walking, but in the hands of the Pythons, it's transformed into something hysterical. Though the premise for the sketch is somewhat thin, it's the bizarre contortions into which John folds himself - contortions that only work with someone as tall as John - that really make it work.
- The Piranha Brothers, a spoof of notorious East End gangsters the Kray Brothers.
- An interviewer (Terry Jones) asks the Piranha Brothers' former English teacher Anthony Viney (Graham) what he remembers about them. Throughout the interview, the microphone is consistently pointing to the wrong person (even when Viney asks the interviewer to repeat his question and the interviewer obliges), so that all we have to go on concerning how violent Doug and Dinsdale were at school are Mr Viney's gestures of throat slitting and disembowelling (complete with miming intestines falling out through the opening) and the interviewer's queasy reaction.
- The interviews with their head-nailing-to-floor victims Stig O'Tracy and Vince Snetterton-Lewis. Graham Chapman does a priceless delivery of "And Dinsdale said, 'I hear you've been a naughty boy Clement.' And he splits me nostrils open and saws me leg off and pulls me liver out, and I said, 'My name's not Clement!' And, er, then he loses his temper and nails my head to the floor."
- Even Palin's resident gangster character Luigi Vercotti once went up against the Pirahna Brothers. He's scared to death of Doug, and notes even Dinsdale was afraid of him as well. Doug's ultimate tool: sarcasm.Palin: [increasingly breaking down] Everyone was terrified of Doug. I've seen grown men pull their heads off rather than see Doug. Even Dinsdale was frightened of Doug. ["What did he do?"] He used sarcasm. He knew all the tricks: dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes, and... satire.
Episode 15: The Spanish Inquisition
- Blimey, I didn't expect a Spanish Inquisition! "NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!" And them constantly messing up. And The Comfy Chair!
- The Gumbies generally were made of this trope. "I THINK WE SHOULD PUT A TAX ON ALL PEOPLE WHO STAND IN WATER." [realizes that he's standing in water] "OH!"
Episode 16: Deja Vu (or: Show 5)
- The moment when Graham Chapman "improvises" his telephone hangup in the Flying Lesson sketch, as well as his disgusted reaction to the idea that his client wants to fly in an aeroplane rather than simply jumping off a table to fly."'Oh, oh, no more buttered scones for me, mater. I'm off to play the grahnd piahno'. 'Pardon me while I fly my aeyroplane.' NOW GET ON THE TABLE!"
- The "Deja Vu" sketch. Particularly when the It's The Mind host, after rushing out of the studio only to mysteriously appear back inside, screams at the camera and rushes out again.
Episode 17: The Buzz Aldrin Show (or: An Apology)
- All of the Pythons (except Terry Gilliam) appear dressed as Gumbys in a recurring role as in-universe continuity announcers. You can probably guess how well that goes...
- First, they introduce the first sketch, in their own inimitable style...Voiceover: The BBC would like to apologise for the next announcement.
Gumbys: [in unison] HELLO! AND WELCOME TO THE SHOW! WITHOUT MORE ADO, THE FIRST ITEM IS A SKETCH ABOUT... ARCHITECTS! CALLED... "THE ARCHITECT SKETCH"! [Beat] "THE ARCHITECT SKETCH"! [Beat] "THE ARCHITECT SKETCH"! [they point to an upper floor window in the building behind them] "THE ARCHITECT SKETCH"! UP THERE! UP THERE! UP THERE! [they dissolve into shouting over each other]
- The Gumbys' bellowing continues throughout the beginning of the actual Architect Sketch as Mr Tid (Graham) explains to two investors (Terry Jones and Michael) that they have two competing plans for the tower block they are hoping to build. After the Gumbys' shouting de-rails his speech a few times, Mr Tid yells "SHUT UP!" out of the window, which silences the Gumbys... for about five seconds, after which Mr Tid opens the window, grabs a bucket of water, and hurls its contents through the window.
- The rest of the Architect Sketch is just as funny, as the first architect, Mr Wiggin (John), is more used to designing abattoirs and hasn't thought that the residents of a block of flats don't want to be shredded by rotating knives... and yet is convinced his plan has been rejected because he's not a Freemason. The second architect, Mr Leavey (Eric), has a model which collapses and then catches fire, but the two investors award him the contract anyway... because he is a Freemason, and so are they.note Wiggin: [to the audience as Leavey and the investors engage in a parody Masonic handshake] It opens doors, I'm telling you.
- First, they introduce the first sketch, in their own inimitable style...
- The Gumbys further introduce the Insurance Sketch, which leads into... THE BISHOP! "With 'R.F. Gromsby-Urquhart Wright' as the Voice of God"The Bishop: [after failing to stop yet another clergyman from meeting a premature end] We was too late!
- At one point in "The Bishop", the titular bishop and his men arrive just a little too late to a funeral, simply look out the top of their limo, shake their heads, then pull back in and drive away.
- The last scene of "The Bishop" is the bishop and his men busting into the insurance offices to help the vicar from the Insurance sketch. The title sequence then proceeds to repeat itself, and gets almost 90% of the way through before the couple watching proceeds to leave the theater where "The Bishop" is playing.
- The Gumbys also introduce the Chemist sketch, which is interrupted by a speech from the censor and followed by the Less Naughty Chemist Sketch:Chemist: Right, I've got some of your prescriptions here. Er... [looks at bottle] who's got the pox? [customers look embarrassed] Come on, who's got the pox?... Come ON! [one customer looks at the floor and raises his hand; the other customers recoil from him] Catch! [throws customer his prescription] Who's got... [looks at bottle] a boil on the bum? Boil on the botty? [throws prescription to second customer] Who's got the chest rash? [female customer raises her hand] Have to get a bigger bottle. Who's got... [looks at fourth bottle] who's got wind? [the other customers back away from the only one not to have raised his hand] Catch! [throws customer the bottle]
[cut to screen reading "THE CHEMIST SKETCH - AN APOLOGY!"]
Announcer: The BBC would like to apologise for the poor quality of the writing in that sketch. It is not BBC policy to get easy laughs with words like "bum", "knickers", "botty", or "wee-wees". [audience laughter] SHH!
[cut to presenter in front of screen]
Presenter: These are the words which are not to be used again on this programme! [clicks through the words B*M - B*TTY - P*X - KN*CKERS - KN*CKERS - W**-W** - SEMPRINI]
Young Woman: [walks on, confused] "Semprini"??
Presenter: OUT! [points off camera]
[cut back to chemist's; the chemist exits the back room with another bottle]
Chemist: Right, who's got a boil on his semprini, then? [a policeman exits the back room and hauls him away]
[cut to "A LESS NAUGHTY CHEMIST'S", complete with a sign on the wall and a sign around the chemist's neck advertising this]
Customer: [enters] Good morning.
Chemist: Good morning, sir.
Customer: Morning. I'd like some after shave, please.
Chemist: Certainly, sir. Walk This Way, please.
Customer: If I could walk that way, I wouldn't need after shave. [the chemist makes a "Watch it!" gesture to the customer; the constable appears again and carts him off]
- During the Not At All Naughty Chemist's Sketch...Customer: [handed a cue card] Oh! "I wonder what other people use for aftershave lotion?"
[begin vox pops film]
First Gumby: I USE A BODY RUB CALLED "HALITOSIS"! IT MAKES MY BREATH SEEM SWEET!
Second Gumby: I USE AN AFTERSHAVE CALLED "SEMPRINI"! [is carted off by a policeman]
Chemist: [rushing past] Sorry, sorry, can't stop now, I've gotta get to Kensington.
Cardinal Ximinez: I use two kinds of aftershave lotion - frankincense, myrrh— three kinds of aftershave lotion - frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood— four kinds of aftershave lotion - frankincense...
Man: I have a cold shower every morning just before I go mad, and then I go mad, one. Mad, two. Mad, three. Mad, four...
Shabby: I use Rancid Polecat Number Two. It keeps my skin nice and scaly.
- Finally, at the end of the episode, we get this:Gumbys: AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! [jump cut to five female Gumbys, giggling; jump cut back to the five male Gumbys] OOH! THAT WAS FUN! AND NOW... [cut to "THE END" screen] THE END!... THE END!... THE END!... THE END!... [fade to black]
Episode 18: Live from the Grill-O-Mat
- The "Blackmail" sketch on its own is nothing special writing-wise, but something about the voice Michael Palin uses for the Smarmy Host character just so completely sells it that you're hard-pressed not to laugh.
- The Royal Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things is a masterclass on how to base a sketch on an utterly absurd idea and cut it off before it wears out its welcome; said cutting off and the deconstruction of Video Inside, Film Outside that follows when the society's president (Graham) discovers that the meeting room is "surrounded by film" provide the sketch's best moments.Toastmaster: Gentlemen, pray silence for the President of the Royal Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things.
Sir William: [rising to applause from other members] I thank you, gentlemen. The year has been a good one for the Society. [other members mutter "Hear, hear!"] This year our members have put more things on top of other things than ever before. [more murmurs of "Hear, hear!"] But, I should warn you, this is no time for complacency. No, there are still many things, and I cannot emphasise this too strongly, not on top of other things. I myself, on my way here this evening, saw a thing that was not on top of another thing in any way! [cries of "Shame! Shame!" from other members] Shame indeed, but... we must not allow ourselves to become too despondent. For... we must never forget that if there was not one thing that was not on top of another thing, our society would be nothing more than a meaningless body of men that gather together for no good purpose. [applause] But we flourish. This year our Australasian members and the various organisations affiliated to our Australasian branches put no fewer than twenty-two things on top of other things! [more applause] Well done all of you. [murmurs of "Hear, hear!"] But there is one cloud on the horizon. In this last year, our Staffordshire branch has not succeeded in putting one thing on top of another. [cries of "Shame! Shame!"] Therefore I call upon our Staffordshire delegate to explain this weird behaviour.
[Sir William sits down; the Staffordshire delegate (John) stands up sheepishly]
Mr Cutler: Er, Cutler, Staffordshire. Erm... well, Mr Chairman, it's just that most of the... members in Staffordshire feel... the whole thing's a bit silly.
Other Members: Silly?!
Sir William: [stands up in outrage] Silly!? [Beat] I suppose it is, a bit. What have we been doing wasting our lives with all this nonsense? [murmurs of "Hear, hear!"] Right, okay, meeting adjourned forever!
[more murmurs of "Hear, hear!" and applause as Sir William gets up and walks through a door at the side of the room while putting his pipe in his mouth. Cut to film for an exterior shot of Sir William opening the door, taking in the fresh air, until he notices something has changed...]
Sir William: [stunned] Good Lord. I'm on film. How did that happen?
[he hurries back through the door and re-appears on the studio set, on video again, crosses the set, and opens a door on the other side. Cut back to film for an exterior shot of Sir William opening the door]
Sir William: It's film again. What's going on?
[he hurries back inside; cut back to the studio set, on video once more, as Sir William runs to the window, opens it, and looks out; cut to film again for an exterior shot of Sir William leaning through the window. He leans inside again, and we switch back to video]
Sir William: Gentlemen! I have bad news. This room is surrounded by film!
- The Butcher Shop sketch. Eric Idle and Michael Palin are wonderful! Also a great collection of creative British insults.
- The Boxer Documentary sketch.
- The opening Bait-and-Switch sets the tone (and establishes a Running Gag of the boxer, Ken Clean Air System, going back to bed every few hours):"Every morning, Ken wakes up at 3 o'clock...and then goes back to bed again because it's far too early."
- One of Ken's opponents is a girl, who sits in a typically girlish room and says that Ken is going to have difficulties against her because she's a southpaw (left-handed). Unfortunately, Slapstick Knows No Gender is in effect, and Ken whallops her with a series of punches she doesn't even attempt to dodge or block.
- The opening Bait-and-Switch sets the tone (and establishes a Running Gag of the boxer, Ken Clean Air System, going back to bed every few hours):
Episode 19: It's a Living (or: School Prizes)
- During one of their many fake BBC continuity links, with Palin and Jones as announcers:Palin: Well, it's five past 9, and nearly time for six past 9. On BBC2 now it'll shortly be six-and-a-half minutes past 9. Later on this evening it will be 10:00, and at 10:30 we'll be joining BBC2 in time for 10:33. And don't forget tomorrow, when it'll be 9:20. Those of you who missed 8:45 on Friday will be able to see it again this Friday at a quarter to 9. Now, here is a time check: It's six-and-a-half minutes to the big green thing.
Jones: You're a loony.
Palin: I get so bored, I get so bloody bored!
- Any time Raymond Luxury Yacht appears. This episode sees his debut, and after he tells the interviewer his name is pronounced "Throat Warbler Mangrove", the interviewer has this to say:Interviewer: You're a very silly man and I'm not going to interview you.
- "Election Night Special". A parody of the 1970s elections in Britain, the sketch primarily details election fights of the Sensible Party versus the Silly Party. The Sensible Party candidates look like normal politicians with suits and jackets, while the Silly Party candidates often look like they're wearing clown suits or other ridiculous things, and the commentators are no slouch, either.
- The first showdown is Leicester, where the candidates are Arthur J. Smith (Sensible) and Jethro Q. Walrustitty (Silly). Walrustitty wins with a majority of nearly 1,500, prompting the following analysis:Norman (Michael): Well, this is largely as I predicted, except that the Silly Party won. I think this is largely due to the number of votes cast. Gerald?
Gerald (Eric): [standing by a swing-o-meter] Well, there's a swing here to the Silly Party, but how big a swing, I'm not going to tell you.
George (Terry Jones): [standing by a different swing-o-meter] Well, if I may, I think the interesting thing here is the big swing to the Silly Party [moves the pointer to the left] and of course the very large swing back to the Sensible Party [moves the pointer back to the right] and a tendency to wobble up and down in the middle [moves the pointer back to the middle] because the, er, screw's loose. [gives it a big shove, causing it to swing in several complete circles]
Alphonse (Graham): [intense expression] ... no, I'm afraid I can't think of anything!
Eric (Terry Gilliam): [hanging up phone] No, I can't add anything to that! Colin?
Colin (Ian Davidson): Can I just butt in at this point and say this is, in fact, the very first time I've ever appeared on television?
Linkman (John): No, no, we haven't time, because we're going straight over to Luton!
- The Luton election has Alan Jones (Sensible), Tarquin Fim-tim-lim-bim-wim-bim-lim-bus-stop-ftang-ftang-ole-biscuitbarrel (Silly), and Kevin Phillips-Bong (Slightly Silly). Phillips-Bong doesn't get a single vote, and the Silly Party win by nearly 3,500 votes.Colin: [holding a phone receiver] Can I just add at this point that this is, in fact, the second time I've ever appeared on television? [mugs for the camera, but it cuts away immediately]
- The third showdown in Harpenden has Mr. Elsie Zzzzzzzzzzzzzip (Silly), James Walker (Sensible), and Malcom Peter Brian Telescope Adrian Umbrella-stand Jasper Wednesday [pop-pop] Stoat-gobbler John Raw Vegetable [whinny] Arthur Norman Michael [squeaker] Featherstone Smith [whistle] Northgott Edward Harris [gunshot, whoop] Mason [chuff-chuff-chuff-chuff] Frampton Jones Fruitbat Gilbert [singing] "We'll keep a welcome in the" [three gun shots] Williams "If I Could Walk That Way" Jenkins [noisemaker] Tiger-drawers Pratt Thompson [singing] "Raindrops keep fallin' on my head" Darcy Carter [horn] Pussycat [singing] "Don't sleep in the subway" Barton Mannering [horn] Smith (Very Silly). Walker of the Sensible Party wins by one vote because the Very Silly candidate split the Silly vote by gaining 2.Colin: Can I just butt in here and say that it's probably the last time I shall ever appear on television? [mugs for the camera again, but it cuts away immediately again]
- Among other results...
- The first showdown is Leicester, where the candidates are Arthur J. Smith (Sensible) and Jethro Q. Walrustitty (Silly). Walrustitty wins with a majority of nearly 1,500, prompting the following analysis:
Episode 20: The Attila the Hun Show
- The "Spot the Braincell" sketch from "The Attila the Hun Show" is a savage parody of the then-recently cancelled Take Your Pick which starts with John Cleese skewering the unctuous demeanour of the programme's actual host, Michael Miles, and gets funnier from there.
- A pepperpot played by Terry Jones plays for her desired prize: a blow on the head.Michael Miles: Your first question for the blow on the head this evening is: what great opponent of Cartesian dualism resists the reduction of psychological phenomena to physical states? [as he reads the question, the pepperpot stops fidgeting, her smile fades, and her shoulders sag]
Pepperpot: I DON'T KNOW THAT!!
Michael Miles: Well, have a guess.
Pepperpot: Oh. Er... Henri Bergson.
Michael Miles: Is the correct answer!
Pepperpot: Oh, that was lucky, I never even heard of him.
Michael Miles: Jolly good!
Pepperpot: I don't like darkies!
Michael Miles: [long forced laugh] Who does?? [another long forced laugh]
- Meanwhile, Graham Chapman sneaks into the background as a "sexy" show hostess with a gong, proceeds to Show Some Leg, and once the pepperpot gets her star prize - a BLOW on the HEAD whump - hits the gong. Whereupon a mob of Anglican priests jump him.
- A pepperpot played by Terry Jones plays for her desired prize: a blow on the head.
Episode 21: Archaeology Today
- It seems sports personalities and televised sport commentators are branching out a bit, judging from the opening announcement of Eric Idle's continuity announcer:note Announcer: Here is a preview of some of the programmes you'll be able to see coming shortly on BBC Television. To kick off with, there's variety. Peter West and Brian Johnston [picture of West and Johnston] star in Rain Stopped Play, a wacky new comedy series about the gay exploits of two television cricket commentators. With E.W. Swanton [picture of Swanton] as Aggie, the kooky Scots maid. For those of you who don't like variety, there's variety, with Brian Close [stock picture of Close playing cricket with background replaced by a theatre curtain] as the Talk of the Town. And of course, there'll be sport.
The Classics series [title card for "THE CLASSICS"] returns to BBC2 with 26 episodes of John Galsworthy's Snooker My Way. With Nyree Dawn Porter repeating her triumph as Joe Davis. [mockup of Porter standing by a billiard table] And of course, there'll be sport.
Comedy is not forgotten with Jim Laker [picture of Laker] in thirteen weeks of off-spin bowling. Jim plays the zany bachelor bowler in a new series of 'Owzat! With Anneli Drummond-Hay on Mister Softee [picture of said duo] as his wife. And of course, there'll be sport.
Panorama will be returning, introduced as usual by Tony Jacklin [picture of Jacklin playing golf with the background replaced by the Panorama title], and Lulu [picture of same] will be tackling the Old Man of Hoy. [picture of said rock formation against a blank background] And for those of you who prefer drama, there's sport.
The show of the week: Kenneth Wolstenholme sings [picture of Wolstenholme against a background of dancing girls], and for those of you who don't like television, there's David Coleman. [picture of Coleman] And of course, there'll be sport.
But now for something completely different: sport! [the first few notes of the Grandstand theme begin playing, but are interrupted by "The Liberty Bell March"]
- "An appeal on behalf of the National Truss" doesn't quite go as planned when the frontwoman for the appeal (Eric Idle) can't remember her name.note Frontwoman: Good evening. My name is Leapy Lee. [frowns] No, sorry, that's the name of me favourite singer. [smiles] My name is Mrs. Fred Stolle. [frowns again] No no, Mrs. Fred Stolle is the wife of me favourite tennis player. [smiles again] My name is Bananas- no, no, that's me favourite fruit. I'm Mrs. A Nice Evening Out at the Pictures Then Perhaps a Dance at a Club Then Back to His Place for a Quick Cup of Coffee and a Little Bit of- no! No, sorry... that's me favourite way of spending a night out. [thinks] Perhaps I am Leapy Lee. Yes, I must be Leapy Lee! Hello fans, Leapy Lee here! [sings] "Little arrows that will ke-" [phone rings; she answers] Hello? [to camera] Evidently I'm not Leapy Lee. Thought I probably wouldn't be. [into phone] Thank you, I'll tell them. [hangs up] Hello, Denis Compton here- no no, no no, I should have written it down. [looks in her handbag] Now where's that number? I'm Mao Tse-tung, I'm P.P. Arnold, I'm Margaret Thatcher, I'm Sir Gerald Nabarro... [picks up phone and dials the operator] Hello? Sir Len Hutton here. Could you tell me please- oh, am I? Oh, thank you! [hangs up and smiles to camera] Good evening. I'm Mrs. What Number Are You Dialing Please. [a boxer jumps into frame and knocks her out with one punch; cut to stock footage of Women's Institute applauding]
- More than a few Python sketches are self-aware about having good ideas that can't be resolved in a satisfactory way, and so they simply stop abruptly before they have a chance to lose steam. This episode features two such sketches in a row:
- First, there is the bridegroom (Eric) who thinks he can exchange his bride for a better model as if he were exchanging a record player, but the Registrar of Marriages (Terry Jones) is having none of it:Bridegroom: Good morning.
Bridegroom: Are you the registrar?
Registrar: I have that function.
Bridegroom: Er, well, I was here on Saturday, getting married to a blond girl, and I'd like to change, please. I'd like to have this one instead, please.
Registrar: What do you mean?
Bridegroom: Er, well, the other one wasn't any good, so I'd like to swap it for this one, please. I have paid. I paid on Saturday. Here's the ticket. [gives him the marriage licence]
Registrar: Ah, er, no. That was when you were married.
Bridegroom: Er, yes. That was when I was married to the wrong one. I didn't like the colour. Er, this is the one I want to have, so if you could just change the forms round I can take this one back with me now.
Registrar: I can't do that!
Bridegroom: Look, make it simpler, I'll pay again.
Registrar: No, you can't do that.
Bridegroom: Look, all I want you to do is change the wife, say the words, blah blah blah, back to my place, no questions asked.
Registrar: I'm sorry sir, but we're not allowed to change.
Bridegroom: You can at Harrods.
Registrar: You can't.
Bridegroom: You can. I changed my record player and there wasn't a grumble!
Registrar: It's different!
Bridegroom: And I changed my pet snake, [pounds desk] and I changed my Robin Day tie!
Registrar: Well, you can't change a bloody wife!
Bridegroom: Oh, all right! [thinks] Well, can I borrow one for the weekend?
Bridegroom: Oh, blimey, I only wanted a jolly good...
[a whistle blows; the registrar points at the bridegroom as if to say "He started it!" as a referee (John) runs on and takes his book out]
Referee: All right, break it up. What's your number, then? [spins bridegroom around to reveal a number 8 on the back of his blazer] All right. Name?
- As the referee books the offending sketch performer, we cut to a doctor (Michael) and a patient (Graham); the doctor shrugs impatiently, and he and the patient both look at their watches. We cut back to the referee, who has finished booking the bridegroom and blows his whistle to start the next sketch - which is cut off even sooner:[as the whistle is blown, the patient sticks a pipe in his mouth and the doctor makes an exaggerated show of being ready to start taking down patient information]
Doctor: Next please. Name?
Watson: Er, Watson.
Doctor: [writing] Mr Watson.
Watson: Er, no, Doctor.
Doctor: [changing his notes] Ah, Mr Doctor.
Watson: No, not Mr, Doctor.
Doctor: [changing his notes again] Oh, Doctor Doctor.
Watson: No, Doctor Watson.
Doctor: [changing his notes yet again] Oh, Doctor Watson Doctor.
Watson: [sighs] Oh, just call me darling.
Doctor: [smiles] Hello, Mr Darling.
Watson: [impatient] No, Doctor!
Doctor: Hello Doctor Darling!
[off-screen, the referee blows his whistle again]
Caption: THAT SKETCH HAS BEEN ABANDONED
- First, there is the bridegroom (Eric) who thinks he can exchange his bride for a better model as if he were exchanging a record player, but the Registrar of Marriages (Terry Jones) is having none of it:
- One of the more off-the-wall Gilliam sketches appears here: a group of gangsters run by a chicken. Aside from an appearance from Spiny Norman, there's also this:Victorian commentator: With the Chicken Gang around, a man's life wasn't worth the paper it was printed on. Already there have been murders committed here and here, and the latest one right here.[gunshot, hole appears in map, Muggsy peeks out from behind]Muggsy: He's right, you know.[dies]
Episode 22: How to Recognise Different Parts of the Body
- A bunch of women in bikinis, and now for something completely different: John Cleese in a bikini.
- The recurring "How to Identify Parts of the Body" inserts, especially the parts about "naughty bits".
- Norman St. John Polevaulter, the man who contradicts people. Not so much the interview itself (which proceeds in a predictable fashion), but the way John Cleese (who is fondly holding a small pig) cuts it off after thirty seconds with, "And so on, and so on, and so on."
- The military entertain us with a display of precision bad temper, followed by a display of close-order swanning about.Presenter with Hook Hand: But now the men of the Derbyshire Light Infantry entertain us with a precision display of bad temper.
[cut to eight solders in two ranks of four, standing at ease]
Sergeant: [off-screen] Atten... SHUN! [the soldiers snap to attention]
Soldiers: [shouting in unison] My goodness me, I am in a bad temper today all right, two, three, damn, damn, two, three, I am vexed and ratty, [shaking fists] two, three, and hopping mad. [they stamp their feet twice while gesturing with their fists]
Presenter with Hook Hand: And next, the men of the Second Armoured Division regale us with their famous close-order swanning about.
[cut to sergeant with eight different soldiers standing at ease]
Sergeant: [shouting] SQUAD... Camp it... up! [the soldiers snap to attention]
Soldiers: [chanting in unison whilst mincing] Oooh! Get her! Whoops! I've got your number ducky. You couldn't afford me, dear, two, three. [making scratching gesture while executing right dress] I'd scratch your eyes out. [kicking chorus line style] Don't come the brigadier bit with us, dear, we all know where you've been, you military fairy. [on "military", they salute; on "fairy", they adopt a ballet pose; they then turn about and mince toward the back wall, then turn left and continue mincing] Whoops! Don't look now, girls, the major's just minced in with that dolly colour sergeant, two, three, ooh-ho! [they turn left, bring their fingers to their chins camply, then stand at ease]
- One of the few sketches to get a sequel: the Batley Townswomen's Guild return to present their re-enactment of the first heart transplant. Which is identical to their re-enactment of the Battle of Pearl Harbor, except now they are bashing each other with handbags on the seafront instead of in a muddy field.
- Exploding penguins and... BURMA!!!
Episode 23: Scott of the Antarctic
- The episode opens with a savage parody of Le Film Artistique, Jean Kenneth Longueur's Le Fromage Grand. The two scenes we see both involve Terry Jones and Carol Cleveland as "Brian Distel and Brianette Zatapathique"; they are both shot near a very large rubbish dump swarming with seagulls, as Carol/Brianette sits in a chair wearing a wig that reaches almost to the ground and holding first a cabbage, then a Webb's Wonderful lettuce. The dialogue throughout is awkwardly written and equally awkwardly delivered (especially Terry/Brian as Stig's unexpected line in the first scene about being a revolutionary) and even more awkwardly staged as the boom mike keeps dipping into shot, while the second scene keeps cutting away to black and white stock footage of war, rioting, and destruction, as well as John hitting Michael over the head with a flail before turning to the camera and grinning, Graham having a grand piano lid slam shut on his hands, a chef played by Terry getting hit by an arrow, Carol kicking John in the shin, Graham being punched by an offscreen boxer, a nun delivering a Groin Attack to a policeman, Graham stomping on Terry's foot, Eric wearing a false moustache and poking John in the eye with an umbrella and then being doused with a bucket of water, and an Orthodox bishop sneaking up behind Eric to stab him in the chest, before the lettuce starts ticking and finally explodes.
- The "Scott of the Sahara" sketch:
- The seafront at Paignton in Devon (a favourite shooting location of the Pythons) is to double as the Antarctic for a film about Captain Robert Scott's ill-fated polar expedition. The film's producer, slick American Gerry Schlick (Eric), insists that the white foam rubber and gallons of white paint they are using will result in something that, on camera, will look more like snow than if they were to use actual snow. The results indicate otherwise...
- The film's manic, alcoholic Scottish director, James McRettin (John), a parody of Joseph McGrath (with whom Graham and John had worked on The Magic Christian), speaks at top speed and changes his mind about everything depending on what the last suggestion was ("Lose the lion! Great!... Keep the lion! Great!...") before finally falling over in a drunken stupor.
- Leading lady Vanilla Hoare (Carol Cleveland, playing the character of Miss Evans, added for the film) is significantly shorter than leading man Kirk Vilb (Michael) and the actor playing Oates, Terence Lemming (Terry Jones), and yet she stands in a trench while the two men stand on boxes. She also can't remember the line "Good morning, Captain Scott" and asks if she can instead say "Hi, Scottie!"... and then she can't remember that either unless she says it in a silly, high-pitched shriek while flailing her arms wildly. When Schlick tries to persuade them to get rid of the trench and the boxes, Vanilla Hoare snaps and declares that she always acts in trenches, rattling off a list of previous roles she has thus performed... including the wives of John the Baptist and Jesus.
- BBC correspondent Chris Conger (Graham) sees a problem with the scene where Scott gets off the boat onto an ice floe and fights a lion: there aren't any lions in the Antarctic. Kirk Vilb's apoplectic reaction to Schlick's decision to cut the lion is hilarious:Schlick: Now, this afternoon, we're gonna shoot the scene where Scott gets off the boat, onto the ice floe, and he sees the lion, and he fights it, and he kills it, and the blood goes [mimes blood spurt] PSHHH in slow motion.
Conger: But- but there aren't any lions in the Antarctic.
Conger: There aren't any lions in the Antarctic.
Schlick: ... you're right! There are no lions in the Antartic [sic]! That's ridiculous! Whoever heard of a lion in the Antartic? Right! Lose the lion!
McRettin: [drunk yet excited] Gotta keep the lion, it's great!
Schlick: Lose the lion!
McRettin: [no less excited] GREAT! We're losing the lion! Re-write! Lose the lion, everyone! That's fantastic...
Vilb: [marches over to Schlick] Hey, what's this about, ah, losing the lion?
Schlick: Uh, well, Kirk, we- we thought perhaps we might, uh, lose the fight with the lion a little bit, Kirk, angel.
Vilb: ... WHY!?
Schlick: Uh, well, Kirkie doll, there are no lions in the Antartic, baby.
Vilb: I GET TO FIGHT THE LION!
Schlick: It'll be silly!
Vilb: LISTEN! I GOTTA FIGHT THE LION! THAT'S WHAT THAT GUY SCOTT'S ALL ABOUT! I KNOW, I STUDIED HIM ALREADY!
Schlick: But why couldn't you fight a penguin?
McRettin: Great! [punches the air, loses his balance, and falls to the ground]
Vilb: Fight a rotten little penguin?
Schlick: It needn't be a little penguin, it can be the biggest penguin you've ever seen! An electric penguin! Twenty feet high! With long green tentacles that... sting people! [he prods Conger in the chest; Conger flinches] And you can... stab it in the wings, and the blood can go spurting [mimes blood spurt] PSHHH in slow motion!
Vilb: The lion is in the contract!
Schlick: [defeated] He fights the lion. [Vilb leaves, McRettin runs over]
McRettin: Even better! Great! Have a drink. [holds his bottle of booze toward Schlick and Conger] Lose the penguin! Stand by to shoot! [falls over drunk again]
- Conger explains that lions are found in Africa, so Schlick changes the setting to the Sahara, with Scott now looking for a pole no-one else knows about. The fact that the shots still prominently feature the sea in the background belies any notion that they are in the world's largest desert and not on the Devon coast. Given that the company's previous films include the very unglamorous-sounding Lawrence of Glamorgan, Bridge on the River Trent, The Madwoman of Biggleswade, and Krakatoa, East of Leamington,note one wonders why they didn't call the film Scott of Paignton.
- Scott's fight with the lion begins with stock footage of a lion jumping, proceeds to him beating the stuffing out of a lifeless dummy, and suddenly turns into a boxing match with a man in a tatty lion suit (who somehow acquires a chair to smash over Scott's back, allowing them to stage a mock knife fight with the broken legs). When he is finally defeated, the lion suddenly spurts a jet of blood from the middle of his chest that looks like someone switched on a lawn sprinkler.
- Oates fights the electric penguin "twenty feet high, with long green tentacles that sting people"... the effects for which are achieved with an obvious reverse angle forced perspective shot using a model penguin twelve inches tall. When he finally defeats the penguin using a David vs. Goliath-esque stone launched from a slingshot (for which he uses his underpants), the model simply topples over backwards.
- Miss Evans' wildlife fight pits her against a man-eating rolltop writing desk, achieved by putting a giant set of teeth in the top part of the desk and a man in the bottom to manoeuvre it. She doesn't so much fight it as run screaming from it, deliberately running past a number of widely separated cacti (requiring her to run in a very awkward arc) so that her clothing can get caught on them and get torn off. By the time she loses her brassiere (seen only from behind), she has passed the announcer at his desk; he hangs up his phone and intones, "And now for something completely different." Cue the "It's" man, the "Liberty Bell" March, and the opening titles, nearly twenty minutes in!
- The episode's final sketch is a spoof sport programme, which concludes with footage from the Cup semi-final between the Bournemouth Gynaecologists and the Watford Long John Silver Impersonators. The former are doctors in long white coats, the latter are dressed in costumes with long beards, tricorn hats, peg legs, and parrots... and simply stand around muttering "Aaargh, Jim lad!" as the gynaecologists score goal after goal after goal. One wonders how they reached the semi-final to begin with...
Episode 24: How Not to Be Seen
- The Conquistador Coffee Campaign and its hilariously unexpected Running Gags.
- After advertising copywriter Frog enters his boss' office through the window and sits there for about five seconds before his boss acknowledges him, he then keeps trying unsuccessfully to correct his chosen term of address:Manager: Ah, Frog.
Frog: [smiles] S. Frog, sir-
Manager: Shut up. [Frog's smile fades] I want to have a word with you, Frog.
Frog: [smiles] S. Frog, sir-
Manager: Shut up. [Frog's smile fades]
- The manager giving the camera a cheesy grin and holding up a sign reading "JOKE" each time he makes a joke; at one point, Frog changes his mind about his campaign being a joke and holds up a second sign reading "No, a sales campaign".
- Frog gets out of punishment by telling his boss, "Sorry, Father. [holds up "JOKE" sign]" His boss then tells him his film has won a prize. Cut to a clifftop, Felix Mendelssohn's "Hebrides" Overture playing on the soundtrack... until the gramophone on which it is playing gets stuck. The Announcer lifts the needle, apologises, and says, "And now for something completely di-completely di-completely di-completely di-completely di-completely different." Cue the "It's" man and the opening credits... which also get stuck about fifteen seconds in.
- After advertising copywriter Frog enters his boss' office through the window and sits there for about five seconds before his boss acknowledges him, he then keeps trying unsuccessfully to correct his chosen term of address:
- The Agatha Christie spoof that devolves into obsessive nitpicking about railway timetables is funny enough on its own, but John Cleese's typically manic/maniacal performance as drama critic Gavin Millarrrrrrrrrnote is the icing on the cake:Gavin Millarrrrrrrrr: Some people have made the mistake of seeing Shunt's work as a load of rubbish about railway timetables, but clever people like me, who talk loudly in restaurants, see this as a deliberate ambiguity, a plea for understanding in a mechanised world. The points are frozen, the beast is dead. What is the difference? What indeed is the point? The point is frozen, the beast is late out of Paddington. The point is taken. If La Fontaine's elk would spurn Tom Jones the engine must be our head, the dining car our oesophagus, the guard's van our left lung, the cattle truck our shins, the first-class compartment the piece of skin at the nape of the neck, and the level crossing an electric elk called Simon. The clarity is devastating. But where is the ambiguity? It's over there in a box. Shunt is saying the 8.15 from Gillingham when in reality he means the 8.13 from Gillingham. The train is the same, only the time is altered. Ecce homo, ergo elk. La Fontaine knew his sister and knew her bloody well. The point is taken, the beast is moulting, the fluff gets up your nose. The illusion is complete. It is reality, the reality is illusion, and the ambiguity is the only truth. But is the truth, as Hitchcock observes, in the box? No, there isn't room, the ambiguity has put on weight. The point is taken, the elk is dead, the beast stops at Swindon, Chabrol stops at nothing, I'm having treatment, and La Fontaine can get knotted.
Presenter: Gavin Millar-
Second presenter: -rrrrrrrr...
Presenter: ... was not talking to Neville Shunt.
- How Not to Be Seen. The combination of Deadpan Snarker and Captain Obvious in the announcer (John) is utterly hilarious.Narrator: In this picture there are forty people. None of them can be seen. In this film we hope to show how not to be seen.
Caption: HM GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC SERVICE FILM NO. 42 PARA 6. 'HOW NOT TO BE SEEN'
Narrator: This is Mr E R Bradshaw, of Napier Court, Black Lion Road, SE5. He cannot be seen. Now, I'm going to ask him to stand up. Mr Bradshaw, will you stand up, please? [Mr Bradshaw, a man in braces and a collarless shirt with a hankie on his head, stands up; a shot rings out, and he falls down dead] This demonstrates the value of not being seen.
[cut to another expanse of scrubland] In this picture we cannot see Mrs B J Smegma of 13 The Crescent, Belmont. Mrs Smegma, will you stand up, please? [Mrs Smegma, a pepperpot, stands up near the edge of the frame; another shot rings out, and she falls back, dead]
[cut to a small shrub in the middle of an open area of ground] This is Mr Nesbitt of Harlow New Town. Mr Nesbitt, would you stand up, please? [Mr Nesbitt doesn't take the bait] Mr Nesbitt has learnt the first lesson of not being seen: not to stand up. However, he has chosen a very obvious piece of cover. [the bush explodes in a fireball]
[cut to three bushes in a line in the middle of a field] Mr E V Lambert of Homeleigh, The Burrows, Oswestry, has presented us with a poser. We do not know which bush he is behind, but we can soon find out. [the left bush explodes, then the right one, then the middle one]
Mr Lambert: WAAAGH!
Narrator: Yes - it was the middle one.
[cut to a patch of farmland; we see a water barrel, a low wall, a parked car, and assorted trees and bushes] Mr Ken Andrews, of Leighton Road, Slough, has concealed himself extremely well. He could be almost anywhere. He could be behind the wall, inside the water barrel, beneath a pile of leaves, up in the tree, squatting down behind the car, concealed in a hollow, or crouched behind any one of a hundred bushes. However, we happen to know... he's in the water barrel. [the water barrel explodes in spectacular fashion]
[cut to a row of seaside changing huts] Mr and Mrs Watson of Ivy Cottage, Worplesdon Road, Hull, chose a very cunning way of not being seen. When we called at their house, we found that they had gone away on two weeks' holiday. They had not left any forwarding address, and they had bolted and barred the house to prevent us getting in. [the camera settles on an isolated changing hut next to the water] However, a neighbour told us where they were. [the changing hut explodes]
Mr and Mrs Watson: AAAGH!
Narrator: [as the camera cuts to a Gumby standing in a building site] And here is the neighbour who told us where they were. [he blows up, leaving nothing but a pair of wellington boots] Nobody likes a clever dick. [stock footage of an old brick house] Here is where he lived. [the house explodes] And this is where Lord Langdon lived, who refused to speak to us. [stock footage of an old factory building being blown up] So did the gentleman who lived here... [different shot of the same factory, now a smouldering wreck] And here... [same factory again, still ablaze] And, of course, here. [shot of a clifftop building complex, already on fire, blowing sky high] And, er, Manchester... [black and white stock footage of nuclear test] And the West Midlands... [more nuclear test footage] Spain... [still more nuclear test footage] CHINA!... [yet more nuclear test footage as the narrator starts cackling with insane glee]
Episode 25: Spam
- Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook. Fun with foreign languages at its funniest.Title card: In 1970, the British Empire lay in ruins, foreign nationals frequented the streets - many of them Hungarians (not the streets - the foreign nationals). Anyway, many of these Hungarians went into tobacconists' shops to buy cigarettes.....
Hungarian: Ah. Ah. [reading hesitantly from phrasebook] I will not buy this record, it is scratched.
Tobacconist: ... sorry?
Hungarian: [enunciating more clearly] I will not buy this record, it is scratched.
Tobacconist: No, no, no. This ... tobacconist's.
Hungarian: Ah! [he and the tobacconist point at each other in dawning comprehension] I will not buy this tobacconist's, it is scratched!
Tobacconist: No, no, no... tobacco... er, cigarettes? [picks up a pack of cigarettes]
Hungarian: [delighted] Yah!note Yah, ci-gar-ettes. [reading hesitantly from phrasebook again] My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels.
Tobacconist: ... what?
Hungarian: My hovercraft... [mimes smoking a cigarette] is full of eels. [mimes striking a match]
Tobacconist: Matches! Matches? [picks up a box of matches]
Hungarian: Yah, yah, yah, yah! [he takes cigarettes and matches and reads hesitantly from the phrasebook again] Er, do you wannnt... do you wannnt to come back to my place, bouncy bouncy?
Tobacconist: [thoroughly confused] Er, I don't think you're using that right.
Hungarian: [reading from phrasebook again] You great poof.
Tobacconist: That'll be 6/6, please.
Hungarian: [reading from phrasebook once more] If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me? I... I am no longer infected.
Tobacconist: [takes phrasebook] May I... may I...
Hungarian: Yah, yah!
Tobacconist: It costs 6/6... [mumbling as he searches] "Costs six and..." Here we are... [reads from phrasebook] Yandelavasa grldenwi stravenka. [the Hungarian looks very offended and punches him in the face] WAGHH!
[a policeman walking along the street suddenly stops and puts his hand to his ear. He starts running down the street, round corner and down another street, round yet another corner and down another street into the shop]
Policeman: What's going on here then?
Hungarian: Ah. [opening book and pointing at policeman] You have beautiful thighs.
Policeman: [looks down at his thighs, then back up again; outraged] WHAT!?
Tobacconist: He hit me!
Hungarian: [reading from phrasebook while pointing at policeman] Drop your panties, Sir William, I cannot wait till lunchtime. [points at tobacconist]
Policeman: RIGHT! [grabs the Hungarian and drags him out]
Hungarian: [by way of protest] My nipples explode with delight!
- "Gumby Flower Arranging", which Michael Palin described as the bane of his existence during the live show due to the strain it put on his voice. After picking up assorted flowers (not necessarily getting them the right way up), the presenter instructs the viewers to "ARRANGE THEM, NICELY!, IN A VASE!" before producing a hammer to do exactly that.
- ...spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam... Consider all the random bits of goofiness on the sidelines here: lowering the couple in on wires, the Vikings chowing down, the Brick Joke when the Hungarian with the dirty phrasebook walks in and is promptly arrested...Waitress (Terry Jones): You can't have eggs, bacon, spam, and sausage without spam in it.
Mrs Bun (Graham): WHY NOT!?
Waitress: We-e-e-ell, it wouldn't be eggs, bacon, spam, and sausage without spam in it, wouldn't it?!
Mrs Bun: I DON'T LIKE SPAM!
Mr Bun (Eric): Oh, don't make a fuss, dear. I'll have your spam. I love it! I'm having spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, [the Vikings start singing again] spam, baked beans, spam, spam, and spam!
Waitress: Baked beans are off.
Mr Bun: Well, can I have spam instead?
Waitress: You mean spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, and spam? [the Vikings sing ever louder]
Mr Bun: Yes.
Waitress: Bleagh! [as the Vikings keep singing] SHUT UP! SHUT UP! [hammers a wooden spoon against the tea urn as a Hungarian (John) enters with a phrasebook]
Hungarian: Ah. Great boobies, honeybun, my lower intestine is full of spam, egg, spam, bacon, [the waitress begins hitting him with the wooden spoon; a police whistle sounds] spam, tomato, spam, spam...
Waitress: [as the Vikings start singing yet again] Shut up!
Hungarian: [as a policeman enters and drags him out] My nipples-
Waitress: Shut up!
[cut to a historian (helpfully identified as such by a caption) sitting in front of two maps, one of Great Britain and one of Scandinavia; the coast of Norway is lined with black arrows]
Historian (Michael): Another great Viking victory was at the Green Midget Cafe in Bromley. Once again, the Viking strategy was the same. [points at the map of Scandinavia with a wooden pointer] They sailed from these fjords here, assembled at Trondheim, and waited for the strong north-easterly winds to blow their oaken galleys to England, whence they sailed on May 23. Once in Bromley, [he points to an arrow indicating Bromley on the map of Britain] they assembled in the Green Midget Cafe. [the wall behind him starts lifting up and out of shot to reveal the cafe set; throughout the next line, the historian's neck twitches each time he says "spam"] And spam selecting a particular spam item from the spam menu, spam, spam, spam... [the Viking chorus starts joining in again, with the historian using his pointer like a baton to conduct them; the waitress starts yelling "SHUT UP!" to no avail as Mr and Mrs Bun are pulled back up out of shot on the same wires on which they descended]
Episode 26: Royal Episode 13 (or: The Queen Will Be Watching)
- The man who speaks only the ends of words.
- The Exploding Blue Danube. Strauss meets Tchaikovsky in an outdoor performance of the famous Viennese waltz in which, every few measures, one of the musicians explodes in a spectacular fireball.note
- Used multiple times (in this episode, in a sketch about lifeboat survivors contemplating cannibalism after weeks at sea):Person #1 [inquiring how much time has elapsed]: How long is it?
Person #2: That's rather personal, isn't it?
- The lifeboat sketch ends with the studio audience booing, then a Strongly Worded Letter is being read:Dear Sir, I am glad to hear that your studio audience disapproves of the last skit as strongly as I. As a naval officer I abhor the implication that the Royal Navy is a haven for cannibalism. It is well known that we have the problem relatively under control, and that it is the RAF who now suffer the largest casualties in this area. And what do you think the Argylls ate in Aden. Arabs? Yours etc. Captain B.J. Smethwick in a white wine sauce with shallots, mushrooms and garlic.
- The Pythons may not have been happy with the execution of the "audience storming the stage" aspect of the Undertaker Sketch (a genuinely horrified audience would have just sat there in silence, but the rest of the audience can be heard laughing over the small group who were instructed to heckle John and Graham; said small group also jumps the gun a bit in shouting down the performers), but the sketch itself is a hilarious example of their fondness for Refuge in Audacity, boosted no end by Graham's wild-eyed performance as the undertaker. He tells John that he has three options for laying his mother to rest: burning her, burying her, or dumping her in the Thames (he drops the last idea when John says he liked his mum), then graphically describes what happens in the first two processes. It turns out John has brought his mother's dead body to the undertakers' in a sack, and after the undertaker determines that she looks quite young, he tells his colleague, Fred (Eric), that he thinks they have "an eater". The BBC hated the sketch so much they actually wiped the original master. Fortunately a copy survived, albeit in slightly lower quality.Customer: Er, excuse me, erm, are you, er, are you suggesting... eating my mother?
Undertaker: [awkward pause] Er... yeah! Not raw, cooked!
Undertaker: Yes, roasted with a few French fries, broccoli... horseradish sauce? [licks lips hungrily and grins]
Customer: Well, I... I do feel a bit peckish. [the audience heckling gets louder, as does the audience laughter]
Customer: Can we have some parsnips?
Undertaker: [toward back room] Fred, get some parsnips! [shot of studio audience, then back to the sketch]
Customer: [folds arms] I really don't think I should.
Undertaker: Look, tell you what, we'll eat her, if you feel a bit guilty about it after, we can dig a grave and you can throw up in it. [the audience "snaps" and two dozen or so people jump up from their seats and rush the stage, surrounding John, Graham, and Eric; cut to the closing credits as "God Save the Queen" begins playing, stopping the "rioting" as the audience and the performers stand to attention]note
- The Stock Market Report. It starts off oddly enough, with some rather curious commodities being discussed, then devolves into utter gibberish:Newsreader: Trading was crisp at the start of the day with some brisk business on the floor. Rubber hardened and string remained confident. Little bits of tin consolidated although biscuits sank after an early gain and stools remained anonymous. Armpits rallied well after a poor start. Nipples rose dramatically during the morning but had declined by mid-afternoon, while teeth clenched and buttocks remained firm. Small dark furry things increased severely on the floor, whilst rude jellies wobbled up and down, and bounced against rising thighs which had spread to all parts of the country by mid-afternoon. After lunch naughty things dipped sharply forcing giblets upwards with the nicky nacky noo. Ting tang tong rankled dithely, little tipples pooped and poppy things went pong! Gibble gabble gobble went the rickety rackety roo and... [gets drenched by a bucket of water]
Animated woman: [leaning out of window holding a bucket] That'll teach you to be normal!
Episode 28: Mr. and Mrs. Brian Norris' Ford Popular
- Mrs Niggerbaiter suddenly exploding.
- The doctor's subsequent explanation of how he uses explosives to treat various illnesses.
- Plus the sheer outrageousness of having a character called Mrs. Niggerbaiter.
- "Don't be so sentimental mother, things explode everyday."
- ... He's coming to the studio tonight to talk about the Life of Tchaikovsky. Which is a bit of a pity as this is Farming Club.
- "The Fish Slapping Dance" is perhaps the perfect distillation of the random insanity that is Python, all in a convenient, easily-digested package. It's so simple - Michael and John in old Army uniforms and pith helmets, with Michael hopping back and forth while slapping John on both cheeks with two small, slimy fish, followed by John producing an enormous fish after the music stops and knocking Michael into the nearby canal with one hit - yet so brilliant. When the Pythons (minus Graham Chapman, who was unable to participate due to a slight case of death) were asked to compile lists of sketches they felt had stood the test of time, this was the only one to appear on all five lists.
Episode 29: The Money Programme
- The Bait-and-Switch at the beginning. The opening credits and theme song to The Money Programme (a real financial affairs series which ran on BBC2 from 1966-2010) appear, likely fooling viewers in 1972 into thinking The BBC had shuffled the schedule without telling anyone again... then we switch to a comically money-mad Eric Idle who goes into just how much he likes money before standing on the desk and bursting into song.I've got... 90 thousand pounds in my pajamas.I've got 40 thousand French francs in my fridge.I've got lots and lots of Lira,And the Deutschmark's getting dearerAnd my dollar bills would buy the Brooklyn Bridge.
- Before there was Sam Peckinpah's Salad Days, there was Gardening Club. After a continuity announcer explains that the BBC are censoring the violence and nudity-filled scene that is supposed to follow in the preceding sketch (not that this stops him from describing said violence and nudity in some detail), he tells the viewers they will instead be showing Gardening Club. The scene opens with a shot of a flower bed, a string arrangement of the actual Gardening Club theme playing on the soundtrack... a tranquil atmosphere which is quickly shattered as a large group of people in various costumes and/or states of undress (including a Gumby and a pantomime goose) run toward the flowers and engage in what can best be described as a PG-rated orgy. The caption explains all by identifying the scene as Ken Russell's Gardening Club (1958).
- The Argument Clinic, particularly Graham Chapman in the "Abuse Department" and the quite silly "Getting Hit on the Head lessons". Which is followed in "Live at the Hollywood Bowl" by this.
Episode 30: Blood, Devastation, Death, War, and Horror
- In one sketch (which, for no very good reason, plays out beneath a banner which reads "Is the Queen Sane?"), Michael Palin plays a presenter who gets flustered about adequately conveying the difference between pausing after a sentence and falling silent after he has finished his speech, so he decides to use a gesture wherein he starts with his hand palm down next to his chest and then moves it up and over in a semicircle until it is facing palm upwards to indicate a pause. Later in the episode, after a continuity announcement by some very emotionally overwrought announcers, we see the visuals (but cannot hear the sound, as the announcers have forgotten to cut away from their own microphones while they have their tea break) of actual BBC newsreader Richard Baker... who uses that same gesture every time he gets to the end of a sentence. The other increasingly strange gestures he makes while reading the news, coupled with the peculiar images displaying on the screen behind him, leave us wondering just what happened in the news that day...
Episode 31: The All-England Summarize Proust Competition
Episode 32: The War Against Pornography
- MY BRAIN HURTS! Perhaps the one sketch that best distilled the Gumbys as comic characters. From the patient going from hammering the bell on the doctor's desk to demolishing most of the furniture in his office while screaming "DOCTOR! DOCTOR!" until the doctor - another Gumby - arrives, to the multiple attempts the patient needs to get the doctor to acknowledge that he is indeed the brain specialist ("I am not the brain specialist! No, no, I am not! ... Yes. Yes I am!"), to the doctor initially reaching for the front of the patient's trousers when told "MY BRAIN HURTS!" ("No, the brain in my head!"), to the doctor repeatedly screaming for his nurse when she is standing right in front of him, to the doctor muttering "My brain hurts too!...", it is pure hilarity from start to finish.
- A quiet evening at home for two competitive dancers:Chapman [in a ballroom dress]: George?
Jones [in a tuxedo]: Yes Gladys?
Chapman: There's a man at the door with a mustache.
Jones: Tell him I've already got one.
[Chapman slaps him around with a newspaper]
- The Pythons were not shy about lampshading their sillier sketches. This episode concludes with a fine example in which a history presenter (John) interviews the very silly Mr Badger (Eric) about his new theory about the Magna Carta:Presenter: The Magna Carta - was it a document signed at Runnymede in 1215 by King John pledging independence to the English barons, or was it a piece of chewing gum on a bedspread in Dorset? The latter idea is the brainchild of a man new to the field of historical research. [the camera pulls back to reveal said man, Mr Badger, who wears a flat cap, bow tie, and argyle pullover] Mr Badger, why... why are you on this programme?
Badger: [Scots accent] Er, well, I think I can answer this question most successfully in mime. [he stands up, then squats down a bit, twirls two fingers in the air, holds out his other arm and taps the fingers against his forearm, then holds them to his ear before sitting down again]
Presenter: But why Dorset?
Badger: Er, well, I have for a long time been suffering from a species of brain injury which I incurred during the rigours of childbirth, and I'd like to conclude by putting my finger up my nose. [does so]
Presenter: [matter-of-factly] Mr Badger, I think you're the silliest person we've ever had on this programme, and so I'm going to ask you to have dinner with me.
Caption: Later that same sketch
[the microphones have been replaced with a restaurant table set for two]
Badger: My wife Maureen ran off with a bottle of Bell's Whisky during the Aberdeen vs. Raith Rovers match which ended in a goalless draw. Robson particularly, in goal, had a magnificent first half, his fine positional sense preventing the build-up of any severe pressure on the suspect Aberdeen defence. McLaughlin missed an easy chance to clinch the game towards the final whistle but Raith must be well satisfied with their point.
Presenter: [nods, smiling] Do please go on, this is the least fascinating conversation I've ever had!
Waiter (Michael): [entering] Would you like to order, sir?
Presenter: Ah yes, Mr Badger, what would you like to start with?
Badger: [takes the menu from the waiter and looks over it] Er... I'll have a whisky to start with.
Waiter: [confused] For first course, sir?
Waiter: [shrugs and writes on his pad] And for main course, sir?
Badger: Er, I'll have a whisky for main course... [the waiter looks put upon] And I'll follow that with a whisky for pudding.
Waiter: [finishes writing the order on his pad] Yes sir, and what would you like with it, sir? A whisky?
Badger: No, a bottle of wine. [hands the menu back to the waiter]
Michael: [breaking character] Fine, sir, he said between clenched teeth knowing full well it was a most unrewarding part.
John: [breaking character] This is the silliest sketch I've ever been in.
Eric: [breaking character] Shall we stop it? [Michael looks back and forth between John and Eric]
John: ... yeah, all right. [they all leave the set; "THE END" appears on screen, followed by the closing credits]
Episode 33: Salad Days
- The "Biggles Dictates a Letter" sketch, especially Biggles' argument with his secretary.Biggles: No, no, no, you loopy brothel inmate.
Secretary: I've had enough of this. I am not a courtesan.
Biggles: Oh, oh, 'courtesan', oh aren't we grand. Harlot's not good enough for us eh? Paramour, concubine, fille de joie. That's what we are not. Well listen to me my fine fellow, you are a bit of tail, that's what you are.
Secretary: I am not, you demented fictional character.
Biggles: Algy says you are. He says you're no better than you should be.
Secretary: And how would he know?
Biggles: And just what do you mean by that? Are you calling my old fictional comrade-in-arms a fairy?
Secretary: Fairy! Poof's not good enough for Algy, is it? He's got to be a bleedin' fairy. Mincing old RAF queen.
- The Cheese Shop Sketch is effectively the second coming of the Dead Parrot Sketch, with Michael Palin as a shopkeeper going to increasing lengths to pull the wool over the eyes of a customer played by John Cleese - despite going through dozens and dozens of varieties of cheese, the customer is unable to name a single one that the shop actually has in stock. When the shopkeeper finally admits he has no cheese at all and has been wasting the customer's time, the customer pulls out a gun and shoots him dead, puts on a cowboy hat, and rides off into the sunset.
- Sam Peckinpah's Salad Days, which logically parodies Peckinpah's bloodlust by having an absurdly genteel version of the 1954 musical quickly degenerate into a bloodbath of severed limbs and unlikely impalements with tennis rackets and piano keyboards. Sam Peckinpah himself liked the sketch and showed it to his friends and family."Pretty strong meat there from [sniff] Sam Peckinpah!" (gunned down in slow motion)
- The apology following on from that bloodbath is pretty funny too:First Voice Over: THE BBC WOULD LIKE TO APOLOGIZE TO EVERYONE IN THE WORLD FOR THE LAST ITEM. IT WAS DISGUSTING AND BAD AND THOROUGHLY DISOBEDIENT AND PLEASE DON'T BOTHER TO PHONE UP BECAUSE WE KNOW IT WAS VERY TASTELESS, BUT THEY DIDN'T REALLY MEAN IT AND THEY DO ALL COME FROM BROKEN HOMES AND HAVE VERY UNHAPPY PERSONAL LIVES, ESPECIALLY ERIC. ANYWAY, THEY'RE REALLY VERY NICE PEOPLE UNDERNEATH AND VERY WARM IN THE TRADITIONAL SHOW BUSINESS WAY AND PLEASE DON'T WRITE IN EITHER BECAUSE THE BBC IS GOING THROUGH AN UNHAPPY PHASE AT THE MOMENT - WHAT WITH ITS FATHER DYING AND THE MORTGAGE AND BBC 2 GOING OUT WITH MEN.
Second Voice Over: THE BBC WOULD LIKE TO DENY THE LAST APOLOGY. IT IS VERY HAPPY AT HOME AND BBC 2 IS BOUND TO GO THROUGH THIS PHASE, SO FROM ALL OF US HERE GOOD NIGHT, SLEEP WELL, AND HAVE AN ABSOLUTELY SUPER DAY TOMORROW, KISS, KISS.
Episode 34: The Cycling Tour
- The recurring gag "The pump got caught in m'trouser leg" is an underappreciated highlight. Then there's Mr. Gulliver's invention of a tomato which ejects itself just before a crash (which may count as a kind of Stable Time Loop).[tomato jumps out of Gulliver's glove box and through the car window]
Pither: Here!! That tomato's just ejected itself!
Gulliver: Really? [Lifts hands from steering wheel in triumph] It works! It works!! [CRASH]
Episode 35: The Nude Organist (or: The Nude Man)
- The Olympic Hide-and-Seek final. Britain's Don Roberts found Paraguay's Francisco Huron in a sweet shop in Kilmarnock after 11 years, 2 months, 26 days, 9 hours, 3 minutes, and 27 seconds. Huron proceeds to find Roberts hiding in a castle in Sardinia after... 11 years, 2 months, 26 days, 9 hours, 3 minutes, and 27 seconds. The replay is scheduled for 7.30am the next day.
Episode 36: E. Henry Thripshaw's Disease
- "The Free Repetition of Doubtful Words - Skit, Spoof, Jape, or Vignette, by a Very Under-rated Writer". The participants in this sketch - Eric as the customer, Terry Jones as the clerk - deliver their lines in the most stilted way imaginable, framed by a stylised vignette frame and introduced by the first movement from Mozart's String Quartet No.3:Customer: I've come for some free repetition of doubtful words on an inland telegram.
Clerk: Have you got the telegram in question?
Customer: I have the very thing here. [produces telegram]
Clerk: Well, slip it to me my good chap and let me eye the contents.
Customer: At once, Mr Telegram Enquiry Man. [hands over the telegram]
Clerk: Thank you, Mr Customer Man. [reads] Aha. "Parling I glove you. Clease clome at bronce, your troving swife, Pat." Which was the word you wanted checking?
Customer: My wife's name is not Pat at all.
Customer: It's Bat. With a B.
Clerk: And therefore I will take a quick look in the book.
Caption: ONE QUICK LOOK IN THE BOOK LATER
Clerk: You're quite right, old cock. There has been a mistake.
Customer: I thought as much. What really does it say?
Clerk: It says "Go away you silly little bleeder. I am having another man. Love Bat." Quite some error.
Customer: Yes. She wouldn't call herself Pat. It's silly.
Clerk: Daft, I call it.
Customer: Well, it has been a pleasure working with you.
Clerk: For me also it has been a pleasure. And that concludes our little skit.
[the customer and clerk look unsure what to do with themselves as Mozart's String Quartet No.3 begins playing again, but the view widens to reveal a string quartet playing the music live on set]
Voiceover: [reading caption aloud] The Free Repetition of Doubtful Words Thing, by a Justly Under-rated Writer. The End.
Episode 37: Dennis Moore
- The funniest part of the recurring "Dennis Moore" sketch, a Robin Hood parody, is the various iterations the theme tune (a Filk Song version of the theme tune to the 1955-60 TV series The Adventures of Robin Hood) goes through. The first two verses are fairly straightforward explanations of Dennis' "Rob from the rich to give to the poor (but only lupins)" modus operandi, but the third verse involves the singers muttering most of the words, the fourth invokes Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion ("Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, riding through the woods / Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, with a bag of things..."), the fifth cuts off after one line ("Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, et cetera, et cetera!"), and the sixth turns the whole sketch on its ear:Singers: Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, riding through the land
Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, without a merry band
He steals from the poor and gives to the rich
Dennis: [pulls up his horse] What did you say?
Singers: [spoken in unison] We sang, "He steals from the poor and gives to the rich."
Dennis: [looks thoughtful] Wait a tick... blimey, this re-distribution of wealth is trickier than I thought.
[cue Dennis holding up a coach and... trying to re-distribute the passengers' money and jewellery so that they all have equal shares]note
- The Prejudice sketch. What makes it especially funny is Michael Palin's performance as the host.Host: [in a serious tone] But as you know on this programme we're not just prejudiced against race or colour. [cheerfully] We're also prejudiced against - yes, you've guessed, stinking homosexuals!
Episode 38: A Book at Bedtime
- "All you have to do is... Spot the Looney!" Plenty of classic moments in this sketch:
- A panel of three guests is introduced - Gurt Svensson (Terry Jones), a man dressed only in a green loincloth and green socks standing on his head (which is wrapped in orange cloth) and sporting the word "EGGS" on his stomach; Dame Elsie Occluded (Michael), a woman sticking out of the side of a block of concrete (with her feet sticking out another side perpendicular to her body) dressed in a green wig, flying goggles and gloves, and fairy wings; and Miles Yellow-Bird-Up-High-In-Banana-Tree (Terry Gilliam), a man in a rabbit costume with a megaphone strapped to his eye. The phone on the presenter's desk rings; the presenter (Eric) answers it, chuckles, and congratulates the caller on having spotted that the entire panel are loonies.
- The presenter introduces a film segment and tells viewers that all they have to do is "Spot the Looney!" The films shows a typically foggy day at the foot of Ben Macdui (the second-highest peak in Britain) as a travelogue announcer (Michael) describes its "dark, forbidding" south face. The clip is interrupted by jaunty music as a looney dressed in a toga, a tam-o'-shanter, and wellingtons and dragging an inflatable toy behind him on a rope skips between two bushes in the foreground. The phone on the presenter's desk rings, and he congratulates the caller, Mrs Nesbitt of York, on spotting the looney after just 1.8 seconds.
- The presenter tells the viewers they are about to see photos of golfer Tony Jacklin, Cabinet minister Anthony Barber,note author Edgar Allan Poe, TV presenter Katie Boyle, former Cabinet minister Reginald Maudling,note and a looney. The screen cuts to a photograph of Anthony Barber... and a viewer immediately phones in.
- Having instructed the viewers to wait until all of the photos are shown (in order: Barber, Boyle, Poe, a looney in a red wig and comedy glasses with several blacked out teeth and the words "A LOONEY" written on his chest, Maudling, Jacklin), the presenter confirms that the looney was indeed the second picture. He then has to issue a hasty correction that the looney was the fourth picture, and that Katie Boyle is not a looney... she is a television personality.
- The segment concludes with a completely bonkers Ivanhoe "adaptation" (set in a modern butcher's shop with a "cast" comprising Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F'tang-F'tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel (from the "Silly Election" sketch), a man in a bee costume jumping up and down on the counter, a man in a knee-length vest dancing with a side of beef, a man dressed as a carrot squawking "Pretty boy!", and a man in oilskins and waders flying back and forth on a stage rope)... and, following the phones on the presenter's desk buzzing furiously as he answers three of them at once, he reveals that, as correctly guessed by Mrs L of Leicester, Mrs B of Buxton, and Mrs G of Gatwick, the looney was the writer, Sir Walter Scott. Who doesn't take this accusation well:[cut to an outraged Scott in his study]
Walter Scott (Graham): I didn't write that! Sounds more like Dickens!
[cut to Dickens in HIS study]
Charles Dickens (Terry Jones): You bastard!
Episode 39: Grandstand (or: The British Showbiz Awards)
- One of the Pythons' best Bait-and-Switch openings: the episode opens with the Thames Television logo, then actual Thames continuity announcer David Hamilton announces that they have an action-packed evening on Thames - "but right now, here's a rotten old BBC programme!"
- This announcement:Announcer: Next week on The Golden Age of Ballooning we examine the works of Glashire and Coxwell, the English ballonists who ascended to a height of 7 miles in 1862 without washing. There is also a book called 'The Golden Age of Ballooning' published by the BBC to coincide with the series. It is in an attractive hand-tool binding, is priced 5 pounds and failure to buy it will make you liable for a 50 pound fine or 3 months in prison. There's also a record of someone reading the book of 'The Golden Age of Ballooning', a crochet-work bedspread with the words 'The Golden Age of Ballooning' on it, available form the BBC, price 18 pounds or 5 months imprisonment. And there are matching toilet-seat covers and courtesy mats with illustrations of many of the balloons mentioned. Also available is a life-sized model frog, which croaks the words 'Golden Age of Ballooning' and an attractive Bakelite case for storing motorway construction plans in made in the shape of a balloon.
- And then also later on:A different announcer: George The Third was arranged and composed by Neil Innes. He is available from the BBC, price four pounds or eight months imprisonment.
Episode 41: Michael Ellis
- By this stage, the Pythons had made something of a habit of subverting traditional television programme structure by delaying the opening credits or running the closing credits early. For this episode, they cranked this subversion Up to Eleven; the episode opens, oddly enough, with the opening credits... which are followed immediately by the closing credits.
- Of the three episode-long stories from Series 4, "Michael Ellis Week" is perhaps the most successful at blending the Pythons' signature surreal humour with a narrative arc. A highlight of the saga of Chris Quinn (Eric) and his new pet ant, Marcus, is the ant documentary with the sociopathic narrator (voiced by Terry Jones):Narrator: [with a fake German accent, over a drawing of an ant] The body of the ant is divided into three sections: the head, the thorax, and the abdomen. [arrows indicate each body part in turn] They are enclosed in a hard, armour-like covering called the exoskeleton, [the arrow moves around the ant's body to illustrate] which provides some protection from other nasty little insects. But, unfortunately... not from the dissector's scalpel! [a hand holding a scalpel reaches into frame and chops off half the ant's head, the the back half of the abdomen; the narrator's tone changes to sadistic glee] See! Nothing to it! He's not such a toughie! And these legs! [arrows indicate each leg in turn] They help him carry hundreds of times his own weight, but look at this! [a hand reaches into frame and pulls off the ant's legs, one by one] You're not so strong compared with me!... Four! Five! Six!
Chris: I didn't know ants had six legs, Marcus!
Narrator: I assure you they do, Mr Ellis!
Chris: [examines Marcus] HEY! You've got two legs missing! And that's a false feeler! Blimey, Marcus!
- The episode ends with Chris... complaining about the lame ending. Cut to him at a store department where he tries to purchase a more satisfying ending, going through "Walking into the sunset", "Being chased off comically by all the episode's prior antagonists", and, finally, "Sudden Ending" (cut immediately to black).
Episode 42: The Light Entertainment War
- Woody and Tinny Words. From the daughter (Carol Cleveland) crying hysterically to the point of leaving the room at the mention of the word "tin" and words adjudged to be "tinny", to the father (Graham) getting so worked up over his perception that most naughty words are "woody" that his wife (Eric) has to leave the room and return with a bucket of water to empty over him, to the four servants in the background who remain completely silent and motionless throughout the sketch, it is an island of trademark Python surrealism in an otherwise uneven episode from the similarly uneven Series 4.
Episode 44: Mr. Neutron
- Though the episode's main story (Graham as a superbeing from another planet with tremendous yet vague powers who leads a very mundane life in the north London suburb of Ruislip) is unmemorable, the "Conjuring Today" sketch at the end of the episode with Michael as a saw-wielding, wild-eyed magician makes it worth it:Magician: Good evening. Last week we learned how to saw a lady in half. This week we're going to learn how to saw a lady in three bits and dispose of the body-WHOA! [gets chased off by police]
- The American military's attempts to seek and destroy Mr. Neutron (for whatever unfathomable reason) leads them to try and contact rogue CIA man Teddy Salad, who is apparently living in the Yukon, disguised as a sled dog. Meanwhile, Palin's General Ripper character decides to carpet bomb randomly selected countries for no reason while he strips and shaves himself in his office.
Episode 45: Party Political Broadcast
- The Most Awful Family In Britain is hysterical. It features the Garibaldi family, who do any number of horrible, disgusting yet funny things throughout the sketch.
- You have Eric as the mother, ironing all sorts of things, including the cat, the radio, the phone, a standard lamp, and various bits of crockery. Halfway through the sketch, she gets a phone call suggesting that she, or possibly even the entire family, may be involved in the making of a Hollywood film starring Faye Dunaway.
- The radio broadcast itself is funny, at least until it gets melted by the iron.Radio voice: Pratt... back to Pratt... Pratt again... a long ball out to Pratt... and now Pratt is on the ball, a neat little flick back inside to Pratt, who takes it nicely and sends it through on the far side to Pratt, Pratt with it but passes instead to Pratt, Pratt again, oh and well intercepted by the swarthy little number nine, Concito Maracon. This twenty-one-year-old half back, remarkably stocky for 6' 3", square shouldered, balding giant, hair flowing in the wind, bright eyed, pert, young for his age but oh so old in so many ways. For a thirty-nine-year-old you wouldn't expect such speed. Normally considered slow, he's incredibly fast as he wanders aimlessly around, sweeping up and taking the defence to the cleaners. Who would have thought, though many expected it, that this remarkable forty-five-year-old, 9' 4" dwarf of a man, who is still only seventeen in some parts of the world, would ever really be ... Oh and there was a goal there apparently ... and now it's Pratt ... back to Pratt... Pratt again... a long ball to Pratt...
- Michael, as younger son Ralph, knocks over everything he touches. He breaks the sink in half when he tries to wash up, and eventually causes the entire kitchen wall to collapse when he goes to answer the door. He also seems to think nothing of the fact that he has to remove a rat from the loaf of bread sitting on the table before he starts slathering butter on it.
- Terry Jones, the father, spends the whole sketch mumbling about different types of cereal and how they affect his bowel movements. To drive the point home, he is sitting on a toilet instead of a chair at the kitchen table. Meanwhile, his box of Ano-Weet cereal advertises a free Pope and demonstration record inside.
- Terry Gilliam, once again given a horrible role, is older son Kevin, a fat, flatulent boy who is either constantly eating beans or moaning that he's run out of beans, while his disgusted father wafts the air near him with his newspaper.Kevin: Beans!
Mrs Garibaldi: Shut up!
- Graham, looking absolutely shocking with his face pancaked with makeup, is the daughter, Valerie, who is dressed in a PVC red skirt and has a huge beehive hairdo. She gets offended when Michael's character keeps going on about Rhodesia, calling him a racist.Ralph: [knocks the cereal box off of the table] Oh, sorry, mum ... Now if we lived in Rhodesia there'd be someone to mop that up for you.
Valerie: Don't be so bleedin' stupid. If you lived in bleedin' Rhodesia, you'd be out at bleedin' fascist rallies every bleedin' day. You're a bleedin' racist, you bleedin' are.
Mr Garibaldi: Language!
Valerie: Well he gets on my sodding wick.
- The random Running Gag of a short, balding old man emerging from the kitchen cupboard whenever one of the characters says "Dad", only to go back into the cupboard when told the speaker didn't mean him.
- This exchange later on is brilliant:Valerie: Right, I'm off.
Mrs Garibaldi: When are you coming back tonight?
Mrs Garibaldi: I think it's disgusting... you a Member of Parliament.
- And then there are the visitors. With an election on the horizon, the Liberal candidate shows up (the episode itself is framed as a party political broadcast on behalf of the Liberal Party) and... gives a parody martial arts demonstration to the uninterested Mrs Garibaldi. And then at the end of the sketch, the postman comes swinging into the room Tarzan-style, for no reason whatsoever.
- And when the panel are consulted, it turns out that they think the Garibaldis aren't awful enough! They end up in third behind the Featherstonehaugh-Cholmondleys (pronounced "Fanshaw-Chumleys"), a family of four Upper Class Twits who talk at the top of their lungs and all at the same time while sat around the dinner table, and the Jodrell family, whose footage was so awful the judges can't even show it (but what little they are able to say about it paints a vivid - and disgusting - picture).Judge: I can't make up my mind about this family. I don't know if they have that sustained awfulness we're looking for. I mean, the father was appalling... he was dirty, nasty, and repulsive, and I liked him very much.
- "Icelandic Honey Week", which features a family, except all three of them are dressed like pepperpots, including the dad and son. They also have a cat sticking through their wall that appears to function as their doorbell. And things quickly get even weirder!
- There's this exchange, for starters:Mother (Eric): Dad?
Dad (Terry J): Yes?
Mother: Get your stinking feet off the bread.
Dad: I'm only wiping the cat's do's off.
Son (Terry G): Mum?
Mother: Shut yer face, Douglas.
Son: I wanted some corn-plasters.
Mother: Shut up and eat what you got.
- And then an Icelandic man dressed like an Icelandic woman arrives and starts trying to sell them some Icelandic honey.Mother: He can't eat honey. It makes him go plop plops.
Dad: All right I'll have some Icelandic Honey.
Man (Graham): No, there is no such thing.
Dad: You mean you don't make any honey at all?
Man: No, no, we must import it all. Every bally drop. We are a gloomy people. It's so crikey cold and dark up there, and only fish to eat. Fish and imported honey. Oh strewth!
Mother: Well why do you have a week?
Man: Listen Buster! In Reykjavik it is dark for eight months of the year, and it's cold enough to freeze your wrists off and there's only golly fish to eat. Administrative errors are bound to occur in enormous quantities. Look at this - it's all a mistake. It's a real pain in the sphincter! Icelandic Honey Week? My Life!
Mother: Well why do you come in here trying to flog the stuff, then?
Man: Listen Cowboy. I got a job to do. It's a stupid, pointless job but at least it keeps me away from Iceland, all right?
- There's this exchange, for starters:
- The description page for the official YouTube page:For 7 years you YouTubers have been ripping us off, taking tens of thousands of our videos and putting them on YouTube. Now the tables are turned. It's time for us to take matters into our own hands. We know who you are, we know where you live and we could come after you in ways too horrible to tell. But being the extraordinarily nice chaps we are, we've figured a better way to get our own back: We've launched our own Monty Python channel on YouTube. No more of those crap quality videos you've been posting. We're giving you the real thing - HQ videos delivered straight from our vault. What's more, we're taking our most viewed clips and uploading brand new HQ versions. And what's even more, we're letting you see absolutely everything for free. So there! But we want something in return. None of your driveling, mindless comments. Instead, we want you to click on the links, buy our movies & TV shows and soften our pain and disgust at being ripped off all these years.
- From the second German TV special:
- The Silly Olympics. Events include:
- The 100 yards for people with no sense of direction; when the starter fires his pistol, the runners scatter in all directions.
- The 1500 metres for the deaf; the starter fires his pistol repeatedly and screams at the top of his lungs, but the runners remain on the starting line.
- The 200 metres freestyle for non-swimmers; the competitors dive into the pool... and don't re-surface.
- The marathon for incontinents; as soon as the starter's pistol is fired, the runners bolt for the men's toilets en masse, and the lead keeps changing as, one at a time, they make a break for the nearest hedge to relieve themselves.
- The high jump, a film of a stunt dummy being thrown off a balcony played in reverse.
- The 3000 metres steeplechase for people who think they're chickens; a Canadian competitor has laid several eggs on one fence.
- "International Philosophy": "The Germans are disputing it! Hegel is arguing that the reality is merely an a priori adjunct of non-analytic ethics, Kant by the categoric imperative is holding that ultimologically possessed only in the imagination and Marx is claiming it was offside!" (In a bit of Genius Bonus, it really was offside.)
- The Silly Olympics. Events include:
- The four Yorkshiremen skit (originally performed on At Last the 1948 Show with Cleese, Chapman, Tim Brooke-Taylor, and Marty Feldman). How ridiculous each story gets is hysterical. Especially this line:Eric: I had to get up at 10 o'clock at night, half an hour before I went to bed.
- The 1979 Secret Policeman's Ball version, with Rowan Atkinson as the guest Yorkshireman, is outstanding, partly because of the pacing and the quality of the performances, but also because the director keeps returning to Cleese's reaction throughout: he becomes more and more stony-faced as the others' tales of woe become more and more outrageous, until he finally sits forward, says "Right -", and proceeds to top them all with the most terrifying childhood misery story in the history of the sketch, delivered with trademark Cleese intensity. Terry Jones is corpsing so much that he has to hide his face.
- The charity version with Vic Reeves, Harry Enfield, Eddie Izzard and Alan Rickman (!) at the Secret Policeman's Ball is also worth mentioning.
- The Penultimate Supper, It took him hours, and turning kangaroos into disciples can't be easy.
- The movie version of the Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook sketch throws in one more gag for good measure:Hungarian: [faltering] Please fondle my buttocks.
Businessman: [completely unfazed] Ah yes. Past the post office, 200 yards down, and then left at the lights.
- Their take on Little Red Riding Hood. Red is portrayed by the six-foot-four John Cleese and depicted as ripping redwood logs apart barehanded. The wolf is played by a nervous looking dachshund who keeps trying to sneak out of the camera frame. The resolution?And from out of Granny's bedroom, came... Buzz Aldrin, America's number two spaceman! For this was not Granny's house at all, but the headquarters of NASA! And so, the Big Bad Wolf was shot by security guards (dachshund gets dragged offscreen by his leash). NASA agreed to limit the number of rocket tests at Granny's house to two a week. And Little Red became Telefunken's sales representative to the United Arab Emirates.