And now for Something Completely Different...
Monty Python's Flying Circus is a British sketch comedy television series featuring the comedy troupe Monty Python that originally aired on The BBC from 1969 to 1974. The success of its uniquely surreal lunacy has also generated four spinoff films to date, each featuring the same troupe in multiple roles before and behind the camera.
In its native country the show is considered by many to be the best British television program ever made, with the Pythons themselves regarded as essentially The Beatles of comedy (John Lennon and George Harrison were in fact huge fans, and Ringo Starr made a brief cameo in one episode). Monty Python invaded America with rebroadcasts on local PBS stations, two ABC late-night specials in 1975 and a 1988 video release. They found a relatively small but devoted and appreciative audience stateside and influenced many American sketch comedy series over the years. On either side of the Atlantic, the show is now so firmly entrenched in pop-culture that quoting a line from almost any sketch or one of the films triggers either a hail of quotes or a chorus of groans.
The show became so popular abroad that in 1971 and 1972 the Pythons produced two special episodes for West German and Austrian television under the title Monty Pythons fliegender Zirkus at the Bavaria studios in Munich. The first was done in German (memorized phonetically as none of them spoke the language), the second in English, and consisted mostly of material not seen before (although there is a German version of the Lumberjack song). An English-language motion picture, And Now for Something Completely Different, featuring remakes of many sketches from the series, was released while the series was still on the air.
After their original run ended, the Python troupe made besides their own films many more in various non-Python-related collaborations, and all its members went on to continued success in film, television and other media. However Monty Python, as a troupe, disbanded upon the death of member Graham Chapman (though fans often consider any film with two or more members of the troupe in it as a Python film despite this).
As noted above, the show's seemingly random but actually highly sophisticated humour has spawned its own adjective — Pythonesque. Anything can happen during any given sketch, and usually does. Sketches end without punchlines, or the Pythons sometimes just stop mid-sketch and declare it all to be "too silly". Although the Pythons weren't the first to use these methods, they made them into an art form: postmodern, self-referential comedy, punctuated by Gilliam's absurdist animations and starring a whole lot of odd men in drag.
Thanks for some of the description go to Monty Python's Completely Useless Web Site, which has loads of current information on the cast, clips, and a supply of original scripts.
Vote on your favorite sketch here!
- Anne Elk's Theory on Brontosauruses ("My theory, which belongs to me, is mine — ahem ahem!")
- Argument Clinic ("Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position." "Yes, but that's not just saying 'no, it isn't'!" "Yes, it is!" "No, it isn't!" *Beat*)
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Assurance of health, welfare and jaywalking.
- Bruce Sketch.Subverts the One Steve Limit, as everyone ends up named Bruce. Also the trope namer for There Is No Rule Six.Bruce:Michael Baldwin, Bruce. Michael Baldwin, Bruce. Michael Baldwin, Bruce.
A different Bruce: Is your name not Bruce?
Michael: No, it's Michael.
Bruce: That's going to cause a little confusion, Mind if we call you "Bruce" to keep it clear?
- Cheese Shop (The Long List ending with A Senseless Waste Of Human Life wherein the patron kills the shop owner for not having any cheese. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to shoot you now.")
- Dead Parrot (Another Long List, preceded by Blatant Lies from a shopkeeper who sold a patron an obviously dead parrot "This is an ex-parrot!")
- The Restaurant Sketch, aka: Dirty Fork (You probably shouldn't mention it.)
- Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook (Which gave us "My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels")
- Four Yorkshiremen (Serial Escalation where each Hilariously Abusive Childhood gets progressively worse. It was not written for MPFC, but was instead created for At Last the 1948 Show, in which Cleese and Chapman starred along with Tim Brooke-Taylor and Marty Feldman. Its use in other Python stuff has led to many attributing it mistakenly to Python.)
- Lumberjack Song ("I put on women's clothing and hang around in bars... I wish I'd been a girlie, just like my dear Papa!")
- Military Fairy (Whoops! I've got your number ducky. You couldn't afford me dear. two, three)
- Nudge Nudge ("Know what I mean? Know what I mean?")
- Exploding Penguin Sketch ("BURMA!")
- Self-Defense Against Fresh Fruit ("No pointed stick?" "SHUT UP.")
- Spanish Inquisition ("NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!")
- Spam ("Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, LOVELY SPAM!! WONDERFUL SPAM!! LOVELY SPAM!! WONDERFUL SPAM!!"): Yes, Monty Python unwittingly inspired the current usage of the word spam in terms of e-mail!
- The Ministry of Silly Walks ("It's not particularly silly, is it? I mean, the right leg isn't silly at all and the left leg merely does a forward aerial half turn every alternate step.")
- Upper-Class Twit of the Year (Kick the beggar and insult the waiter.)
- The Funniest Joke in the World ("Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! ... Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!"). We have the translated version. (It's not really that funny, but click the note if you would like to know)note
- The Fish Slapping Dance (*HALIBUT*)
- Gumby Brain Surgery ("MY BRAIN HURTS! WE FORGOT THE ANESTHETIC!!")
- Undertaker/Cannibalism Sketch (So controversial, the BBC only barely allowed it to air.)
- "Are you suggesting we should eat my Mum?" "Umm...Yeah! Not raw, not raw, she'd be delicious with a few French Fries, a bit of broccoli and stuffing, delicious!" "Well, I do feel a bit peckish; No, no, I can't." "Look, we'll eat your Mum, then if you feel guilty about it, we can dig a grave and you can throw up in it." "All right!"
- How Not To Be Seen. If you have not seen the sketch, can you stand up, please. Boom Head Shot! This demonstrates the importance of watching the sketch, which demonstrates the importance of not being seen.
- You have learned the first rule of how not to be seen: Not to stand up. However, you have chosen a rather obvious piece of cover. Kaboom!
- The Piranha Brothers. "...and then he nailed my head to the floor."
- How To Identify Different Parts of the Body: "More...naughty bits."
- And now...Number One...The LARCH.
- Spot The Looney.
The BBC would like to apologize for the following tropes:
- Action Girl:
- The psychiatric nurse from "Hamlet".
- Also, Carol Cleveland plays an explorer in the "Jungle Restaurant" sketch in episode 29.
- Adaptation Distillation: Arguably some of the Python records have funnier versions of the sketches than the TV series.
- Affably Evil:
- The apologetic mass murderer, whose expressions of remorse ultimately lead the whole courtroom to honour him with a chorus of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow".
- The polite airplane hijacker in episode 16 combines this with Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain.
- All There in the Manual: A lot of character names are never actually mentioned in sketches and only appear in the scripts, and are often jokes themselves. For example, the exasperated customer in "Cheese Shop" is named Mr. Mousebender.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: One sketch has two gangsters barge into the Colonel's office and demand protection money so that his military base doesn't have "an accident." It's pretty ridiculous that gangsters would think they can push around a nation's military, but "Lucky" Luciano is believed to have done just that. During World War II, the incarcerated Luciano offered the Mafia's help in protecting America's docks from Axis sabotage in return for his freedom. The government actually accepted the deal. It's been suspected that Luciano had simply played a standard protection racket on his own nation, and any "Axis sabotage" that had occurred was done by Luciano's men themselves.
- Angry Chef: "The Dirty Fork" sketch had Mungo the chef (John Cleese) going after two customers with a butcher knife after they complained about said dirty cutlery. "No, Mungo! Not again!"
- Done deliberately with the much hyped Page 71! of the second Python book: It's just a page with PAGE 71! written on it in huge letters. Followed by a reviews page; "Oh, what a disappointment."
- Ms. Anne Elk spends a lot of time building up to her theory on brontosaurii with a long series of throat-clearing coughs. Her theory (her first one, anyway) is that "All brontosauruses are thin at one end, much, much thicker in the middle, and then thin again at the far end."
- Anti-Humor: Sketches don't have punchlines and often are interrupted without a satisfactory payoff. The one sketch with a punchline (at the insistence of the BBC), the Restaurant Sketch, was designed to elicit boos from the audience at the end. It's even deliberately lampshaded with a title card right before Chapman says the actual punchline.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Socrates scores the header that wins Greece the Philosophers' Football Match against Germany, the German philosophers step up to argue with referee Confucius.Commentator: Socrates scores, but the Germans are disputing it! Hegel is arguing that reality is merely an a priori adjunct of non-naturalistic ethics; Kant, via the categorical imperative, is holding that ontologically, it exists only in the imagination, and Karl Marx is claiming it was offside.
- Artistic License Animal Care:
- According to the "Fish Club" sketch, goldfish have a ravenous appetite and eat sausages, spring greens, gazpacho, bread and gravy.Announcer: (reading text on screen) "The RSPCA wishes it to be known that that man was not a bona-fide animal lover, and also that goldfish do not eat sausages."
Fish Club Man: Treacle tart!
Announcer: Shut up! "They are quite happy with bread crumbs, ants' eggs and—" (text shows "and the occasional pheasant" crossed out) Who wrote that?!
- Then there's the "Dead Parrot" sketch, in which it's a bit late for proper animal care; though bad animal care on the part of the incompetent pet shop owner is almost certainly the reason the parrot is no more, has ceased to be, and is an ex-parrot.
- According to the "Fish Club" sketch, goldfish have a ravenous appetite and eat sausages, spring greens, gazpacho, bread and gravy.
- Aside Glance: The cast members regularly did this, usually to express their disbelief with the situation.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Used by the Pythons to depict Noodle Incidents on-screen.
- The funniest joke in the world/"killer joke" contains some words that are German, and some words that are simply made up German.
- Attack of the Killer Whatever: Two of Gilliam's animations involved Killer Cars and Killer Houses.
- And the Monster Cat.
- Audience Participation:
- "Spot the Looney!"
- The only way the BBC would air the Undertaker sketch would be if the audience booed during the offensive bits and stormed the set after the final line ("We'll eat your mum, and then if you feel a bit guilty about it afterward, we can dig a grave and you can throw up in it!")
- Author Appeal: In universe: Mr Neville Shunt is so obsessed with trains that the characters in his murder mystery play spend more time talking about trains then discussing the murder that's just happened.
- Bait-and-Switch Credits: Several examples once the Pythons were established enough to start subverting not just sketch comedy tropes, but the very structure of television programmes.
- Episode 25 begins with fake titles and credits for a historical epic called The Black Eagle (purportedly based on a book by Rafael Sabatini), whose opening scene is interrupted by the real Title Sequence. The scene nevertheless goes on for long enough that early audiences were probably scrambling for the week's Radio Times, wondering if there had been another of the last-minute schedule changes to which Python was often subjected.
- Episode 29 opened with the opening credit sequence, music and all, to The Money Programme (a real finance and business programme that has been airing since 1966). Only when the presenter was revealed to be a comically money-mad Eric Idle who burst into song was the veil lifted.
- Episode 39 took this still further by opening with the Thames TV ident and a fake continuity link delivered by actual Thames continuity presenter David Hamilton, perhaps fooling early viewers into thinking their television was tuned to the wrong station until Hamilton announced, "But right now, here's a rotten old BBC programme!"
- Bawdy Song: Several.
- Berserk Button:
- You have to say 'dog kennel' to Mr. Lambert, because if you say 'mattress', he puts a paper bag over his head. So, for example, one asks to see the dog kennels.
- Yes, pet's department, second floor.
- If the button is pressed, you must sing "Jerusalem" a cappella to snap him out of it. While standing in a tea chest.
- "It's NOT A BALLOON!" - Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin
- Don't reject the designs of Mr. Wiggin of Ironside & Malone:Wiggin: Yes, well, of course, this is just the sort of blinkered, philistine pig-ignorance I've come to expect from you non-creative garbage. You sit there on your loathsome, spotty behinds squeezing blackheads, not caring a tinker's cuss about the struggling artist! You excrement! You lousy, hypocritical, whining toadies with your lousy colour TV sets and your Tony Jacklin golf clubs and your bleeding masonic handshakes! You wouldn't let me join, would you, you blackballing bastards! Well, I wouldn't become a Freemason now if you went down on your lousy, stinking, purulent knees and BEGGED me!
- You have to say 'dog kennel' to Mr. Lambert, because if you say 'mattress', he puts a paper bag over his head. So, for example, one asks to see the dog kennels.
- Bilingual Bonus: Like other Monty Python works, Flying Circus has a few moments for those who know other languages. The Chinese that John Cleese recites at the beginning of the "Conquistador Coffee" sketch, for example, translates "This is my friend Fu Chen Chang. My name is Gao; what's your name?" Especially awesome in this case, because "gao" is Chinese for "tall", which Cleese most certainly is.
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: They never miss an opportunity to take a swipe at The BBC.
- Blatant Lies:
- Mr. Anemone, the flying man is not hanging from the ceiling on a clearly visible wire. And he is not committing Implausible Deniability when he has to break a hoop that he flips over himself to prove that's he's not on a wire.
- There's nothing going on in the book-shop. Just ask the gun-wielding mobster.
- Taken to extremes when someone enters with a rocket launcher. "There IS something going on here!" "No, there isn't."
- Dinsdale Piranha never nailed my head to a coffee table, said by someone with a coffee table nailed to his head.Mobster: No, there's nothing going on.
- That parrot is not pining for the fjords! It's passed on!
- The Body Parts That Must Not Be Named: Censorship issues forced the writers to use the phrase "naughty bits" three times.
- Bratty Food Demand:
- During the Spam Song, the Vikings bang on the table while demanding spam.
- In "Mr. Neutron", when Carpenter goes in search of Teddy Salad, he meets some "Eskimoes" (actually MI-6 agents) who want to eat fish and when they don't get it, they repeatedly and loudly chant demands for it and pound the table.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In the "Dead Bishop Sketch", the family's reaction to finding said deceased clergyman is to call for the police, then the church, and finally the Church Police.
Mr. Bun: Morning.Waitress: Morning!Mr. Bun: What you got then?Waitress: Well, there's egg and bacon, uh, egg, sausage and bacon, egg and spam, egg, bacon and spam, egg, bacon, sausage and spam, spam, bacon, sausage and spam, spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon and spam, spam, spam, spam, egg and spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam, and spam, or lobster thermidor aux crevettes with mornay sauce, garnished with truffle pate, brandy, and a fried egg on top, and spam.
- The "Spam" sketch:
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
- The Lumberjack Song is possibly the most famous version. "I cut down trees, I skip and jump, I like to press wildflowers, I put on women's clothing and hang around in bars..."
- "Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, Panties... I'm sorry..."
- "Heinrich Bimmler"'s introduction in the North Minehead By-Election sketch is made of this:How do you do there squire? I also am not of Minehead being born but I in your Peterborough Lincolnshire was given birth to. But am staying in Peterborough Lincolnshire house all time during vor, due to jolly old running sores, and vos unable to go in the streets or to go visit football matches or go to Nuremburg. Ha ha. Am retired vindow cleaner and pacifist, without doing war crimes. Oh...and am glad England vin Vorld Cup. Bobby Charlton. Martin Peters. And eating I am lots of chips and fish and hole in the toads and Dundee cakes on Piccadilly Line, don't you know old chap, vot! And I vos head of Gestapo for ten years.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Characters would sometimes talk directly to the audience, consult their scripts in the middle of a sketch, and even complain about the show.
- Brick Joke: Many sketches were referred to later during the same episode, sometimes even later episodes. And like the original brick joke, many earlier scenes started making sense only later on.
- A notable example is "The Larch" sketch in "How to Recognize Different Types of Tree from Quite a Long Way Away", where the present shows the audience a picture of a larch over and over again. This is repeated over the course of the show, and seems to serve no purpose until the end credits, when one of the trees in the background is, indeed, a larch.
- And then seven episodes later, in the middle of the "Vocational Guidance Counselor" sketch, the counselor says "Time enough I think for a piece of wood." Cut to: The Larch.
- In the "Killer Sheep" sketch, a ratcatcher jokes that he's from a committee that's selected the flat as the venue of a cricket match. Later in the sketch, a cricket team shows up. Then another...
- The Cheese Shop sketch opens with a man entering said shop; inside, a group are playing a bouzouki and dancing. The shopkeeper initially thinks that the customer has come in to complain about the music. Nearly at the end of the sketch, the customer turns around and cries "Will you shut that bloody dancing up!" The shopkeeper turns to camera and remarks "Told you so."
- The Chemist Sketch opens with the BBC telling the Pythons not to use certain words, one of which is "Semprini". Later, in a Vox Pops section, one man claims that he uses an aftershave lotion called Semprini, and is promptly arrested.
- Bury Your Gays: Why Biggles killed Algy, and the Prejudice sketch with "Shoot the Poof".
- Butt-Monkey: If the Pythons ever needed to drop a name, regardless of connotations, it tended to be "Maudling"; Reginald Maudling was a notable MP who faced a lot of scandal in his later career.
- Camp Gay: A frequent source of humor in the show's early days, something about which Terry Jones later expressed regret. It has to be said that Graham Chapman was a real life Straight Gay who hated this stereotype and preferred parodying it to playing it straight (so to speak). Also, when Graham first came out, Barry Took advised the team that the worst thing they could do was to stop making gay jokes.
- Camp Straight: Ginger.
- "Funny. He looks like a poof."
- Captain Oblivious
- Mr. Pither from "Cycling Tour" just doesn't understand that no-one is interested in his cycling tour. The most egregious case is a couple who are arguing over their relationship problems: his interference leads to the woman dumping the man; the man throws him out of the restaurant, which he just shrugs off; and when he passes the woman who is crying her eyes out, he comments that he had a "chat with her dad" before taking off.
- Also, Ron Obvious (who, oddly enough, is not a Captain Obvious, despite his name). He never notices that his agent is trying to get him to do crazy stunts, despite his increasingly massive injuries, until he finally dies from one of them. Which the agent tries to claim is another stunt.
- Caption Humor: This show was a frequent user of this trope, arguably a Trope Codifier.
- At one point in the frequently-restarted "Ypres 1914" sketch, the caption shows "Knickers 1914" at the beginning.
- During the "Spanish Inquisition" sketch, there are captions for "Diabolical Laughter" and "Diabolical Acting".
- During the "New Brain" sketch, whenever prices are mentioned, a caption pops up showing the price after decimalization of the currency.
- Cartoon Bomb: Given to the "It's" man at the beginning of a show, it explodes at the end.
- Also, one featured in the Season 3 opening animation. It even has the word 'bomb' written on it.
- Catchphrase: "It's...", "And now for something completely different", and others. In fact, the latter phrase was originally from Blue Peter, but is only now associated with Python.
- Chatty Hairdresser: Subverted. "The Barber Sketch" contains a barber who pretends to be one of these, but both the chatting and the haircutting are only on tape.
- In a later episode, a group of these climb Mt Everest.
- The Chick: Carol Cleveland has essentially been called "the seventh Python" due to the fact that she's been in almost all their episodes and, while is not usually seen amongst them in publicity shots or so, she is just as devoted to the humour and madness as any of them.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Pick a character. Any character. Averted with Arthur Putey.
- Comically Missing the PointJohn Cleese: It was from such an unlikely beginning as an unwanted fungus accidentally growing on a sterile plate that Sir Alexander Fleming gave the world penicillin. James Watt watched an ordinary household kettle boiling and conceived the potentiality of steam power. Would Albert Einstein ever have hit upon the Theory of Relativity if he hadn't been clever? All of these tremendous leaps forward have been taken in the dark; would Rutherford ever have split the atom if he hadn't tried? Could Marconi have invented the radio if he hadn't by pure chance spent years working at the problem? Are these amazing breakthroughs ever achieved except by years and years of unlimiting study? Of course not. What I said earlier about accidental discoveries must have been wrong.
- The 'Science Fiction' sketch features a woman going to the police after seeing a blancmange on the tennis courts. The desk sergeant is more interested in the fact that she was playing mixed doubles with five people.
- The Comically Serious: The Colonel, who stops sketches for being silly.
- Graham Chapman in general tends to be the straight man of the group playing the most serious or deadpan roles.
- Corpsing: Sometimes even the Pythons have to smile at the other Pythons' jokes.Chapman: Intercourse the penguin!Cleese: (smirks broadly, struggling to remain in character)
- Creative Closing Credits: A Trope Codifier.
- One episode's closing credits, right after the "Irving C. Saltzberg" sketch, gave every name the "X C. Y-berg" treatment (Graham C. Chapmanberg, Eric C. Idleberg, etc.)
- The episode with the "Spam" sketch put everyone's names in menu items (with Spam, of course).
- The "Blood, Devastation, Death, War & Horror" episode had a Fun With Anagrams Running Gag, and the closing credits had the Python members in anagrams (Rice Lied, Torn Jersey, etc.), as well as the crew's titles.
- One episode ended with the BBC going bankrupt and having everything taped in a small household (until everyone got kicked out); the closing credits were handwritten on sheets of paper. One of which was an eviction notice.
- One episode featured a callback to a sketch set in a dirty book shop by including suggestive advertising copy or nicknames in the names of each cast and crew member (Michael "Bulky" Palin, Eric Idle (Actual Size - Batteries Extra), etc.).
- One episode ended with an inept hijacker who had appeared in several sketches reading the credits aloud as the theme music played in the background; he began with "The show was conceived, written, and performed by... the usual lot."
- At the end of the episode "Whicker's World", following the "Whicker Island" sketch, had every name with "Whicker" included (John Cleese Whicker, Graham Whicker Chapman, Alan Michael Palin Whicker, etc.)
- The very last episode lists the cast as "unsuccessful candidates" for election, with the constituencies being their actual hometowns (Graham Chapman—Leicester North, Terry Gilliam—Minneapolis North, Eric Idle—South Shields North, Terry Jones—Colwyn Bay North, Michael Palin—Sheffield North).note
- Credits Gag: In addition to many Creative Closing Credits, the placement of the credits in the show's sequence was a gag in itself.
- Of particular note is the episode "The Golden Age of Ballooning", where the closing credits ran about halfway through the show.
- The next episode, "Michael Ellis", went one step further. The end credits ran immediately after the Title Sequence. That is, less than 30 seconds into the show.
- The episode that started with the "Summarize Proust Competition" sketch rolled the credits right after that sketch.
- Conversely there are episodes in which the opening credits aren't run until more than halfway through.
- After the credits roll in the How Not to be Seen episode a BBC announcer states that the episode would be replayed for those that missed it. After the entire episode is indeed replayed in a highly compressed format, the credits are allowed to roll for a second time.
- Crosscast Role: All the Pythons dress up as women at least once. Terry Jones and Graham Chapman specialized in squeaky-voiced elderly ratbags, whereas Michael Palin and Eric Idle portrayed rather convincing middle-aged women, and John Cleese and Terry Gilliam were simply bizarre.
- Subverted in the "Piranha Brothers" sketch. So used are we at this point to seeing the Pythons as women that it comes as a bit of a shock when John Cleese, playing a gangster's moll, announces: "Dinsdale was a gentleman. And what's more, he knew how to treat a female impersonator".
- Frequent contributor Carol Cleveland, who was dubbed Carol Cleavage by the team, remarked that whenever they had written something for a female character that they thought was funny, they'd almost invariably play that character themselves, whereas if they gave it to her... well, she called herself the "glamour stooge".
- Cultural Translation: A few sketches were redone by the German comedy duo of Harald Juhnke and Eddi Arent. The one sketch about the difficult book shop customernote gets a justification tacked on: Because the salesman's mother owns the shop and has threatened him that she'll disinherit him and give the shop to his brother if he doesn't manage to sell at least one book — that's the explanation why he puts up with the customer neither being able to pay for the book nor to read it. And the famous "Dead Parrot" sketch becomes... brace yourself... upped to eleven (this was probably the intention) with the dead parrot replaced by a plush parrot. And at the end, when the customer points out that the "parrot" he bought is "just a toy", the salesman states philosophically "Aren't we all but God's toys, somehow?", turning around and revealing that he's a wind-up android.
- Deadpan Snarker: Eric Praline. One of the few examples that combines this with Cloudcuckoolander.
- Decoy Protagonist: Turned Up to Eleven with "Up Your Pavement", which starts by elaborately introducing two cheerful hoboes who then immediately get run over by crime fighter Alex Diamond, who suffers from lumbago which is treated by Dr Koning, whose doorbell was above Rear Admiral De Vere, whose daughter helped uncover the secrets of the Royal Arsenal Women's College, which is being spied on by Len Hanky, hen-teaser; then the sketch is briefly going to be about the chairman of Fiat before being derailed via a hurricane of Decoy Protagonists until it ends up being about RAF fighter pilots.
- Also used in the Science Fiction Sketch, which opens on the "perfectly ordinary" Mr and Mrs Samuel Brainsample, before the narrator declares that nothing interesting is going to happen to them and instead focusing on a passing man who winds up getting turned into a Scotsman by alien blancmanges as part of a plan to win Wimbledon. The remainder of the sketch focuses on Charles, an anthropologist, and Angus Podgorny, a Scottish tailor. Until the very end, when the Brainsamples return to save the day by eating the blancmanges.
- Derailed for Details: Common. Just in the Dennis Moore sketch, John Cleese gets lost in discussions about his target practice, British botany, European history, human anatomy and Not Actually the Ultimate Question while trying to rob some nobles.
- Deranged Animation: Terry Gilliam, full stop.
- Didn't Think This Through:
- Eric Idle played a Scotsman who stormed into an airplane cockpit, leading to this exchange:Scotsman: There's a bomb on board this plane, and I'll tell you where it is for £1,000.
Co-pilot: I don't believe you.
Scotsman: If you don't tell me where the bomb is... if I don't give you the money... Unless you give me the bomb—
Flight Attendant: The money?
Scotsman: — the money, thank you, pretty lady — the bomb will explode, killing everybody.
Co-pilot: Including you.
Scotsman: I'll tell you where it is for a pound.
- John Cleese is a masked bank robber who realises too late that he's robbing a lingerie shop:Robber: Well, um ... what have you got?
Assistant: [politely] Er, we've got corsets, stockings, suspender belts, tights, bras, slips, petticoats, knickers, socks and garters, sir.
Robber: Fine, fine, fine, fine. No large piles of money in safes?
Assistant: No, sir.
Robber: No deposit accounts?
Assistant: No sir.
Robber: No piles of cash in easy to carry bags?
Assistant: None at all, sir.
Robber: No luncheon vouchers?
Assistant: No, sir.
Robber: Fine, fine. Well, um... adopt, adapt and improve. Just a pair of knickers then please.
- Eric Idle played a Scotsman who stormed into an airplane cockpit, leading to this exchange:
- Dirty Commies: One Eric Idle monologue sketch is of an etiquette specialist discussing what to do if your dinner party is interrupted by a Communist insurrection.
- The Disease That Shall Not Be Named:
- Like so:There once was an enchanted Prince, who lived beyond the wobbles.
One day he noticed a spot on his face.
Foolishly he ignored it and three years later died of GANGRENE.
- The original line was "cancer", spoken with the same voice. The female, English-accented narrator is deliberately badly overdubbed by the male, American-accented Terry Gilliam for the word "gangrene".
- And Now For Something Completely Different redoes the cartoon and keeps "cancer".
- On Gilliam's disc of the the Monty Python's Personal Best DVD compilation, the word "cancer" is skillfully edited back into the TV version using the audio from the film.
- The "Conquistador Coffee Campaign" sketch also got censored, because of its reference to cancer.
- Like so:
- The Ditz: The Gumbys.
- Don't Explain the Joke: Take your pick.
- Drop the Cow: Holy Grail is the Trope Namer, but Flying Circus still had 16-ton weights, giant hammers, and a knight with a chicken.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Monty Python's very first U.S. exposure was on the 1974 NBC summertime series Comedyworld, which highlighted international comedy acts. They showed the Irving O. Seltzer sketch.
- Election Day Episode: The "Election Night Special" Sketch, naturally. The voters turn out to decide between the Sensible Party and the Silly Party, with the Slightly Silly Party and the Very Silly Party also running in some districts. The Silly Party wins most of the districts, though one Sensible candidate wins by one vote. All in all, it ends with "more years of silly government."
- Engagement Challenge: In the second of the German episodes, in order to win the hand of Princess Mitzy, her suitors were required by her father to climb to the tallest tower in the castle, armed only with a sword, and throw themselves out the window. Until the Queen pointed out that the region was running out of princes, and forced the king to change it to running down to the shops to get a pack of Rothmans. Then a second prince stole away the engagement by slaying a (wooden) dragon and claiming the Standard Hero Reward. At which point the original prince called in his evil witch stepmother to reclaim the engagement, and she cursed everyone in the kingdom to be turned into chickens. Including herself. At which point the kingdom was raided by chicken prospectors.
- Eureka Moment: In the Philosophers' Football Match, we get a literal "Eureka!" moment from Archimedes, who suddenly realizes that he is in a football match and shouts it to the heavens, before starting a quick attack in the dying minutes of the game that allows Socrates to score the match-winner.
- Everything Explodes Ending: One of the many ways they Drop the Cow.
- Everything's Better with Penguins:
- One on the telly (that explodes).
- A giant one with electrified tentacles.
- Plus the penguins who are smarter than BBC programme planners.
- Everything Is an Instrument: The Musical Mice sketch.
- Fan Disservice: Especially in the third season, with a nude organist playing a little fanfare before the opening titles.
- The episode "How to Recognize Different Parts of the Body" started with a lineup of beautiful women in bikinis, leading to John Cleese and the It's Man, also in bikinis.
- In the "Dull Life Of A City Stockbroker" sketch, a bare-breasted woman is one of the merchants.
- Insurance agent Ron Devious sells a vicar a car insurance policy that includes a "free nude lady"; when the vicar leaves Devious' office, he takes with him a shopping trolley that has a naked girl sitting in it.
- Subverted in a few cases. In "And now, a bit of fun," a busty blonde woman does a striptease, but the footage is sped up so fast it's very difficult to actually see anything. "Scott of the Sahara" has a topless Carol Cleveland running on a beach, but is only shown from behind.
- Also subverted with the "Full-frontal nudity" episode. Things keep getting in the way...
- This was Carol Cleveland's primary role for most of her appearances on the show. As she explained it, the Python's used her (and Connie Booth) for roles that required an actual woman, not a man in a dress.
- No we never do meet Mr. Belpit, nor do we find out why his legs are so swollen.
- The title character of the episode "Michael Ellis". An animated television biologist calls the main character "Mr. Ellis", but the end of the sketch shows he's not Michael Ellis.
- Felony Misdemeanor: Frequently mocked, particularly in the Dirty Fork sketch.
- Fighting Irish: "Bookshop Sketch": 101 Ways to Start a Fight by "an Irish gentleman whose name eludes me."
- Finishing Each Other's Sentences: "Exact-" "Ly."
- "G-" "-oo-" "-d..." "E-" "-ven-" "ing!"Professor: Our only clue is this portion of wolf's clothing which the killer sheep-
Random Viking: -WAS WEARING-
Professor: -in yesterday's raid on Selfridges.
- Random Vikings appeared in a few sketches.Presenter: What is the attitude-
Random Viking: -of the man in the street towards-
Presenter: -this growing social phenomenon?
- "G-" "-oo-" "-d..." "E-" "-ven-" "ing!"
- Getting Hot in Here: Done twice.
- In one intro, a woman in her apartment used the line and stripped, she got to her bra when John Cleese entered the frame to start the show.
- In another sketch, after Ramsay Mac Donald is re-elected Prime Minister he returns to 10 Downing Street, says the line, and strips, showing that he's wearing women's underwear.
- Giant Foot of Stomping: A Trope Codifier (animation-wise, anyway).
- "It's got a nice woody sound, 'gooooorn'."
- "Salad Days"
- Actual gorn shows up in the films — there's a delicious bit in which Gilliam is graphically disemboweled by Graham Chapman.
- Gossipy Hens: The Pepperpots
- Gratuitous French:
- Often shows up in the original series and, on occasion, the movies.
- In the Italian dub of And Now For Something Completely Different, the line "What's all this, then?" from "Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook" is translated to... "Bonjour!"
- Groin Attack: A nun kicks a policeman in the groin and Inspector Leopard knees a policeman in the 'nads.
- Hair-Trigger Sound Effect:
- For the love of god, whatever you do, don't say anything about the fact that you're not expecting the Spanish Inquisition. (DRAMATIC STING) NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!
- "Did you say 'mattress' to Mr. Lambert?"
- Happiness Is Mandatory: The fairy-tale kingdom of Happy Valley. The subjects were always happy all the time because, by royal decree, anyone who wasn't happy would be put to death. One subject whose wife had just died is seen being arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to hang by the neck until he cheers up.
- Hats Off to the Dead: The policemen chanting laments for the inspector who recovers the Funniest Joke in the World from the Scribbler apartment doff their helmets when the inspector dies laughing.
- Hidden Depths: The Pepperpots. Despite supposedly being squeaky voiced caricatures of lower middle class housewives; they always show an enormous amount of knowledge of history, philosophy and art (one sketch concerned an argument about the real meaning of Jean Paul Sartre's work; apparently they were on first name terms with his wifenote ).
- Historical-Domain Character: The show is infamous for using celebrities from history in their sketches, often in a nonsensical context, such as Cardinal Richelieu, Attila the Hun, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, William Shakespeare, Adolf Hitler, George III, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, James Whistler, Queen Victoria, Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin, The Brothers Montgolfier, Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar, Ludwig van Beethoven,... and these are just the famous ones. References to more obscure people also occur.
- Horrorscope: In one sketch, a pair of Pepperpots read the daily horoscope; Scorpio is, "You will have lunch with a schoolfriend of Duane Eddy's, who will insist on whistling some of Duane's greatest instrumental hits. In the afternoon you will die, you will be buried..."
- How Did That Get in There?:
- An old woman is showing a young woman pictures of Uncle Ted at various places around the house, mixed in with them is the completely unexpected picture of the Spanish inquisition hiding behind the coal shed.
- In the Not At All Naughty Chemist's note Sketch, the customer is looking for a "fishy" cologne; the chemist checks his stock of colognes and finds "parrot" mixed in with the mackerel, cod and hake.
- Hypocritical Humor: Shows up constantly, though none more so in the Argument Clinic sketch where the actors in said sketch are accused of taking part in a sketch with intent of inflicting grievous mental confusion. It's later lampshaded when the policeman who comes in to arrest them for this is himself arrested for the same crime. A fourth policeman is briefly seen before the sketch ends (possibly due to Reality-Breaking Paradox).
- I Am Not Shazam:
- This was almost averted since Michael Palin's original idea was to call it "Gwen Dibley's Flying Circus" after a neighbor of his named Gwen Dibley, because, he reasoned, wouldn't it be great to give someone their own TV show without them knowing about it?
- Played with in the 30th Anniversary Special, when Idle presents a mock biography of the non-existent Mr. Python.
- Further played with in the playbills for Spamalot, which include a small bio for Monty Python in the "Cast & Crew Bios" section. The bio presents him as a faceless Man Behind the Man who secretly runs the troupe from the shadows, but admits outright that nobody knows if he even exists."Is he God or Godot, an agent of the devil or an agent of the William Morris Agency, or is he, as some have argued, a fictitious character invented in 1969 by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin in a desperate attempt to find a title for their rather silly TV show?"
- I Ate WHAT?!: A sketch where someone thought they were tasting wine, but was actually "wee-wee", was nixed by the BBC.
- Idiosyncratic Wipes: Scenes separated by long, animated sequences.
- I'm a Humanitarian: "Royal Episode 13" has two back-to-back cannibalism sketches, the second one incited a (staged) riot from the audience.
- A sailor gets caught eating a human leg in the "Expedition to Lake Pahoe" sketch.
- Inanimate Competitor: Partway through the 127th Annual Upper-Class Twit of the Year Show, crowd favorite Oliver St. John-Mollusc somehow manages to run himself over with his own car. This does not automatically disqualify him. However, it does put him at the disadvantage of coming last.Commentator: Oh! There's Oliver, he's dead, though he's not necessarily out of it!
- The "Face the Press" sketch is a debate between the Minister for Home Affairs and a small patch of brown liquid "which could be creosote or some extract used in industrial varnishing."
- The "Is There?" sketch is a discussion about the question of life after death, in which everyone but the host is dead.
- Incoming Ham:"NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!"
- Inflationary Dialogue: In the camel-spotting and Spanish Inquisition sketches.
- Inherently Funny Words:
- Spam, spam, spam, spam....
- Lemon curry?
- Eric Idle at one point gives a voice-over regarding a prohibition on "getting cheap laughs with words like knickers, bum, or wee-wees".
- Insane Troll Logic: The driving theme of many a situation. For example, the confectioner who uses raw baby frog in his "Crunchy Frog" chocolate, bones and all. Of course the frog isn't deboned; it wouldn't be crunchy if it was.
- Insistent Terminology:
- S. Frog (Shut up!) from the Conquistador Coffee Campaign sketch.
- Ferdinand von Zeppelin's flying machine is not a balloon; it's an airship!
- Instrumental Theme Tune / Public Domain Theme Tune: "The Liberty Bell March", by John Philip Sousa. Today, it is inextricably linked to the Pythons.
- It Makes Sense in Context: Subverted; usually it still doesn't make sense.
- Japanese Ranguage:
- "Erizabeth L"
- Graham Chapman's "bingo-crazed Chinaman" character in "The Cycling Tour" has a problem pronouncing "Cornwall" because of this. In fact, it's safe to say Chapman loved using this trope.
- Job Song: Parodied in "The Lumberjack Song", which starts out as a song by a group of lumberjacks about their job, but then one of them uses the song to admit to dressing as a woman.
- Judicial Wig: All sketches taking place in a courtroom have the judge wearing one. Justified, since this is Britain.
- Just Like Making Love: The Bruces claim that American beer is like making love in a canoe: it's fucking close to water. (From their "Live at the Hollywood Bowl" film)
- Just the Introduction to the Opposites: The gang of grannies, the "working-class playwright" and his estranged miner son.
- Lampshaded Double Entendre: "A nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat!"
- Lampshade Hanging: And plenty of it. After each punchline in the Conquistador Coffee sketch, for example, the characters hold up a sign that says "JOKE".
- During the Architect Sketch, one of the models ignites into flame with SATIRE flashing on the screen.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo:
- The Pythons didn't think to get permission from DC Comics for using Superman as part of the "Bicycle Repair Man" sketch, and worried afterward. No lawsuit was forthcoming (possibly due to Fair Use by way of parody/satire, and because the sketch did no harm to the brand).
- Also, SPAM. Hormel, the makers of Spam, didn't mind the use and even advertise their wonderful Spam using the Python Spam references.
- Left the Background Music On:
- One sketch starts with a slow pan over the sea, rushing against the seaside cliffs, accompanied by Felix Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture, but the music suddenly starts skipping...as the camera pans a bit further to reveal a gramophone sitting on the grass.
- The Cheese Shop sketch has John Cleese's character entering said shop to the sound of the sound of folk music, and actually passes one man playing a bouzouki inside the shop, while two other men are dancing to the music. Cleese's character is at first bemused by this, but eventually he pauses his conversation with the shop-owner and shouts for the assembly to "SHUT THAT BLOODY DANCING UP!"
- Look Both Ways
- In one intro, the It's Man tries to cross a street, but has to dodge to avoid several cars; he makes it to the other side, and is knocked over by a woman with a baby carriage.
- There was also a vox pop segment where the interviewer tries to get an opinion from a "man in the street", who is promptly run over.
- Lovely Assistant:
- The Amazing Mystico and Janet put up housing blocks by hypnosis. (Janet is the Lovely Assistant.)
- Similarly, The Amazing Kargol (who is also a psychiatrist) and Janet show up in the Mouse sketch.
- In the sketch "Prejudice", the Lovely Assistant Carol presents the winning entries for a contest to find a derogatory term for the Belgians.
- The Mafia: Luigi Vercotti, occasionally accompanied by his brother Dino Vercotti; they tried the Shame If Something Happened routine on an army colonel, and he also ran a Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club in the "Piranha Brothers" sketch.
- Major Injury Underreaction: Zigzagged in "You're No Fun Anymore."
- A sailor on a ship reacts with the title line when his flogging is through.
- During the board meeting segment of the sketch, Michael Palin's character is an accountant who proclaims his firm has made a total of a shilling in the last fiscal year, and upon further questioning, that five pence of a further sixpence went to taxes, leaving him a penny short. Under pressure, he admits that he embezzeled the penny. John Cleese's character has this reaction: "You naughty person."
- Mandatory Line: "But it's my only line!"
- Medium Awareness
- Medium Realization starting at 4:23 of the "Argument Clinic".
- There's also the Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things: "Good lord! I'm on film. How did that happen?"
- In the sketch titled "The Silliest Sketch We've Ever Done", at the end the actors just stop, remark to each other that it's the silliest sketch they've ever done, call it off, and walk off the set.
- The end of the phonograph record version of "The Piranha Brothers": "Sorry, squire, I scratched the record." (click) "Sorry, squire, I scratched the record." (click) "Sorry, squire..."
- The opening of Monty Python's Previous Record ("NOT THIS RECORD!")
- The end of the "Crunchy Frog" sketch:Policeman: I shall have to ask you to accompany me to the station!
Mr. Hilton: (Aside Glance) It's a fair cop...
Policeman: And don't talk into the camera!
- Medium Blending: Terry Gilliam's cartoon segments. There were even a few moments when the animation was split-screened with live-action scenes. Gilliam himself appeared in one particular segment. He starts out by explaining how he usually does the animation, complete with a shot of his hands holding the animated cardboard characters, before realizing the segment is already running, at which point he himself appears on-screen to apologize.
- Mister Strangenoun: The show was littered with oddly named characters like Mr. Anchovy. Sketches about two women would have pairs of complementary names of this sort, such as Mrs. Thing and Mrs. Entity, Mrs. Premise and Mrs. Conclusion, or Mrs. Gorilla and Mrs. Nongorilla.
- Motor Mouth: Michael Palin as the host of "Spectrum"."Tonight 'Spectrum' examines the whole question of frothing and falling, coughing and calling, screaming and bawling, walling and stalling, galling and mauling, palling and hauling, trawling and squalling and zalling. Zalling? Is there a word zalling? If there is what does it mean...if there isn't what does it mean? Perhaps both. Maybe neither. What do I mean by the word mean? What do I mean by the word word, what do I mean by what do I mean, what do I mean by do, and what do I do by mean? What do I do by do by do and what do I do by wasting your time like this? Goodnight."
— And then some adenoidal typists from Birmingham with diarrhoea and flabby white legs and hairy bandy-legged wop waiters called Manuel, and then, once a week there's an excursion to the local Roman ruins where you can buy cherryade and melted ice cream and bleedin' Watney's Red Barrel, and one night they take you to a local restaurant with local colour and colouring and they show you there and you sit next to a party of people from Rhyl who keeps singing 'Torremolinos, Torremolinos' and complaining about the food - 'Oh! It's so greasy isn't it?' and then you get cornered by some drunken greengrocer from Luton with an Instamatic and Dr Scholl sandals and last Tuesday's 'Daily Express' and he drones on and on and on about how Mr. Smith should be running this country and how many languages Enoch Powell can speak and then he throws up all over the Cuba Libres—
- Eric Idle in the Mr. Hilter sketch, and most famously in Watney's Red Barrel, when he will not stop. The live version at the Hollywood Bowl is even better and spans several sketches.
- Ms. Fanservice
- Mugging the Monster: A pedestrian reveals multiple arms to defeat a mugger.
- Multiarmed And Dangerous: See Mugging the Monster above.
- Mundane Made Awesome: BICYCLE REPAIRMAN! And others—the show loved this trope.
- Dinsdale Piranha is incredibly violent but his brother Doug is far more terrifying because he used...sarcasm.Luigi Vercotti: [visibly shaken] He knew all the tricks — dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and satire.
- The The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief featured an entire sketch of Mundane Made Awesome: file clerk Ralph Mellish goes to work and despite Michael Palin's awesomely dramatic narration and appropriately epic/sinister music, Mellish can't help noticing that there is no evidence whatsoever of any web of crime and intrigue which he might be drawn into, because there isn't one; his secretary doesn't notice any "tiny but tell-tale bloodstains" on his clothing, because there aren't any; Ralph doesn't end up in court because he hasn't done anything; in fact, precisely because nothing happened, Mellish doesn't end up "like all those who challenge the fundamental laws of our society: in an iron coffin with spikes on the inside."
- Mr. and Mrs. Norris' Ford Popular, a day-long trip presented as an expedition looking for prehistoric migrations.
- "Blood, Devastation, Death, War, and Horror" has a series of animals fighting (seal vs seal, limpet vs limpet, ant vs wolf, culminating in famous documentary filmmakers brawling) set to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.
- "Good evening and welcome to another edition of Storage Jars!"
- One filmed segment of an official ceremony, complete with grandstand full of dignitaries and ribbon-cutting, to dedicate...a postbox. Including Michael Palin reading out a speech, repeating the speech in French, and starting to repeat it in German before the sketch finally ends.
- Dinsdale Piranha is incredibly violent but his brother Doug is far more terrifying because he used...sarcasm.
- My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: The team took a lot of shots at the British class system, most memorably in the "Upper Class Twit Of The Year" sketch. The British military also got mocked a lot.
- Naked People Are Funny: Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones as the Nude Organist, Graham Chapman belly dancing, Michael Palin as Ramsay Mac Donald stripping to reveal lingerie, and Terry Jones performing a striptease. Twice.
- Newscaster Cameo: BBC anchor Richard Baker turns up in a few scenes, more than happy to go along with the gag in play.
- No Ending:
- Many, many sketches and shows end without a punchline, or any sort of resolution at all. Often by having The Colonel show up and disrupt things for being too silly. They are the essence of Surrealism.
- At one point, the police showed up out of nowhere and arrested everyone for violations against the 'Getting out of sketches without using a proper punchline' act, since just about every skit in the episode had ended with the police showing up out of nowhere and arresting everyone.
- No Fourth Wall: Too many to list, but here's one example of many to give an idea (from the Hungarian Phrasebook sketch): "If there's any more stock film of women applauding I shall clear the court!"
- No Indoor Voice:
- The Gumbys.
- John Cleese is also quite an accomplished shouter.
- The Pepperpots, the waitress in the "Spam" sketch included.
- Nonindicative Name:
- "Blood, Devastation, Death, War and Horror" is a lighthearted chat show which features a man who speaks entirely in anagrams.Host (Michael Palin): Hello, good evening, and welcome to another edition of Blood, Devastation, Death, War, and Horror. And later on we'll be meeting a man who actually does gardening.
- By contrast, "Ethel the Frog" is a very serious news magazine programme.
- "Blood, Devastation, Death, War and Horror" is a lighthearted chat show which features a man who speaks entirely in anagrams.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: In the "Village Idiot" sketch, it's revealed that all village idiots are actually quite erudite when no one else is around; they just babble nonsense and fall off walls because it amuses the tourists and provides "a vital psychosocial role" in giving others someone to look down upon.
- Ode to Food: The Spam Song is about a restaurant which only serves food containing spam, populated by a group of spam-loving Vikings who pound the table and chant, "Spam! Wonderful spam!".
- Oktoberfest: This trope was satirized to death (and then some) by the "Bavarian Restaurant" sketch.
- Ironically enough, made on location for German television.
- Old-Fashioned Copper: A favoured target of satire. Constable Pan-Am, from the ending of the Chemists sketch, for one.
- Once for Yes, Twice for No: The sketch in which a coffin is called as a witness. In Pleasure at her Majesty's, the film of the first ever Amnesty International "Secret Policeman's Ball", the backstage footage shows Peter Cook (who stood in for Eric Idle as the defendant) pointing out to John Cleese (the defense counsel) that at one point he asked the coffin a question without a yes-or-no answer: "Mr. Aldridge, are you thinking or are you just dead?"
- Only Sane Man
- Inverted. If anything, John Cleese was the Least Insane Man.
- In-show, the Colonel often tries to act as this by stopping sketches before they become too 'silly'.
- Oop North: Northern English stereotypes - turned on their ears, of course - figure quite prominently in several sketches.
- In "Our Ken" from the Series 1 episode "Sex and Violence", Graham Chapman and Terry Jones play a seemingly typical working-class Northern couple whose RP-accented son Ken (Eric Idle) has returned to visit them, only to face his father's disapproval for his career path. However, the father turns out to be a successful London playwright (who has sudden attacks of writer's cramp), while Ken has defied him to work in the coal mines in Yorkshire.
- The first "Spanish Inquisition" sketch opens when Graham Chapman delivers a line about "trouble at t' mill" in a heavy Northern accent to Carol Cleveland... only to have to repeat it several times to make himself understood. He ultimately drops the Northern accent and starts speaking in his normal RP accent, and finally admits he has no idea what the line "One of the cross-beams has gone out askew on the treadle" means anyway.
- Overly Long Gag: Another technique they helped pioneer."Number one: the larch. The... larch. The... larch. And now... number one... the larch."
- And then in the credits...
- The very first Monty Python gag the world encountered was of the overly long variety, namely the "It's..." man crawling out of the ocean to introduce the show.
- The Cheese Shop sketch was one very long gag...
- The full name of "X Gambolputty... of Ulm" is said no less than 7 times during the opening "It's the Arts" sketch of episode 6, twice of which are said by an old man who takes twice as long as any other character to say it. The majority of the sketch is just characters saying the name.
- Overly Long Name: A regular occurrance in the series.
Election Official: Malcolm Peter Brian Telescope Adrian Umbrella Stand Jasper Wednesday (pops mouth twice) Stoatgobbler John Raw Vegetable (sound of horse whinnying) Arthur Norman Michael (blows squeaker) Featherstone Smith (blows whistle) Northgot Edwards Harris (fires pistol, which goes 'whoop') Mason Chuffchuffchuff Frampton Jones Fruitbat Gilbert (sings) 'We'll keep a welcome in the' (three shots, stops singing) Williams If I Could Walk That Way Jenkin (squeaker) Tiger-drawers Pratt Thompson (sings) 'Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head' Darcy Carter (horn) Pussycat 'Don't Sleep In The Subway' Barton Mannering (hoot, 'whoop') Smithnote .
- The cream of the crop comes from the "Election Night" sketch (and the Very Silly Party):
- Why is it that the world never remembered the name of Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein von Knacker-thrasher-applebanger-horowitz-ticolensic- grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumblemeyer--spelterwasser-kurstlich-himbleeisen-bahnwagen-gutenabend-bitte-ein-nürnburger-bratwustle-gerspurten-mitz-weimache-luber-hundsfut-gumberaber-shönedanker-kalbsfleisch-mittler-aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm?
- One of the girls assisting in the Upper-Class Twit of the Year Competition is named Lady Sarah Pencil Farthing Vivian Streamroller Adams Pie Biscuit Aftershave Gore Stringbottom Smith.
- The Performer King: King Otto of Happy Valley in the German special Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus spends all day in his castle jamming on his electric piano and Scatting. He would have his subjects sing with him at random gatherings and eventually played the pipe organ at his daughter's wedding.
- Pirate Parrot: Seen in several sketches, including one with Long John Silver impersonators playing football.
- Planet of Steves
- The Bruces.
- There was an incredible number of people named Arthur, and an even greater number named Ken or Eric.
- In the "Fish License" sketch, Eric Praline (one of the recurring characters, most known for being the customer in the Dead Parrot sketch) argues with another apparently called Eric. It also turns out that all of his pets are called Eric, and he carries around books documenting the same thing with other people in case people would call him a loony for it.
- Whicker Island.
- Please Wake Up: Inverted and Played for Laughs. The disgruntled customers attempts to wake up his parrot are aimed at disproving the shopkeepers claims that the parrot is asleep, not dead.
- Police are Useless: One of the Pythons' favourite targets was the British Police. Almost every policeman is stupid and/or insane. A good example is the sketch "I Wish To Report A Burglary." Someone goes to the police station to report a burglary, but due to some issues, Hilarity Ensues as he is shuffled from officer to officer, all along the while being asked to make his report in different vocal registers.
- I'm sorry, I can't read this, sir. Could you try it in a different font?
- CALLING ALL SQUAD CARS IN THE AREA!!!!!
- One sketch is about the Olympic Hide-and-Seek finals.
- One of the German specials features the Silly Olympics, an event held traditionally every 3.7 years, with events such as the 100-meter dash for people with no sense of direction, the 1500 meter dash for the deaf (who fail to go because they can't hear the starting gun), the freestyle swim race for people who can't swim ("we'll return to this event as soon as all the corpses are fished out") and the cross-country race for incontinents (who break away every five seconds to relieve themselves on the roadside).
- Pursue the Dream Job:
- A barber gives it all up to become a lumberjack. He has a hair phobia and he never really wanted to be a barber anyway.
- A chartered accountant wants to pursue a career as a lion tamer, but he is discouraged from doing that by a vocation guidance counsellor, who says his aptitude test shows he's perfectly suited for a career in chartered accountancy. Sadly, his ideas about lions are also quite twisted.
- Rail Enthusiast: Two appearances, first the "Camel Spotting" sketch (in which camels are numbered, just above the cylinder box) and a murder mystery that quickly devolves into an extended discussion of trivia about railway timetables, which it turns out was written by one Neville Shunt. In the latter case, the trainspotter is played by Michael Palin, who is one of these in Real Life (indeed, Palin's first travel documentary was "Confessions of a Trainspotter").
- Reading Ahead in the Script: In several episodes characters would read the script to find out what was going on or what they (or another character) were supposed to do.
- Real Song Theme Tune: That rousing marching-band music comes courtesy of "The Liberty Bell" (aka "Liberty Bell March") by John Philip Sousa. Not including the splatty noise that cuts off the music, of course.
- Recurring Characters: Oddly enough, there are a few, including gangster Luigi Vercotti (Michael Palin) and Eric Praline (John Cleese) who attempts to buy a fish license, attempts to return a pet parrot for having died, and arrests Terry Jones for making disgusting confections. Palin also plays a number of smarmy television hosts who are quite similar.
- Recurring Extra: In the first season a knight in armor would knock various characters over the head with a dead chicken at least once in every episode.
- Reference Overdosed: Zillions of historical and cultural references, especially funny to intellectuals. Apart from that there are also a lot of references to British TV shows, politicians and musicians that are not always that clear to foreign audiences. As Time Marches On many references to 1960s and 1970s events also become obscure.
- For instance, the "How To Do It?" sketch is a parody of the BBC children's show Blue Peter.
- The "Election Night Special" sketch is even more funny if you know something about how the way BBC TV broadcasts news about elections.
- The "Whicker's World" sketch where every inhabitant on a tropical island is a similarly looking journalist is a direct reference to journalist Alan Whicker who indeed had a similarly titled talk show and travel program.
- In "The Ministry of Silly Walks" sketch one of the characters in the silent film Cleese shows is not just a random character wearing a high hat and long pointy shoes, but a direct reference to British music hall comedian Little Tich.
- The "RAF Banter Sketch" is very incomprensible to anyone who never saw an old British war movie where many soldiers indeed talk in a way that resembles Palin and Idle's dialogue in this sketch.
- Refuge in Audacity: Actually instead of taking refuge, they seemed to have moved into audacity, built a nice little bungalow, and regularly invite people over for tea.
- Rule of Funny
- Until they get stopped for being silly by the Colonel.
- Or the Knight with a Chicken comes to slap someone.
- Or the 16-ton weight drops on someone.
- Or Terry Gilliam as a boxer punches out the person talking (happened a couple of times).
- Rule of Three: The Spanish Inquisition appeared three times, the Bishop theme was played (or at least started) three times, the "piston engine" gag was done three times in a row, and "Mr. Neutron" started with the post office commissioning a new postal box with a speech in English, French, and German.
- Running Gag: Quite a few, the most well-known of which is probably, "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" This particular gag subverts itself at the end of the episode, when it has become so routine for the Inquisition to appear when someone says they weren't expecting them that, well, everyone is expecting them to, but they're stuck in traffic so they can't arrive on cue.
- Scaling the Summit:
- In the "Mountaineering Sketch" a man plans an expedition to the "dual peaks" of Mount Kilimanjaro - except there is only one peak. He has double vision.
- In "Climbing the North Face of Uxbridge Road" a TV Documentary crew cover a team of mountaineers "ascending" a common London street. They act as if they're climbing a steep, treacherous mountain, but meanwhile pedestrians walk past as normal. At the end of the sketch the lead climber loses his "grip" and "falls" down the street, pulling down his fellow climbers with him.
- The Scottish Trope: By way of Spain, anyway. "NOBODY expects The Spanish Inquisition!"
- And don't say "mattress" to a certain mattress salesman.
- Sdrawkcab Name: Notlob. First mentioned in the "Dead Parrot" sketch as the palindrome of Bolton, then a news reader says "Notlob" when he meant to say "Bolton", and later there was a Mr. Notlob who went to a psychiatrist when he heard folk music wherever he went.
- They got David Hamilton, who was working for Thames (a rival TV station) to dish out this beauty:David Hamilton: Good evening. We've got an action-packed evening for you tonight on Thames, but right now here's a rotten old BBC programme.
- Also, this bit, which also leans on the Fourth Wall:Cleese (narrating): Number 29, the interior of a country house.
Cleese (on camera): That's not a part of the body.
Cleveland: No, it's a link, though.
Chapman: I don't think it was very good.
Cleese: No, it's the end of the series, they must be running out of ideas.
- They got David Hamilton, who was working for Thames (a rival TV station) to dish out this beauty:
- Shaped Like Itself: The Oxford Dictionary defines the word "pythonesque" as "after the style of or resembling the absurdist or surrealist humor of Monty Pythons Flying Circus, a British television comedy series (196974)".
Palin: If you've enjoyed watching this show just half as much as we've enjoyed doing it, then we've enjoyed it twice as much as you! Hahaha- (crushed by 16-ton weight)
- An example within the show itself, when Michael Palin closes the "Scott of the Antarctic" episode:
- The "Confess!" segment of the Spanish Inquisition sketch is very similar to a scene in The Prisoner episode "Fall Out".
- In "Silly Election", the exchange "What about the nylon dot cardigan and plastic mule rest? / There's no such thing! / Thank you, Spike!" is a direct Shout-Out to The Goon Show and its creator, Spike Milligan.
- "The Bishop" is a very obvious lampoon of The Saint.
- In the "Buying a Bed" sketch from Series 1, the two eccentric sales assistants played by Eric Idle and Graham Chapman are named Mr. Verity and Mr. Lambert.
- The Big Cheese from "Secret Service Dentists" is a pretty straightforward Bond villain parody.
- Simpleton Voice: The Gumbys all not only speak exclusively with this voice, they bellow it at the top of their lungs."MOY BRAIN HURTS! WE FORGOT... THE ANESTHETIC!"
- Sixth Ranger: Or seventh.
- Carol Cleveland, who was in more sketches than anyone else who wasn't a writer for the show.
- Neil Innes can also make a claim for this title, given that he contributed much of the music for the shows and films and was an indispensable part of the troupe's stage shows.
- Aside from Cleveland, the woman most frequently seen was Cleese's then-wife Connie Booth (she's the woman Michael Palin is holding in the Lumberjack Song). She'd be even more important to Fawlty Towers, which she co-wrote with Cleese and in which she played Polly.
- Not to mention Eric's then-wife, Lyn Ashley, who was always credited solely as "Mrs Idle".
- And then there's Ian Davidson, who made guest appearances in almost every episode of the first series.
- Douglas Adams became Graham Chapman's writing partner after John Cleese left in the fourth series and was the only non-Python besides Neil Innes to get a writing credit on the show (for co-writing the "Patient Abuse" sketch). He also appeared in that and a few other sketches.
- Sketch Comedy: The Trope Codifier alongside Saturday Night Live.
- Sliding Scale of Fourth Wall Hardness: Pretty much worn out by the end of the series' run.
- Small Reference Pools: Completely averted. To cite one of many examples: a joke from the very first episode requires the viewer not only to have heard of the painter Toulouse-Lautrec, but to be familiar enough with his disability to be able to identify a caricature of him by sight.
- Smarmy Host: A repeated target. See Palin in the "Blackmail" sketch for a shining example.
- Sommelier Speak: In an infamous lost sketch, a man brings his friend down to his wine cellar for a private tasting. After the visitor describes the various flavors and textures he notices, the man tells him it's "wee-wee." All the wine is wee-wee.
- Speak of the Devil: Look, I'm not expecting the Spanish Inquisition here, okay?"No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!"
"Now put her in... THE COMFY CHAIR!!"
- To a lesser extent, "Secret Service Dentists" mentions the Big Cheese before he shows up towards the end.
- Spy Speak: Played for laughs.
- Stock Footage: One common gag involved cutting to stock footage of a group of middle-aged Women's Institute members smiling approvingly and applauding on the punchline of a sketch, often evoking dissonance by using it with Black Comedy sketches.
- Stuff Blowing Up:
- "The Exploding Version of the Blue Danube" is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- When shooting people just isn't enough in "How Not To Be Seen".
- "Well, it's just gone eight o'clock, and time for the penguin on top of your television set to explode."
- Surreal Humor: Every episode of the show was comprised of at least some of this. The Pythons would frequently lampoon conventions of the day, current BBC affairs, and historical topics of every sort. They would just do it in the most outlandish, bizarre, genre-defying way they could.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial
- The sketch about the Nazi leaders hiding in England had a lot of these:Heinrich Bimmler: I am retired vindow cleaner and pacifist, without doing war crimes.
- And may I take this opportunity of emphasizing that there is no cannibalism in the Royal Navy.
- Luigi Vercotti would like to deny completely that his "high class nightclub for the gentry at Biggleswade" was a "cheap clip joint for pickin' up tarts."
- Sir Brigadier Charles Arthur Strong (Mrs.) has never kissed the editor of the Radio Times.
- The sketch about the Nazi leaders hiding in England had a lot of these:
- Take That!: Numerous.
- Generally assume that a character named "Maudling" is one of these against Reginald Maudling, an MP who was embroiled in financial scandals. The Pythons make frequent mockery of him, though one sketch used him as a springboard to make a tremendous slam against Margaret Thatcher (years before she became Prime Minister or even leader of her party).[Image shows a shin] Cleese: Number Twenty-three: the shin.
[Image shows Reginald Maudling] Cleese: Number Twenty-four: Reginald Maudling's shin. [An arrow points at his shin]
[Image shows a brain] Cleese: Number Twenty-five: the brain.
[Image shows Margaret Thatcher] Cleese: Number Twenty-six: Margaret Thatcher's brain. [An arrow points to her shin. Cue tremendous audience applause.]
- One sketch involved a narcissistic actor named "Timmy Williams", played by Idle, who is constantly distracted in furthering his career from an old friend's desperate pleas for help, to the point where the friend shoots himself and Timmy takes it in stride. This is followed by credits for "The Timmy Williams Show", which - while written "entirely" by Williams - features a list of "contributors" that takes up several seconds, including Ralph Emerson, Burt Ancaster, and Monty Python. This is based largely on the Python's experiences working with David Frost on The Frost Report.
- "Well, I've been in the city for 30 years and I've never once regretted being a nasty, greedy, cold-hearted, avaricious money-grubber... er, Conservative!"
- "The Funniest Joke in the World" has one to Neville Chamberlain's "Peace in our time!" declaration, which the narrator called "Britain's great pre-war joke".
- Generally assume that a character named "Maudling" is one of these against Reginald Maudling, an MP who was embroiled in financial scandals. The Pythons make frequent mockery of him, though one sketch used him as a springboard to make a tremendous slam against Margaret Thatcher (years before she became Prime Minister or even leader of her party).
- Terrible Pick-Up Lines: In the sketch "Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook", most phrases get mistranslated as these.Do you want to come back to my place, bouncy bouncy?If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?Drop your panties, Sir William, I cannot wait until lunchtime!
- The Teaser/Book-Ends: Each episode starts with the "It's Man", either running, swimming or crawling towards the camera from a long distance, or in some dire situation (for example, in the "Face the Press" episode, he's in a cage, presumably in the zoo)) and occasionally with John Cleese sitting behind a desk and saying "And now for something completely different" When he arrives at the camera, he says "It's!" and the opening credits roll - At the end of the show, the "It's Man" will turn and move away from the camera the way he came, or possibly simply be dead (In the above example, nothing is left in the cage but his skeleton) as the closing credits roll.
- That Makes Me Feel Angry:
My goodness me, I am in a bad temper today all right, two, three, damn, damn, two, three, I am vexed and ratty! (shake fists) Two, three, and hopping mad! (stamp feet)
- The men of the Derbyshire Light Infantry's "precision display of bad temper".
- That's All, Folks!:
Well, that's about it for tonight, ladies and gentlemen. But remember, if you've enjoyed watching the show just half as much as we've enjoyed doing it, then we've enjoyed it twice as much as you!
- "Look there's not really a great deal of point in your, sort of hanging on at your end, because I'm afraid there aren't any more jokes or anything."
- Palin at the end of "Scott Of The Antarctic":
- Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five To Go, their farewell show.
- Theme Tune: First movement of Sousa's "Liberty Bell", chosen as it is public domain, to save money. Nowadays, people know it as "The Monty Python Song", and as one of the references to British comedy present in Hogs of War, the Monty Python version of the song (although rearranged) is the main theme of said game.
- There Is No Rule Six: Once again, the Trope Namer. It's also the quote on that page.
- Too Dumb to Live
- The twits from the "Upper Class Twit of the Year Show" take part in an obstacle course involving jumping over a line of matchboxes to waking a sleeping neighbour; the last challenge involves shooting themselves. Honourable mention goes to Oliver St. John-Mollusc who managed to run himself over with his own car.
- Ron Obvious tried to run to Mercury (the planet) at the behest of his manager, Luigi Vercotti. Other exploits attempted include jumping across the English Channel, eating Chichester Cathedral, and digging a tunnel to Java.
- Trope Makers: They coined their own genre, "pythonesque". c.f. "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny.
- Unusual Euphemism: "Semprini"note and the "Nudge Nudge" sketch.
- Verbal Backspace:
- In the Spanish Inquisition's first appearance, Cardinal Ximenez is forced to repeatedly revise the number of their chief weapons as new ones keep occurring to him."Our chief weapon is surprise! Surprise and fear! Fear and surprise- our two weapons are fear and surprise and ruthless efficiency- our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency, and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope- our four- no... amongst our weapons... amongst our weaponry, are such elements as fear, surprise... I'll come in again."
- "This expedition is primarily to investigate reports of cannibalism and necrophilia in- This expeditions is primarily to investigate reports of unusual marine life in the as yet uncharted Lake Paho."
- In the Spanish Inquisition's first appearance, Cardinal Ximenez is forced to repeatedly revise the number of their chief weapons as new ones keep occurring to him.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: The Pythons loved referencing history, arts and culture to an extent that most modern shows would never get away with.
- Vomiting Cop: Live performances of the "Crunchy Frog" sketch had Constable Parrot (Terry Gilliam) vomit into his hat, onstage, after Inspector Praline mentions "Anthrax Ripple," as seen in Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl. After having done so, Praline orders Parrot to put the hat back on — which he does. Cue the vomit sliding down Gilliam's face. note
- When I Was Your Age...: The "Four Yorkshiremen" sketch.
- Where's the Fun in That?:
Hank: Well, I follow the moth in the helicopter to lure it away from the flowers, and then Roy comes along in the Lockheed Starfighter and attacks it with air-to-air missiles.
- The "Mosquito Hunters" sketch:
Roy: A lot of people have asked us why we don't use fly spray. Well, where's the sport in that?
- A sketch about a man going camel-spotting ends with the interviewer noting that, in fact, he's train-spotting, to which the man replies, "Oh, you're no fun anymore." This line is then used by mischievous band members, a woman whose vampiric lover loses his fangs, and a man who undergoes the lash ("Cut him down!" "Oh, you're no fun anymore!") This causes the original to threaten action against anyone else that uses the line, which he acts upon in the next sketch.
- Widget Series: The series established the U.K.'s reputation as a purveyor of weird comedy.
- Wig, Dress, Accent: The best-known example in modern times.
- William Telling: One of the German episodes begins with a William Tell sketch. It has Tell successfully shooting the apple, then the camera zooms out to show his son's body is riddled with arrows from previous attempts.
- Word Salad Title: The team specifically wanted a nonsensical title for the programme and considered several. The runners-up were mostly reused as episode titles for Series 1, such as "The Ant, an Introduction" and "Owl-Stretching Time". One title that was never used in an episode (although it was referenced in "Royal Episode 13") is "The Toad Elevating Moment".
- World of Chaos: Most of their animated interludes are set there.
- Worst News Judgment Ever
- Nationwide decides that the theory that sitting down in a comfortable chair can rest your legs is worth reporting on, instead of the start of World War III.
- While another news programme sent its reporters to scenes of civil war, largely to find out what the military leaders kept in their storage jars.
- You Can Leave Your Hat On: Two episodes involve a rather naughty strip-tease... and both are performed not by lovely ladies, but by a doughy Welshman. With a moustache.
"NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPA — oh, bugger!"