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As many comedians know, it is very hard to make people laugh. Good comedy is a skill, one that not many have. Today, actors use comedy to tackle important but complex issues, poke fun at famous people, and provide an escape from the realities of life.
Monty Python was one of the pioneers of the modern sketch comedy on television. If you love comedy shows like Saturday Night Live, you have Monty Python to thank.
Monty Python is a British comedy group composed of six comedians known as “The Pythons”—Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, and Terry Gilliam, the only American of the six. Together, they came up with a new comedy series. On October 5, 1969, Monty Python’s Flying Circus debuted on BBC1.
The show was very different from other comedies. It was cheeky, offbeat, and daring, but at the same time, funny and smart. The five British comedians acted for most of the show, while Gilliam provided animations.
The sketches of Flying Circus did not follow traditional rules of TV. The opening credits would sometimes run in the middle of the show, and the end credits at times appeared right after the opening credits, confusing viewers.
According to Cleese, they were the first ones to make fun of the Queen and Prime Minister of Britain. It was radical and was seen as disrespectful by some, but the Pythons continued. Their recipe for a good Monty Python sketch seemed to be a generous dose of silliness, with a dash of rule-breaking and an ounce of sarcasm.
Finding Fame in North America
Monty Python toured around England and Canada in the early 70s. Their first movie, And Now for Something Completely Different, was released in 1971. It was just a collection of sketches from Flying Circus that were re-shot to better suit cinema. The original goal of the film was to introduce Monty Python to America, but it still received a strong positive response from the British.
In 1974, Flying Circus was shown in the United States. Americans loved it, drumming up support for the Pythons’ second movie. Monty Python and the Holy Grail was released in 1975 to great responses from both America and Britain.
The low-budget film was funded by several rock groups, including Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd. It was the Pythons’ first original film, and was about the quest of King Arthur to find the Holy Grail. Chapman played King Arthur, and all six Pythons had several other smaller roles aside from their main role.
Today, the film is seen as one of the best comedy films of all time. In fact, the movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a certified “fresh” rating of 97 percent, an impressive grade.
Life of Brian and other feature films
After Cleese left the group sometime in 1973, Flying Circus wrapped up the final season in 1974. They turned their attention to touring, performing in sold-out shows in New York in 1976 after the success of Holy Grail.
Their most notable—and most controversial—movie, Life of Brian, was released in 1979. The film was a lampoon on the New Testament and pokes fun at insincere religious followers.
Though the Pythons agreed not to mock Jesus Christ, as they couldn’t find anything to mock him about, the subject of the movie was still problematic to the producers, and they withdrew funding. Former Beatle George Harrison became their new funder, continuing the “tradition” of music legends bankrolling Monty Python’s films.
Their last two films were Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl in 1982 and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life in 1983. Live at the Hollywood Bowl was a concert movie, and consisted of comedy sketches that the actors performed live for audiences.
Chapman’s death and the Pythons’ later years
The Meaning of Life turned out to be the last film where all six Pythons appeared. In 1989, Chapman died the day before Monty Python’s 20th anniversary. His death effectively ended Monty Python as a group. The Python brand continued to produce merchandise and material in the 90s, while the remaining Pythons pursued their solo careers.
In 2013, Monty Python’s five surviving members announced that they were holding a reunion performance in London. The show attracted thousands of fans, so much so that they had to put on ten shows. The last performance was also broadcasted on television to millions of viewers around the world.
The Python Legacy
Modern comedy owes much to Monty Python and their brand of laughter. Fifty years after their first episode, their influence is still seen in today’s comedy shows. They’ve brought joy and laughter to millions of people all over the world, and their brand will continue on for generations to come.
Here are some of Monty Python’s best quotes to cheer you up and get you through the day:
Monty Python Quotes
“A nod’s as good as a wink to a blind bat, eh?” – Monty Python
“And now for something completely different.” – Monty Python
“Is your wife a…’goer’… eh? Know what I mean? Know what I mean? Nudge nudge. Nudge nudge! Know what I mean? Say no more…Know what I mean?” – Monty Python
“I’m not a Roman mum, I’m a kike, a yid, a heebie, a hook-nose, I’m kosher mum, I’m a Red Sea pedestrian, and proud of it!” – Monty Python
“Our experts describe you as an appallingly dull fellow, unimaginative, timid, lacking in initiative, spineless, easily dominated, no sense of humour, tedious company and irrepressibly drab and awful.” – Monty Python
“You don’t frighten us, English pig dogs. Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called ‘Arthur King,’ you and all your silly English K-nig-hts.” – Monty Python
“Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great. If a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate.” – Monty Python
“Let the heathens spill theirs, on the dusty ground. God shall make them pay, for each sperm that can’t be found.” – Monty Python
“I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK. I sleep all night and I work all day.” – Monty Python
“I cut down trees, I eat my lunch, I go to the lavatory. On Wednesday I go shopping and have buttered scones for tea.” – Monty Python
“We interrupt this program to annoy you and make things generally more irritating.” – Monty Python
“He’s not the Messiah—he’s a very naughty boy!” – Monty Python
“Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!” – Monty Python
“Here are some completely gratuitous pictures of penises to annoy the censors and hopefully spark some sort of controversy.” – Monty Python
“There’s no more work. We’re destitute. I’m afraid I have no choice but to sell you all for scientific experiments.” – Monty Python
“They didn’t have their heads filled with all this Cartesian Dualism!” – Monty Python
“You Americans, all you do is talk, and talk, and say ‘let me tell you something’ and ‘I just wanna say.’ Well, you’re dead now, so shut up!” – Monty Python
“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.” – Monty Python
“There’s nothing wrong with you that an expensive operation can’t prolong.” – Monty Python
“We’re right there with you, Mr. T.F. Gumby. Every time we watch the news, we want to moan ‘My brain huuuurts!’” – Monty Python
“We serve no meat of any kind. We’re not only proud of that, we’re smug about it.” – Monty Python
“Tonight, instead of discussing the existence or non-existence of God, they have decided to fight for it.” – Monty Python
“She’s a witch! Burn her already!” – Monty Python
“It’s just gone eight o’clock and time for the penguin on top of your television set to explode.” – Monty Python
“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!” – Monty Python
“Oh! Now we see the violence inherent in the system! Help, help, I’m being repressed!”- Monty Python
“The medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?” – Monty Python
“It’s passed on! This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late parrot! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch, it would be pushing up the daisies! It’s rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-parrot!” – Monty Python
“There are a great many people in the country today, who through no fault of their own, are sane.” – Monty Python
“Let’s not bicker and argue over who killed who.” – Monty Python
“I’d like to complain about people who constantly hold things up by complaining about people who complain. It’s high time something was done about it!” – Monty Python
“Are you suggesting that coconuts migrate?” – Monty Python
“It’s just a flesh wound.” – Monty Python
“Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.” – Monty Python
“Kilimanjaro is a pretty tricky climb you know, most of its up until you reach the very very top, and then it tends to slope away rather sharply.” – Monty Python
“I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.” – Monty Python
“What… is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?” – Monty Python
“We are the Knights who say… NI.” – Monty Python
“You must cut down the mightiest tree in the forest… WITH… A HERRING!” – Monty Python
“Look, that rabbit’s got a vicious streak a mile wide! It’s a killer!” – Monty Python
“O Knights of Ni, you are just and fair, and we will return with a shrubbery.” – Monty Python
“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!” – Monty Python
“I cut down trees, I skip and jump, I like to press wild flowers. I put on women’s clothing and hang around in bars.” – Monty Python
“My hovercraft is full of eels.” – Monty Python
“Bally Jerry pranged his kite right in the how’s-your-father; hairy blighter, dicky-birded, feathered back on his sammy, took a waspy, flipped over on his Betty Harpers and caught his can in the Bertie.”- Monty Python
“Do you want to come back to my place, bouncy bouncy?” – Monty Python