Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.
Monty Python’s Flying Circus
It all started in 1969 when 5 Oxford and Cambridge graduates (Chapman, Cleese, Idle, Jones, and Palin) and one American, later to become British (Gilliam) joined their brains and created something unseen until that time. They all had more or less experience in writing and performing comedy as well creating animations. It’s important to point out that Terry Gilliam was the one responsible for these “special” animated effects in the series and that the opening theme, “The Liberty Bell” by John Phillip Sousa, was chosen because it was free to use.
That merge of talent in one place resulted in a comedy series (& movies) that had an influence on the British comedy like never before or after them.
They use the flying circus in the name of the group because of the resemblance of the aviation entertainment troops from the 1920s. There were other combinations regarding the name, but this one came as final.
From 1969 to 1974 they filmed the sketch series named “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”. Viewers could enjoy in 45 episodes split into 4 seasons. Almost nobody was spared of mocking so you could see really anything.
Lenin, Mao, host, Che, Marx
There were several occasions where there was a chance that these sketches will never be made. First happened after episode 1, when the BBC controller said that they went “over the edge of what was acceptable”. The second one was less dangerous, but still, it’s great we’ve avoided it. In 1971, all original tapes with episodes were almost taped over as a part of standard procedure. Terry Gilliam prevented that by buying these tapes.
It’s really hard to choose even the list of best sketches, but I’ll go with some of my favorites as well as some that are well known:
- Dead Parrot (episode 8)
- The Funniest Joke in the World (episode 1)
- The Lumberjack Song (episode 9)
- Nudge Nudge (episode 3)
- Spam (episode 25)
- The Ministry of Silly Walks (episode 14)
- Bicycle Repair Man (episode 3)
- Scott of the Sahara (episode 23)
- The Cheese Shop (episode 33).
“Oh look – is it a Stockbroker? Is it a Quantity Surveyor? Is it a Church Warden? No! It’s BICYCLE REPAIR MAN!”
I guess that if you haven’t even seen any of them, you have probably met with some of these terms.
So, let’s start with “Nudge nudge, wink wink”. It’s a good phrase to know if you want to get into somebody’s panties these days. You might not sound that cool and maybe even the “target” won’t know the origin of this phrase, but you never know. Maybe it really works. Try it! 😊
Oh, the beautiful “Spam”. Although the term is not originally theirs, they popularized it and therefore they are the reason why we use this word today. SPAM is short of “SPiced hAM”. It was used by allied troops, American, British and Soviet as the main source of meat. Some find it a wartime specialty while most of the soldiers called it “a ham that failed the physical”. It was a really important factor in winning the war for allies so lets’ see what they say about it.
Margaret Thatcher: “We had some lettuce and tomatoes and peaches, so it was SPAM and salad.”
Nikita Khrushchev: “Without SPAM we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army.”
Needless to say, SPAM is still in production and “use” today.
As you could expect a number nerds and geeks (including me) really love Monty Python. So, this is how computer spamming really started. In the 1980s, when networks were becoming popular, members of the groups would spam newcomers with meaningless text, graphics and the most important quotes from Monty Python’s Spam sketch with the intention to draw them off the chatroom. Later it became an even more geeky when Star Wars fans would invade Star Trek chat rooms in order to spam them.
The “Python” programming language is very popular these days. It’s relatively modern with version 1.0 created by Guido van Rossum released in 1994 (the first appearance was in 1991). Many terms related to Python are named after Monty Python “terms” and even example codes are preferred to use Monty Python quotes instead of e.g. standard “Hello World!”.
They have filmed 5 movies and these are:
- And Now for Something Completely Different (1971)
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
- Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)
- Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982)
- Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983).
Their first movie, And Now for Something Completely Different, had a relatively small budget of £80,000. The idea was to compile sketches from the first two seasons and break into the USA market. It was not so successful in the USA, but it was well received in the UK.
The 1975 Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The storyline is simple – “King Arthur and his knights embark on a low-budget search for the Grail, encountering many, very silly obstacles.” (from imdb.com). It had a much better budget because Pinky Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Elton John jumped in, hoping to make a tax loss. Still, there were a lot of financial problems along the way. These problems limited the ability to shoot on more locations as well to use real horses in the movie. Instead of that, they “faked” horses and horseback riding. Even the white rabbit used in the movie was not theirs and they had problems when returning the rabbit with white fur painted in red color. The movie was a big success and that led to three more movies.
We were blessed in 1979 with the Monty Python’s Life of Brian. It follows the sad story of the next-door stable false messiah. Brian does his best to convince his followers that he’s not a true messiah, but you know how it goes. If they want you to be, you can’t choose. So, he also couldn’t avoid being crucified. Even then he didn’t give up and washed it all away with the “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” song. If you ask me, one of the most optimistic scenes ever shot. It was a box office success and also resulted in many accusations of blasphemy.
The 4th one was the Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl from 1982. It was a concert comedy filmed mostly at their live performance at the Hollywood Bowl.
The last movie, so far, is the Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. They played with the meaning of life explaining everything and nothing in this movie. And they did it in their own style. The movie itself wasn’t such a box office success, but I still find it more than entertaining.
Some Additional Geeky Stuff
Some other geeky stuff named after Monty Python are:
- “Indy” mutant gene, short of “I’m not dead yet”. The gene allowed files having it to live twice longer than files without this gene.
- Asteroids, to be precise: 9617 Grahamchapman, 9618 Johncleese, 9619 Terrygilliam, 9620 Ericidle, 9621 Michaelpalin, 9622 Terryjones, and 13681 MontyPython.
- A fossil of the giant snake believed to be extinct – Montypythonoides riversleighensis. Unfortunately, it was later renamed.
- Holy hand grenade (HHG) weapon in Worms, borrowed from the “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” where it was used to defeat the Rabbit of Caerbanog.
- Food like beer and ice-cream.
- Few mostly rock bands.
I won’t say anything more, just visit montypython.com . I have to say at least something 😊
Try not to control Stephen Hawking in his wheelchair in this Asteroids remake. Try not to shoot those flaming Pythons from the sky, once and for all 😊
I hope you’ve enjoyed the article and I must say I’m sorry you haven’t seen a single stamp in the today’s article. But still, don’t be mad at me. Next week we’ll see some Monty Python stamps. And then again, the week after. And then… Who knows. Stay tuned!
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