Follying around

My hovercraft is full of eels…, or the best sketches by MONTY PYTHON

Monty Python gave humanity a lavish and absurd feast, the main course of which was Comedy with a capital C.

Maja Budka

25 July 2023

My hovercraft is full of eels..or. the best sketches by MONTY PYTHON

Over 14 years of the group’s activity has resulted in hundreds of sketches and jokes that reshaped our sense of humor, becoming a British icon boldly compared to The Beatles. The comedians not only made us laugh out loud, but also spawned a fat and original chapter of our pop culture that remains untouched to this day. It is therefore not difficult to guess that the selection of the best sketches is a thankless and risky task for the greatest daredevils known to this world. But being holed up in a hermitage for three years, which I devoted entirely to absorbing the works of comedians, helped me make this difficult choice. Selected from hundreds of episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and feature films, the best of the best are a showcase of the unique style of British eccentrics. Random order.

The Dirty Fork

The sketch, also known as The Restaurant, is one of the most popular sketches due to the high level of absurdity it imparts to the viewer. Dirty cutlery, mistakenly served to the guests of the restaurant, reveals the hidden, crazy and murderous side of the staff. It is worth noting that in The Dirty Fork the characters react for the first time to the cries of the hidden audience, thus breaking the fourth wall. The sketch is also used in England as a teaching material for the national program of Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education.

Proust Competition

The novel In Search of Lost Time is a literary masterpiece by Marcel Proust, who in 7 fat volumes showed the motif of reminiscence caused by a madeleine accidentally dipped in tea. It was only a matter of time before the Pythons turned this joke around. They hit the mark with precision, creating a sketch for a national Proust synopsis contest. Contestants have 15 seconds to come into contact with this content-rich work, competing once in a swimsuit, once in an evening dress.

Dead Parrot

The Dead Parrot seated itself in the hearts of Monty Python fans as the best sketch of the Flying Circus. Comedians play not only with clever euphemisms about death, but also with bending reality. A pet shop in a completely different town turns out to be the same place John Cleese’s character visited at the beginning of the sketch. Interestingly, the same character will return in another sketch as Eric Praline, who will apply for a Fish Permit.

This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

Coconuts (Monty Python and a Holy Grail)

When King Arthur proudly emerges on his imaginary horse, jumping briskly like a child, he is accompanied by the sound of coconuts tapping together, imitating the sound of horse hooves hitting the ground. No wonder that the presence of coconuts in medieval Europe raises serious doubts of the fortress guards. The dispute over the migration of coconuts from the tropics to Mercia, fought outside the castle walls, is the quintessential absurdity that viewers will have to grapple with throughout the Pythons movie.

Argument Clinic

It’s okay to argue sometimes. Thanks to the argument clinic, everyone can count on a consistent exchange whenever they feel like it. Using the example of a truly absurd argument, Monty Python advises and teaches how not to argue. It presents the basic argument of argumentation, alternatively absurd: inconsistency with most contradictions leads to contradiction with inconsistency.

Confuse a Cat

The Pythons have created a world of absurdity and surrealism in which nothing seems to be real and sensible. This is also the case in the cat blues sketch. This affliction, complete inertia, small-town decadence, has become so serious that it requires the professional intervention of feline disorientators. Complicated therapy using clever comic equipment works instantly even in fatal cases.

Philosophy Football

A sketch of a special episode filmed for the 1972 Munich Olympics. A match between Greece and Germany that would probably go down in history. What would the football game look like if the Pythons manned national teams with famous resurrected sages and philosophers? Schopenhauer on defense, Plato on goal. However, the players do not throw themselves at the ball, but at philosophical ideas.

Village Idiots

It has been known for a long time that Pythons love to show the world in a distorting mirror, playing with conventions and stereotypes. Thus smuggling brilliant insights about human relationships, hidden under the guise of a seemingly stupid joke. This time, the comedians analyze the social role of the fool and unmask the deeply rooted human need for superiority over others. Only the titular village idiot understands and reveals this social mechanism. He realizes that he is an indispensable cog in it, fulfilling an important psychosociological function. He does it by falling off the walls and wallowing in the mud.

Spanish Inquisition

Monty Python and its ever-living symbol. You may not know or like their sketches. However, the phrase Nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition is known to everyone, regardless of tastes and sense of humor. Python’s creation has been permanently engraved in the collective consciousness of not only the British. The characteristic call has entered the colloquial language for good.

Pontius Pilate vs. Brian (Life of Brian)

Pilate. A character associated positively only by Mikhail Bulgakov, the author of The Master and Margarita, as a victim of migraine and a good-natured loner. According to Monty Python, however, he was a slow-witted man with a speech impediment and friends with interesting names. We are dealing with simple and primitive humor, which, intertwined with pathos and the seriousness of the situation, and the biblical motifs used, creates a truly explosive mixture, going from extreme to extreme. In addition, Michael Palin pampers the sketch with an acting portrayal of Pilate.

Funniest Joke in the World

A sketch about a killer prank appeared in the first episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus series. The content of the title joke, which merrily took many lives with it, has never been revealed. Translated from German, it was just unintelligible gibberish. The Funniest Joke in the World offers us what we love most about Monty Python: absurd humor, men dressed as women and mocking Nazis (a completely different Gestapo officer).

She's a Witch

Python, kidding about medieval superstition and having a great time. The favorite pastime of the Holy Grail crowd could therefore be nothing else than burning witches.

What makes you think she is a witch?
Well, she turned me into a newt!
A newt?!
I got better.

Hospital Run by RSM

Monty Python presents innovative methods of active recovery at the Hospital Run by RSM. The sketch once again imitates documentary material in which doctors and patients speak directly to the camera. In addition to the center where patients recover thanks to hard and exhausting work and physical activity, the comedians also show the Hospital For Attractive Not Very Sick Ladies and the Hospital For Very Rich People Who Like to Give Doctors Money.

Man Turn Into Scotsman

A characteristic science fiction sketch about the invasion of a cosmic pudding on Earth. Although it is told like a classic narrative story, there are many direct references to the viewer. The heroes break down the barrier of the fourth wall, fully aware of the presence of the camera.

Live Organ Transplants (The Meaning of Life)

Although in the case of The Meaning of Life we encounter weighty content, brilliant satires that make up the Pythons’ most ambitious production, the sketch about organ transplants simply emanates brutality and hideousness. The calm and composure that hovers over the grotesquely butchered body of an organ donor is horribly comical in its absurdity. Terry Jones, playing the role of a woman, adds charm to the scene.

Hungarian Phrasebook

Phrasebooks can be treacherous, as the Monty Python comedians teach us. Thus, they innocently mock Hungarian nationality, showing a dystopian vision of Great Britain plunged into communication chaos. The inspiration for the sketch may have been a nineteenth-century book of the Portuguese-English phrase As she is spoke, considered a classic source of unintentional humor, because translations in English are generally incoherent and gibberish.

Hell's Grannies

Another fun with contrasts. Undoubtedly charming old ladies terrorizing a quiet town, spreading fear even among the bravest inhabitants. They steal telephone booths, exude violence, paint a meaningful sentence on the walls Make tea not love. The Pythons dress the sketch in a mocking style, imitating a serious television documentary.

How Not to Be Seen

A guide that deliberately parodies the British government’s public information announcements broadcast on state television. The narrator, John Cleese, emphasizes the importance of being invisible, suggesting a social good. In fact, however, he enjoys spectacular gunshots and explosions, finding an excuse to murder people. Absurdity, grotesque and black humor reach their apogee in a short, two-minute sketch.

Royal Society For Putting Things On Top of Other Things

The quintessence of absurdity and absurdity performed by Monty Python. Royal Society For Putting Things On Top of Other Things is so nonsensical in its essence, as if taken out of a bizarre dream.

There’s still a lot of stuff left that isn’t on top of other things. I myself, on my way to this meeting, saw an item not on top of another item. Let us remember, however, that if each thing was on top of another thing, our association would be just a meaningless agglomeration of people with no common purpose.

Four Yorkshiremen

The sketch was originally written and produced for the British television comedy The Last the 1948 Show. However, the specific wit and the performance of John Cleese and Graham Chapman still bring to mind the Python style. The parody of the nostalgic conversation of four gentlemen also takes place with the participation of Marty Feldman, an actor known mainly for the role of Igor in the 1974 film Young Frankenstein.

Stoning (Life of Brian)

Life of Brian sketches deal with biblical rhetoric in their own humorous, controversial way. They do not even refrain from joking about stoning, showing execution as a favorite, if forbidden, pastime of women. Pythons play with their infantile jokes like children. This is the secret of their humor – the seriousness and pathos of the situation fit here like a fist to the nose.

Ministry of Silly Walks

The best for last. The Ministry of Silly Walks is the group’s most recognizable sketch right next to the Spanish Inquisition. Nothing surprising. It was John Cleese’s stupid gait and dance maneuvers that earned him the popularity he deserved more than dialogue. It’s pure physical comedy, a form focusing on humorous manipulation of the body and slapstick, involving excessive physical activity that exceeds the limits of ordinary physical comedy.

Maja Budka

Maja Budka

I write about film and art with a cat on the keyboard. I like animation and films lined with gentle absurdity.

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