With the 40th anniversary of Monty Python’s Flying Circus happening this week, and prompted by having spotted another similar list, I thought maybe I’d apply my brain power to the topic of which are my favourite Python sketches (thereby resulting in a far superior list). By “sketch”, I’ve sort of included pieces from the movies, as well. Chocks away…
1. The Last Supper
I totally lose my shit every time I watch this.
The actual painting of Michelangelo’s The Last Supper is on the wall of a church in Milan, but as it turns out, you’ve got to book at least a week in advance in order to reserve a time to see it.
2. Latin Lesson
Cleese doing impatient authoritarian, with rabid stickling for trivial detail.
3. History of the Joke
Nicko, TimO, Brett & I got to perform a version of this on stage once, and the hardest part was maintaining the straight face, especially when just prior to performing we’d be thinking about previous rehearsals of the three-course-complex.
4. Cheese Shop
These things really need no introduction, do they? This classic comes up nearly every time there’s more than one person hovering around a supermarket dairy section.
5. Four Yorkshiremen
The sketch that gave a million Python enthusiasts a nice little “secret handshake” of a codeword to slip in to conversation in order to recognise others of the same ilk.
It’s the Cleesian frustration at play again here in the face of illogical idealism which appeals to me.
7. Constitutional Peasants
This sketch is going to be the only reason why a 12 year old has ever heard of anarcho-syndicalism.
8. Exploding Blue Danube
I don’t know what I like more – the exploding instrumentalists, or the idea that an orchestra might set up in a field.
9. Summarise Proust Competition
Having reached number 9, it’s apparent that none of these little introductory notes I’m putting here are actually adding anything of any value to this top ten list, and the videos largely speak for themselves.
10. Prices on the Planet Algon
Not one of Python’s more famous sketches, by any stretch of the imagination – again, I guess it’s the obsession with irrelevant detail which is the charm here. Produced during the 1970s, a time where people were very much interested in the potential of what we might find in space, this sketch concentrated on how much various groceries and other items might cost on the newly discovered planet Algon. And how could you not enjoy lines like:
Reporter: But I think we’re getting some pictures now from Algon itself, and it looks as though… yes! The satellite has found a bird! The probe has struck crumpet and she looks pretty good too! Professor?
Professor: Ja – she’s a. real honey!
I’ve put 4 more here: they’re not really candidates for the Top 10, because they’re a bit too short to qualify as sketches, but they do crease me up every time I watch them.
Batley Townswomens’ Guild Recreation of the Battle Of Pearl Harbour
And now… music!
(and the added bonus of Gilliam animations like the last two is that you find yourself giggling when you eventually see the original works in European museums & galleries.)