Man’s Crisis of Identity in the Latter Half of the 20th Century
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Méliès is medicine to a cat that mopes.

Boxing match (bowler vs. stovepipe, fez vs. Stetson, cardinal’s hat vs. wimple) that ends with Napoleon, a man in a towel, a policeman, a boxer and a chef vanishing into thin air. The cat is content.

Crise des mœurs, an alarm clock does its number, a vicar deals in the mysteries.

The newsreader’s fiction, the fellow in the story.

Theory of criticism. “Management training”, sales.


The BBC Entry for the Zinc Stoat of Budapest
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Golden Lion of Venice, Silver Bear of Berlin...

Arthur up the spout, It’s the Arts, “the greatest name in German Baroque music.” An honest job.

The vicar with his hand in the box. Nasty things in sweetmeats.

“The dull life of a City stockbroker,” his comic-book diversions, “and now my nose is starting to run. Is there no end to this terror?”

A Red Indian in the stalls, a police inquiry. “For Mrs Emma Hamilton of Nelson, a Scotsman on a horse.”

Irving C. Saltzberg of Twentieth-Century Vole, “Doris Dog and Rock Tree”.


You’re No Fun Any More
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

“A hard, tough, abrasive look at camelspotting.” Embezzlement as petty larceny.

Tennis in kilts. “Is that someone at the door?”

“No, it’s just the incidental music for this scene.” New Pudsey (“the very heart of civilisation”) takes a hand. “Are you askin’ me to believe that the five of you was playin’ doubles, when on the very next court there was a blancmange playin’ by itself?”

Mr Podgorny, champion at Wimbledon.


Episode 12B—Full Frontal Nudity
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

How England overcame every adversity, from an Eyetie protection racket to Hell’s Grannies.

Cp. Carry On... Up the Khyber (dir. Gerald Thomas), for instance.


The Ant, an Introduction
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

“Part 2... The Llama... Live From Golders Green”.

“A man with a tape recorder up his nose,” etc. A man who sees double preparing to lead an expedition down the map of England and up both peaks of Kilimanjaro (vd. Eliot after Shackleton).

The demon barber a frustrated lumberjack “leaping from tree to tree as they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia.” The Rubber Mac of Zurich Award. “Only make-believe...”

Ken Buddha’s inflatable knees at Bletchley, “a smile,” says the compere, “two bangs, and a religion... for your further entertainment, Brian Islam and Brucie.” A shooting party. The knight in armour “expectantly flexing his raw chicken,” on hiatus...

The obnoxious pub chappie and his circle of friends, “let’s have a ding dong.”


Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Homage to Baudelaire.

Deck chairs on a sinking ship.

“... l’univers entier dans ta ruelle...”


The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Goes to the Bathroom
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Tchaikovsky in the lav.

An interminable sketch interrupted by the undertaker. The Inspector and the corpus delicti.

The star footballer, the quality of commentary. Interesting People. Interesting Sport.

The World of History, an egg whisk for “twelve and six... in a plain wrapper.”

The Battle of Trafalgar and “the German... fleet.”

The Battle of Pearl Harbor fought with ladies’ pocketbooks.

A running gag has undertakers as pallbearers gradually tiring out and climbing one by one into the coffin, which lowers itself into the grave. The vicar drops a bit of earth on the departed, and gets a face full of mud. He draws a pistol and fires.


The Naked Ant
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Homage to Robert Frost, by way of Desmond Morris.

“It couldn’t be called ungentle / But how thoroughly departmental.”

“... one / Of the hive’s enquiry squad / Whose work is to find out God / And the nature of time and space...”

“One crossing with hurried tread / The body of one of their dead / Isn’t given a moment’s arrest— / Seems not even impressed. / But he no doubt reports to any / With whom he crosses antennae, / And they no doubt report / To the higher-up at court. / Then word goes forth in Formic...”

“An ant on the tablecloth / Ran into a dormant moth / Of many times his size. / He showed not the least surprise. / His business wasn’t with such. / He gave it scarcely a touch...”

“Appears a solemn mortician; / And taking formal position, / With feelers calmly atwiddle, / Seizes the dead by the middle...”


Monty Python’s Flying Circus

“The Management regrets that it will not be showing a feature film this evening as it eats into the profits.”

Historical Impersonations.


And Now for Something Completely Different

“Perhaps realise is too strong a word.”

Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), “a kind of insane logic seems to connect the sketches, if you look hard enough, but mostly the movie seems to exist in the present and be willing to try anything for a laugh.” Tom Milne (Time Out), “all good stuff.” Catholic News Service Media Review Office, “comedy not for all tastes.” Tom Hutchinson (Radio Times), “giving vent to a wholly superior form of surrealism. The Americans took it all to their hearts, bless ‘em. Perhaps they thought that the ‘Townswomen’s Guild Reconstruction of Pearl Harbor’ was for real.TV Guide, “fails to take advantage of the big-screen format.” Halliwell’s Film Guide, “side-splitting... baffling... perfunctory.”


Face The Press
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

“Two different views of contemporary things.”

The new head of Allied Bomber Command, “for a start, David Hockney is going to design the bombs.”

A new gas cooker for Mrs Crump.

Vintage Model European Monarchs.

Defence, Social Security, Health, Housing, Education, Silly Walks.”

Ethel The Frog, Doug and Dinsdale Piranha, Superintendent Harry “Snapper” Organs, Spiny Norman.


The Spanish Inquisition
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

“NOBODY expects...”


Déjà Vu?
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Flying lessons.


Ewan MacTeagle, poet par excellence.

Psychiatry and dairy products.


The Buzz Aldrin Show
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

The worm turns gorgeous. The Beeb is throughout apologetic.

Two schools of architecture, Abattoir and Skimp.

The Bishop, crimefighter.

The East Midlands Poet Board.

Middle Earth.

The Chemist Sketch, “Lunar Module calling Buzz Aldrin, come in.”


Live from the Grillomat
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

“We just want the money.”

The Royal Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things. The Wooden Horse (dir. Jack Lee). The Madwoman of Chaillot (dir. Bryan Forbes).

The fall of the house of Prawn Salad Ltd.

A Village Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. A piggybank hunt. “I can see nothing wrong with one healthy man beating the living daylights out of a little schoolgirl.”


It’s a Living
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Modus vivendi, a man’s life with all that entails and then some, they don’t let you live, your life is not your own etc.

Nevertheless, against the plague of lethal silliness one can with striving hold one’s own, a political metaphor derived from the show business vis-à-vis the critics.


The Attila the Hun Show
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

“With a little love, with a little love” (theme song The Hunlets).

“But soon the killer sheep began to affect other animals with its startling intelligence. Pussycats began to arrange mortgages, cocker spaniels began to design supermarkets—”

“—and parrots started to announce television programmes.”

A Tale of Two Cities, specially adapted for parrots by Joey Boy.”

Rumpus Parliament.

“A Lecturer in Idiocy at the University of East Anglia.” Furniture sports. “A blow on the head.”


Archaeology Today
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Things to come on the Beeb.Gawd blimey, look what we’ve found!”

Specimens on the title programme. Flaming Star.

“An appeal for sanity,” etc.

Raising Gangsters for Fun & Profit. The Gits. An Australian mosquito hunt.

Two high camp justices.


How to Recognize Different Parts of the Body
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Margaret Thatcher’s brain, the Zatapathique end.


Scott of the Antarctic
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

La Nouvelle Vague.

Scott of the Sahara.

A fish license, the Lord Mayor.

Rugby, Bournemouth Gynaecologists v. the Watford Long John Silver Impersonators.


How Not to Be Seen
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Cf. the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe film Scharfschütze in der Geländeausbildung (Meister der Tarnung und Täuschung).


Monty Python’s Flying Circus

The Black Eagle (dir. Laurent F. Norder). A Hungarian-English phrasebook, “I didn't know an acceptable legal phrase, m’lord.”

Lenin, Mao, Che and Marx on World Forum, “Coventry City have never won the FA Cup.” Knickers, 1914. A strike at the National Gallery.

Ypres, 1914. The Royal Hospital for Overacting, “really over the top.” Flower Arrangement.

“Have you got anything without Spam in it?”

“Another great Viking victory.”


Royal Episode Thirteen
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

That certain prerogative, touch, we, and so forth.


Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus

A coup de télévision.

The 27th Silly Olympiad.

Albrecht Dürer.

The Merchant of Venice performed by cows and doctors and cows dressed as doctors.

Little Red Riding Hood.

There is a polite way of saying that a Frenchman is full of crap, even if he is a gentleman from the City, and it is said here.

Gut Gesagt Ist Halb Gewonnen. The Bavarian Restaurant Sketch, jenseits von Gut und Böse.”

Sehen sie nun,” after a time, “Albrecht Dürer.”


Njorl’s Saga
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Just ahead of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (dirs. Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones), the Icelandic literary work that can’t get started, indications of a rationale.

Crime and blandishment etc.

Chez Sartre, epically.

Isle of interlocutors.


Mr. & Mrs. Brian Norris’ Ford Popular
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

“The secret of Surbiton.” The great migrations of ages past, the great explorations of the present. “The Thames, lying like a silver turd between Richmond and Isleworth.”

Schoolboy geniuses, TV coterie, the Minister for Overseas Development, “but then, people laughed at Bob Hope.”

A Farming Club bio of Tchaikovsky (“but what do we really know of this tortured ponce?”) like a trip to the moon.

Trim-Jeans Theatre presents Murder in the Cathedral. “That Anton Chekhov can certainly write.” The Great Escape (dir. John Sturges), likewise.

As Steve Allen has a colleague say, “like getting slapped in the mouth with a fish,” a biggest fish that sinks the Titanic and its fancy dress crew among the women and children (cf. Huston’s Beat the Devil). The Beeb is strapped for cash, the Irish landlady pulls the plug, It’s with Lulu and Ringo Starr.


The Money Programme
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Sir Cedric Hardwicke in Things to Come (dir. William Cameron Menzies) on the stuff, a musical, “you can keep your Marxist ways for it’s only just a phase.”

Visconti’s Erizabeth I quenched as Yakamoto. “I would like to ask the team what they would do if they were Hitler.”

“The ever-popular ratatouille” (History of the World: Part I, dir. Mel Brooks), the bishop for lunch. The Lost World of Roiurama, by Akarumba well out of Antonioni.

Ken Russell’s Gardening Club (1958), “the censor’s filthy synecdoche” (Beckett).

“I’d like to have an argument, please.”


Blood, Devastation, Death, War and Horror
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Naturally, this is but an anagram of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.

There is also the anagram of a merchant banker to be dealt with, orphans as well, “we are quite keen to get into orphans, you know, developing market, all that.”

The struggle for existence, Gilliam ahead of The Crimson Permanent Assurance.

The House-Hunters.

Your Mary Recruitment Office. “The way you said it.” Bols.


The All-England Summarize Proust Competition
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

In vain, of course.

From there, naturally enough, hairdressers on Mt. Everest.

Shirking firemen, etc. Sandy Wilson’s Version of “The Devils”.


The War Against Pornography
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

It can’t ‘appen ‘ere.

Harley Street. “The whelk is nothing but a homosexual of the worst kind.”

The man in the street, taking it all in.

Today in Parliament, etc.

“The British Naval Expedition to Lake Pahoe.”

A sot on Magna Carta, “the silliest sketch I’ve ever been in.”



Salad Days
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Biggles and the ‘arlot at the front, cornard, overlooking one.

Climbing the Uxbridge Road. “Some people say this is crazy.”

“Right, well, they said Crippen was crazy, didn’t they.”

Crippen was crazy.”

“Oh, well, there you are then.”

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Storage Jars, “the days when La Paz knew better times.” Telly and your eyeballs. The Old Cheese Emporium, “finest in the district, Sir!”

Rogue Cheddar (1967). The title work, directed by Sam Peckinpah.

Interlude at the seaside, armed Elizabethan soldier and all.


The Cycling Tour
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

“The pump caught in my trouser leg,” North Cornwall, Alpes-Maritimes, Smolensk, Moscow.

The return of Trotsky. “After a few moments, I perceived a line of gentlemen with rifles. They were looking in my direction. I looked around, but could not see the target...”


The Nude Organist
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

The Scottish hijacker.

Architecture by hypnosis... alternative justice system, “the Cheap-Laughs from next door,” the shoppingless planet of crumpet “by direct mail”, astronomically priced.

Olympic Hide and Seek.


Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus

“Smiling,” as Arthur Askey would say, “the boy fell dead.”

“In the light of this, should the Common Market now be cancelled, has it become just a thin excuse for a multinational orgy or is it still a serious attempt to aid the rich?”

Schleimer on sycophancy. “This is Mouse Country, where a man can ride for days and days without seeing his Auntie.” Der Schnuckelige Plüschtier Saloon. Stampede. Chicken mining, “sometimes going for weeks without seeing their Aunties.” Forgeries... the flea buster.

Internationale Philosophie, München (Rückspiel), Deutschland-Griechenland, from the Olympic Stadium football field, soccer to Americans, “eureka!”

Wrestling with oneself. Traffic noise, “Der Krieg”, a proposal. The deaf leading the blind.

Happy Valley, “decadent dimwitted parasitical bastards that they were.”

‘Cause she’s a fuckin’ princess, that’s why!”

“Now, Mitzi marries Prince Walter, or I curse the lot of you, and your Aunties.”

The Chicken Rush.


E. Henry Thripshaw’s Disease
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

A kind of circumlocution.

Shaw was on the side of the bowdlerizers, all that rough talk being in his view the stuff of the past, as a matter of policy.


Dennis Moore
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Decline and fall of Civilization by a knockout.

Attendant evils, notably the title character, a highwayman, “stupid bitch” etc.


A Book at Bedtime
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Difficulties of the literary life.

The Queen’s Own McKamikaze Highlanders (of “Ending Bugger”). “Now here’s the method. RSM Murdoch will lull the enemy into a full sense of security by giving them large quantities of money, a good home, and a steady job. Then, when they’re upstairs with the wife, Sapper MacDonald will hurl himself at the secret documents, destroying them and himself.”

“The Dawn of Man”. Frontiers of Medicine (rise of the penguin). Spot the Looney.

The microphone is wrested from a BBC presenter on Sir Walter Scott to talk about forestation, not without a fight (cp. Nabokov’s Transparent Things).


Monty Python’s Flying Circus

The British Show Biz Awards, the dummy Princess Margaret presenting.

The wit of the Nineties, artificial brains, wife-swapping, a new kind of rugby.

The awards programme par excellence.


The Golden Age of Ballooning
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Difficulties attendant upon the celebrated exploit of the brothers Montgolfier, difficulties and ramifications.

Undoubtedly the masterwork of the series (cf. Charlie Bubbles, dir. Albert Finney).


Michael Ellis
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

It’s all over.

Michael Ellis Week (Rag Week).

University of the Air.

The poetry of department stores.


Light Entertainment War
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

It passes (Up Your Pavement) the various degrees that lead to the RAF in the Battle of Britain, no longer intelligible because you’re all a bunch of fairies, Basingstoke is in Westphalia on Cole Porter’s map, not that Cole Porter, and the British sapper fights with a wet towel.

Amid the disaster, a beautifying campaign.

The public are idiots, BBC programme planners are self-serving idiots, the last five miles of the M2 are broadcast.

The woody upper crust of England, its force majeure.

A superidentity of social strata informs the credits.


Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Quack psychiatrists have a field day, of course.

If they were peelers, what price Westminster Bridge?

And so on, to Hamlet’s end.


Mr. Neutron
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

In the course of which it is made known that No. 10 is an Italian restaurant, the Post Office wants to take over the world, and the Beeb sells world domination T-shirts (cf. William Klein’s mr. Freedom).


A Party Political Broadcast on Behalf of the Liberal Party
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Football Pratts and other Most Awful Families, judged by Lady Organs and the odd academic.

Icelandic Honey Week. Medical examinations. “Yea, as Raymond Chandler said, it was one of those days when Los Angeles felt like a rock-hard fig.” The Brigadier and the Bishop. Slow death.

The rich live in heaven.

Stonehenge, the Walking Tree of Dahomey, the Batsmen of the Kalahari, the Pratts of Warwickshire.

The Nine O’Clock News.


Le Petomane

A thirty-minute review of the anal impressionist’s life and works that must recall on the other end McGrath’s The Great McGonagall but is ever so much the more filled with a becoming sobriety not lacking in wit.

Kings and queens and pretenders swell the narrative, which bursts forth sadly in the Great War, silencing him.

A classic on the artiste’s life, all of it true, though he is said elsewhere to have had a portal in his trousers for replenishing his instrument from a sulfur bath, doubtless an imposture.

And who is to say that Bergman was not inspired by his farewell performance for Fanny and Alexander?