Thursday, April 26, 2007

Monty Python: team of well-educated clowns

Monty Python refers to the creators of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. It was a popular sketch comedy show first broadcast by the BBC in 1969. It was created by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. They had met each other at university and had decided to write and star in some British series. The Pythons played in four series containing in total 45 episodes. At the same time, they decided to shoot films. In sum, the group produced four films, of which the budget was very tiny. Monty Python’s Life Of Brian is the most controversial one because it tells “the story of a man mistaken for the Messiah - the eponymous Brian.”[1] According to the BBC, “the film was attacked by fundamentalist Christians who campaigned, successfully in some areas, to have the film banned. Despite (or perhaps because of) this, the film went on to be an enormous success.” The next film Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life had also been criticized a lot by fervent Christians. Nevertheless, the team received the Jury Prize at the Cannes film festival.
The Pythons invented a new genre in comedy, which is called sketch comedy. It broke all the traditional rules, especially because of their use of the ‘segue technique’. The latter is the brillant use of stream-of-consciousness ideas built-up in a logical and rigid structure. Traditionally, punchlines [2] were used to finish a sketch. In contrast, the Pythons rather segued [3] from one segment to the next and integrated lots of funny ideas everywhere and not especially at the end of a sketch. (cfr.:
The Python phenomenon is undoubtedly not only confined to some sitcoms on BBC, but it also involves the release of films, several albums, books and a musical adaptation on stage.

[2] A punchline is ‘‘the final part of a joke, usually the word, sentence or exchange of sentences which is intended to be funny and to provoke laughter from listeners ” ( wikipedia).
[3] Segue means to make a transition from one thing to another smoothly and without interruption (

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