I suppose I should start by telling you about Monty Python. Although, I have to hope that some of you, dear readers, have a more-than-passing familiarity.
Monty Python isn’t a person, it’s more than one. Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin were all experimental comedic actors in the mid-1960s, a time known for its experimentation. They were first brought together in 1966 in a British TV show called The Frost Report. By 1969, they got their own show on BBC called Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The style could be best described as frustrated, yet hilarious, anarchy. Although the show was ostensibly a series of sketches, it was so fast-paced and irreverent that there was no real word for it. Hence the need for the word “Pythonesque” which has been applied to so many comedy troupes since.
The Pythons had many famous fans, including the Beatles, who bankrolled many of their later efforts. This drove international attention, including that of US broadcasters. PBS snapped up the rights to Flying Circus as well as John Cleese’s follow-up Fawlty Towers. It was then, in the early 1970s, that I first learned of them. Their style became my style, and I must say that if you find anything in this blog wryly funny, it’s due in large part to Messrs. Chapman, Cleese, Gilliam, Idle, Jones, and Palin.
The YouTube era
The Pythons, as they have come to be called, realized the appeal that their comedy had in YouTube videos. The fast pace, twisted endings, and the humor they wrought from routine suffering were perfect for the ironic-themed 2000s. The group realized that others were stealing their content posting it at such a rapid rate that they may as well simply post all of it online. And they did, at least a lot of it.
You can find the Monty Python YouTube Channel here, and while it’s not a complete collection, there’s a lot to love there. Not only will you find a good selection of classic sketches, you’ll find a lot of interview and behind the scenes content.
The funniest joke in the world
One of my favorite sketches is, “The funniest joke in the world.” The conceit is one of a documentary about the military value of a joke. This version is from the Python’s concert film, “And Now For Something Completely Different.”
Told in a deadpan serious tone, we learn the story of how the funniest joke in the world came to be. The actual joke, in German, reads,
“Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!”
Which, according to Google Translate, doesn’t mean anything. So the joke, it would seem, is on us.