Amongst Our Problems with Monty Python…

Monty Python's Flying CircusMy biggest complain about Monty Python’s Flying Circus, is that it is not that well written. It has good ideas and often takes them in bizarre and delightful directions. But most of the time, instead of ending a skit, they simply stop it. Their favorite way of doing this is to just start an orthogonal sketch. This is the basis for, “And now for something completely different.”

This approach can get brilliant. The Spanish Inquisition show is a good example of this. The first time the papal trio show up, it is the same old thing that Monty Python always gives us. But when it is repeated, it becomes something more. And when the episode ends with the mad dash of the Spanish Inquisition to the court, only to arrive late, it is brilliant. “Oh, bugger!”[1]

Here is Monty Python at their meta best. They explicitly make a joke out of their tendency not to complete a skit but rather just to move on to something else. It is the “Argument Clinic” sketch:

I suspect that they bring this up because a lot of critics at the time complained about this. I’ve never claimed to be original. This has long been my complaint about Saturday Night Live. But SNL doesn’t have the excuse of having clever transitions. (No one beats Mr. Show for that, however.)


[1] Note that the theme for this chase is Devil’s Galop, the same song used by That Mitchel and Web Look in “The Surprising Adventures of Sir Digby Chicken Caesar.”

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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