I grew up on the anarchic comedy sextet of Monty Python. My vocabulary, as a teen, was peppered with phrases from their many, utterly hilarious, sketches – and some of my most enjoyable televisual experiences thus far involved John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman and Terry Gilliam.
They influenced a generation of young people. More than one, I suspect, actually.
Who could possibly forget their infamous creation, Mr Creosote (from ‘The Meaning of Life’ film), played so brilliantly by Terry Jones? Who, of my age, is able to see the word ‘Spam’ without laughing? And who, having seen ‘Life of Brian’ DOESN’T go around screeching, ‘He’s not the Messiah; he’s just a naughty boy!’ in falsetto, or, ‘Turn to the left: one cross each!’ in deadpan tones for at least a month, seriously endangering familial ties and parental sanity in the process?
Who could possibly watch Mr Palin and his house full of scrawny, ragged children, singing ‘Every Sperm is Sacred’ without falling into fits of giggles?
Some of the offshoots, involving individual Pythons, were almost as funny. Remember Michael Palin’s ‘Ripping Yarns’ series – and his wonderful, never-to-be-forgotten phrase, ‘You parrot-faced, spawny-eyed wazzock,’ which I use to this day when in extremis!
By a wonderful stroke of luck, I have seen both Palin and Jones in the flesh.
I live near Bristol – and, every January, there is a Slapstick Festival with various events, and several well-known comedians attending. Graeme Garden and Tim Brooke-Taylor (of The Goodies fame) are always there, as is Barry Cryer; Bill Oddie (the other Goodie) is also often in attendance.
Four years ago, Michael Palin and Terry Jones also put in an appearance – and, in the former’s case, much more than just a brief cameo role. He was honoured for his work in comedy over the past forty plus years. Quite right too.
He has always been my favourite Python – and he seems such a lovely chap too: modest, kind, friendly.
Now, I do know that some people in the younger generation have never heard of the Pythons, and most certainly have not watched them at their zany best. I also know that there may well be people who read my blog, and come from other countries, who, again, have not had the sublime pleasure of viewing a Python! As it were!
It is incredibly hard to choose one sketch out of all the wonderful ones they produced. But I have done precisely that. The one I am sharing with you – ‘Upper Class Twit of the Year’ – has been chosen because it is such a funny take on that classic British species, the Public School Boy, and also because the names chosen are so brilliant and really extract the Michael from our daft double/triple/quadruple-barrelled surnames.