The first time I ever saw an episode of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” I thought it was the stupidest and most unfunny excuse for a comedy series I’d ever seen.
Then over the years I gradually saw more Monty Python episodes, and “The Meaning of Life”, “The Life of Brian”, and I gradually came to the realisation that it’s pretty funny. But why did I not appreciate it back when I first saw it? I thought about it, and came to a shocking realisation.
But before I reveal the source of my Monty misery, I shall first share with you a tale of what we shall refer to as The Fondue Incident.
It was 1996, during my pre-Python appreciation days. I used to hang out on BBSs. Yeah, I was pretty damn cool back then. One day someone had this brilliant idea to hold a fondue party. The Bob and Karen inside me got excited. However, as this did not really appeal to many of the geek boys, it had to be made a fondue and Monty Python videos party. Wow. Rock on.
I did the research. I got a recipe for proper fondue, complete with gruyere and kirsch and French bread. The geeks, however, had their own special fondue recipe which consisted of mozzarella cheese and a loaf of white bread. I cooked up my fondue and it tasted real good. The geek’s fondue tasted like melted mozzarella. There were a few geeks who didn’t want to try my fondue because it, gasp, had alcohol in it – even though there was hardly any in it, and most of the alcohol would have evaporated during cooking.
The event reached its nadir when a geek wearing a black denim jacket with fake sheepskin trim dripped a big glob of cheese on my top. Monty Python videos followed. “The Life of Brian” never seemed less funny.
But back to the lecture at hand. I figured out why Monty Python has disgusted me for so long – it was because the humour of Monty Python had been stolen by geeks.
You probably know a Python geek. There may even be one in your close circle of friends, or even your family. It’s the kind of person who has entire Monty Python sketches and songs committed to memory. The kind of person who, without being the slightest bit intoxicated, will launch into a rendition of the Dead Parrot sketch or start doing the Ministry of Silly Walks one.
The thing is – and this, I believe has been scientifically proven, the sketches and songs of the Monty Python oevre are only ever funny when they are performed by a member of the Monty Python troop. Namely, this is Messrs Chapman, Cleese, Gilliam, Idle, Jones, and Palin.
Notice how on that list of names you will not see the name of the geek you know who recites Monty Python bits? Do you know why that is? It’s is because Monty Python sketches are never funny when done by enthusiastic amateurs. It is not hilarious to start singing The Lumberjack Song while hanging out with your mates. There is never an appropriate time to say “He’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy”, even if it is done in a girly falsetto.
What had happened was that over the years all these bad renditions of Monty Python sketches had completely ruined them for me. So when I first viewed the original versions, in their pure unadulterated form, I had to block out the geekiness that was tainting it. It’s a bit like listening to a piece of classical music that you first heard as part of an advertisement. It takes time to block out the ad.
So a message to all Python geeks. I know you love Monty Python and all that is Pythonesque, but for the sake of all those who have not yet been exposed to the comic delights of the Python posse, the next time you are about to launch into the Cheese Shop sketch, stop, think and keep it in your pants. Ok?