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Tony Grist

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Resuscitating The Parrot [Nov. 20th, 2013|11:41 am]
Tony Grist
Radio 4 had the bright idea of sitting some contemporary six formers down in front of the dead parrot sketch. None of them found it particularly funny. It was slow, silly, not their style. That's the trouble with cutting edge humour; It goes blunt very quickly. Funny things are only funny in context. John Cleese doing a silly walk in a bowler hat depended on there still being bowler hats to be seen on the streets of London. They're gone now and the joke dies along with the cultural signifier.

Python was very wonderful and important in its time. I loved it. But I'm not remotely interested in getting tickets for the reunion- or at laughing at the memory of a laugh. I gather John Cleese isn't as rich as he thinks he ought to be- though I bet he's richer than anyone who lives round here. 
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: splodgenoodles
2013-11-20 12:28 pm (UTC)
Curiously, many Young Folk(TM) of my acquaintance love The Young Ones. I thought they would have dated as well.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-11-20 12:41 pm (UTC)
Yes, I agree. The student types that were being sent up- the hippie, the punk- have pretty much disappeared, haven't they? I can only suppose they like how fast it is. And the slapstick. Slapstick is one thing that never dates.
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From: artkouros
2013-11-20 01:17 pm (UTC)
I just heard the term "six former" used in this book I'm reading about Alan Turing, and I still don't know what it means. I loved the silly walking sketch, even though we did not have bowler hats over here in the 1960's. Or ever as far as I know.
I'm not sure you can take a single Monty Python sketch out of context. So much of that show was knowing the individual Pythons.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-11-20 01:25 pm (UTC)
The sixth form is the highest class in a British secondary school. You have grades we have forms.

I think it's important to view the sketches in the context of the original shows. A lot of the humour resides in the transitions- the way one sketch leads or bumps or barges into the next- the way the conventions of TV are being played with and deconstructed.

And now for something completely different.

The Pythons kept hitting us with the unexpected.
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From: artkouros
2013-11-20 01:41 pm (UTC)
I just now heard on the radio that they're reuniting for a stage show.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-11-20 02:11 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's what prompted the post. I'm not sure it's such a good idea- not unless they can come up with something fresh.
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[User Picture]From: davesmusictank
2013-11-20 07:58 pm (UTC)
I too loved the early Python TV shows and the films they made. Not sure about this reunion though.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-11-20 08:38 pm (UTC)
If they're just going to rehash the old material I'm not particularly interested.
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[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2013-11-21 08:42 am (UTC)
Four divorces with settlements have got Cleese nervous (but then he should really stop marrying blondes so many years younger - they're certainly not after him for his charm). Personally I still like the parrot sketch.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-11-21 10:18 am (UTC)
Comedians tend to be damaged and insufferable human beings. I suggest Cleese is a case in point.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-11-21 10:24 am (UTC)
I liked the Pythons, but I liked their successors too- especially Blackadder.

Everyone credits Spike Milligan as the godfather of alternative comedy but his shows rarely get repeated. I suppose this is because a lot of his humour is on the same level as Benny Hill's. Even so I remember watching the very first episode of Python and thinking, "Hey, they're ripping off Spike!"
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