Geek(s) Of The Week: Monty Python

Geek(s) Of The Week: Monty Python

Monty Python are/were a British surreal comedy group that created Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a British television comedy sketch show that first aired on the BBC on 5 October 1969. Forty-five episodes were made over four series. The Python phenomenon developed from the television series into something larger in scope and impact, spawning touring stage shows, films (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Meaning of Life, and The Life of Brian,) numerous albums, several books and a stage musical as well as launching the members to individual stardom. The group’s influence on comedy has been compared to The Beatles’ influence on music.

The television series, broadcast by the BBC from 1969 to 1974, was conceived, written and performed by members Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Loosely structured as a sketch show, but with an innovative stream-of-consciousness approach (aided by Gilliam’s animation), it pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable in style and content. A self-contained comedy team responsible for both writing and performing their work, the Pythons had creative control which allowed them to experiment with form and content, discarding rules of television comedy. Their influence on British comedy has been apparent for years, while in North America it has colored the work of cult performers from the early editions of Saturday Night Live through to more recent absurdist trends in television comedy. “Pythonesque” has entered the English lexicon as a result.

Graham Chapman passed away from cancer in 1989, and the world was a little worse off without him. The surviving 5 members decided to reunite for 10 shows at the O2 arena. They called it the “1 down and 5 to go.” The last show was broadcast worldwide via satellite. I was lucky enough to see the simulcast. Although they look very old and they made mistakes, the genius and timing are all still there, and they still make everyone, including themselves laugh. I am a complete MP fanboy, and unabashedly so. My wife is as well, and we are lucky enough to have met one of the Pythons, Eric Idle, while on tour with his “Eric Idle Exploits Monty Python” show. It is a highlight of my life and I have the autograph to prove it. They have decided to retire, and that’s ok with me, as they have such a great catalogue of classics. Never was a comedy troupe more worthy of Geek(s) of the Week.

About the Author

avatar MIKE: A geek who currently works as a Biologist and has an extensive science background. He is an avid user of HPC systems used for scientific research in the Washington DC area. Mike's working knowledge of using computers to solve problems brings a unique viewpoint to the podcast.