The four English and one American gentlemen who came together at the end of the turbulent 1960s to form the comedy troupe known as Monty Python’s Flying Circus were highly intelligent, well-educated, profoundly funny, incredibly creative, incessantly silly, politically satirical, highly neurotic and explosively successful. Over the course of just four seasons, starting in October 1969, they churned out 45 brilliant and groundbreaking episodes that changed television comedy the same way The Beatles revolutionized music. Their so-called “bits” or sketches parodied and ridiculed everyone from the Queen to the Kaiser and challenged every conceivable social norm and convention. It was a form of comedy that took the world by storm and turned Great Britain and the world on its head.
Now, Black Dog and Leventhal Books and Python expert Luke Dempsey have published a very, ahem, heavy and comprehensive compendium that includes not only every single script, routine and episode broadcast between 1969 and 1974 on the once very conservative BBC, but also more than 1,000 detailed annotations. They also include behind-the-scenes stories, 2,000 color photos, drawings and more. So not only can you read through such classic, silly bits as “The Dead Parrot,” “The Spanish Inquisition,” “The Lumberjack Song,” “The Argument Clinic” and “The Cheese Shop,” but for the first time, it’s easier to make sense of some of the more obscure British cultural references.
This treasure chest of comedy also includes countless stories about shooting locations, set designs, costume details (the lads liked to dress up as old ladies) and goofs and gaffes from the classic skits.
Whether you’re merely a casual fan or if you’ve watched these side-splitting programs more times than you’re willing to confess, there’s plenty that will fascinate you and give new meaning to the genius that is Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Grade: A+