Monty Python: 5 of the Reunited Comedy Troupe's Most Side-Splitting Sketches (Video)
A look back at five memorable sketches following the announcement that John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones will perform a reunion show in London next summer.
The five remaining members of the U.K. comedy troupe Monty Python convened at the London Playhouse on Thursday to announce a reunion show, set to take place in July at London's O2 Arena.
The group will perform an assortment of sketches, drawing from some of their most memorable works and incorporating new material with "a modern, topical, Pythonesque twist." At the press conference, Python John Cleese insisted, "We won't do the same thing."
And while the late Python Graham Chapman may not be physically present at the event, the Pythons will incorporate him into their performance. Terry Jones noted: "If there is a God, [Graham] will be there."
In anticipation of the reunion, The Hollywood Reporter pays homage to the group with five of their funniest sketches:
"Pet Shop Sketch"
The "Dead Parrot Sketch," originally known as the "Pet Shop Sketch," is considered by many to be the most popular sketch to come from the Flying Circus television show. First appearing on air in episode eight of the first season, the sketch centers on the dispute between a pet shopkeeper (Michael Palin) and a peeved customer, Mr. Praline (Cleese). In a prolonged effort to bring the death of a particular Norwegian Blue parrot to the proprietor's attention, Praline employs a variety of euphemisms -- "Bereft of life, it rests in peace!" -- to no avail. The sketch was so popular that even Margaret Thatcher alluded to it at the Conservative Party Conference of 1990, closing "and now for something completely different."
"The Black Knight"
The iconic Black Knight (Cleese) appeared in a scene from the troupe's classic movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. After observing the character defeat the Green Knight, King Arthur (Chapman) offers the Black Knight a position at his court on the Round Table. The unresponsive fighter challenges King Arthur's right to cross the bridge, which is really just a short, wood plank, prompting a duel that leaves the Black Knight limbless, yet undeterred. "I'm invincible!" Cleese exclaims. "You're a loony!" Chapman rightly contends.
"Ministry of Silly Walks"
In the 14th episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, the comedy troupe's riotous television show, Cleese plays a civil servant of the British government sector in charge of developing Silly Walks via grants. A prospective client, Mr. Putey (Palin), pitches his own Silly Walk but fails to impress the staunch adviser, who contends that the walk is short of silliness. The sketch first aired in 1970 but has been re-enacted in various circuits, including a shortened version at the Hollywood Bowl.
"The Funniest Joke in the World"
Leave it to Monty Python to come up with the world's funniest joke -- so funny, in fact, that anyone who reads or hears it dies laughing. That's the gist of the sketch aptly titled "The Funniest Joke in the World," which first aired on Oct. 5, 1969, in the "Whither Canada" episode of Flying Circus. Featuring Ernest Scribbler (Palin), a British manufacturer of jokes who created the lethal pun, the sketch is set during World War II. Scribbler jots the joke on a piece of paper, then dies laughing, initiating a hilarious series of laugh-related deaths. The joke is translated into nonsensical German, but is never disclosed to the audience, presumably out of fear that they too would perish from the hilarity.
In a play on English grammar and logical fallacies, the "Argument Clinic" sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus serves as a prime example of the type of verbal comedy that made the troupe remarkable. Palin enters an office and offers to pay the receptionist (Rita Davies) for a five-minute argument. Directed to Chapman's room, Palin is confronted by a series of abuses and moves to the adjacent room of Cleese. Cleese engages in the tedious argument -- dialogue inspired by the The Goons and other musical hall comedy -- and becomes absorbed in confounding negations that leave audiences both confused and laughing.