Think of Monty Python and the Flying Circus and you think of a futile attempt to cash in on a money-back guarantee for a dead Norwegian Blue parrot or an articulated amble along the Ministry of Silly Walks, ironic humor with a British twist. The humor died 40 years ago when the series went off air, to be revived sporadically in re-runs. Just announced, Monty Python will fly once again next July in London’s O2 Arena. Before they perform their encore, their last hurrah, here is an introduction for today’s generation and some thoughts on their legacy.
The genius of the Flying Circus was that “[a]ll authority is suspect, whether of church, state, academy, police, or business, and the only real events alluded to are in the distant past: the Crusades, the life of Christ, the Spanish Inquisition” allowing them to be outrageously politically incorrect in “tak[ing] on the Man without giving obvious offense, without endangering their freedom of expression.”
The Life of Brian, a movie “so funny it was banned in Norway”, chronicles the life of Brian Cohen who just happens to be born three mangers down the street from Jesus in Bethlehem. His life, while specifically distinct, parallels in hilarious ways the life of Jesus. The religious establishment went up in arms, the New York premiere picketed by both rabbis and nuns. The issue of blasphemy was debated on prime time BBC with Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark participating. The film was banned in Ireland, Norway and hundreds of cities worldwide. Notwithstanding it is considered one of the funniest top ten movies of all time.