Classic Comedy Teams: Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Claim to Fame: A restaurant that serves only SPAM; a temptress who collects dead milkmen; lumberjacks in women’s clothing; and, of course, the larch…

Why They Matter: The absurd, hilarious, surreal and mind-expanding Monty Python’s Flying Circus debuted on the BBC in 1969 and changed the way the world laughed. Their humor was equal parts Marx Brothers and Deconstruction theorist Jacques Derrida, as the six-man troupe unleashed a mix of literate improvisation, zany sketches, biting parodies and bizarre animation on an unsuspecting audience. The unpredictable Brits jolted viewers and networks alike, opening the door for the likes of Saturday Night Live, SCTV and more.

Postscript: Monty Python left TV in 1974, but by using fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency and other techniques learned from the Spanish Inquisition, they handily conquered the big screen with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. Various post-Python incarnations included the TV series Fawlty Towers and the films A Fish Called Wanda and Brazil.

The Last Word: Michael Palin, singing:
‘I’m a lumberjack, and I’m okay,
I sleep all night, and I work all day.
I chop down trees, I wear high heels,
Suspenders and a bra.
I wish I’d been a girlie
Just like my dear papa.’

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.