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– Monty Python –
Learn English – Lesson 98 – Monty Python
Monty Python were a British surreal comedy group created in the late 1960s. The group comprised of six members, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Graham, John and Eric attended Cambridge together and were members of the Cambridge University Footlights, which at that time also included Tim Brooke-Taylor, Bill Oddie, and Graeme Garden who would go on to form the comedy group Goodies, and Jonathan Lynn, co-writer of the satirical political situation comedies Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. Terry Jones and Michael met at Oxford University.
It was on the satirical television show The Frost Report, that the Pythons came together and developed their unique writing styles that would become so significant later. The Frost Report, presented by David Frost, comprised some of the finest comedic minds of Britain in the 1960s, with writers and performers who would go on to become famous names in different television shows. They included the aforementioned Goodies members Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke-Taylor, and also Frank Muir, Denis Norden, Barry Cryer, Marty Feldman, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett.
On the strength of the success of the future Pythons writing and performance on The Frost Report, Frost approached them about starring in a sketch series. The series, At Last the 1948 Show, launched in 1967 and brought Cambridge Footlights humour to a broader audience. Impressed by their work, the BBC offered Chapman and Cleese a show. Cleese, reluctant to work as only a two-act, invited Palin to join the team who agreed and suggested the involvement of his writing partner Jones and colleague Idle. Idle suggested the inclusion of Gilliam who could provide animations. Much has been made of the fact that the Monty Python troupe is the result of Cleese’s desire to work with Palin and the chance circumstances that brought the other four members into the fold.
The first episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus was broadcast on October 5, 1969. The team experimented with ending the sketches by cutting abruptly to another scene or animation, walking offstage, addressing the camera, also known as breaking the fourth wall, or introducing a totally unrelated event or character. While the show was a collaborative process, different factions within Python were responsible for elements of the team’s humour. Jones and Palin introduced a more visual and conceptual style while the Cambridge team were inclined to more verbal and aggressive sketches, with Gilliams sometimes savage animations allowing for the creation of outrageously violent scenes that could pass the censors.
The first series got off to a rocky start, appearing late at night and being moved around the schedules. On occasion, it’s screening was dropped altogether. Despite these problems, the show developed a significant word of mouth following, which was enough for the BBC to commision a second series.
After the success of the second series, the Pythons branched out into the world of film with the intention of breaking into America. Their first film, And Now For Something Completely Different, released in 1971, was composed of reshot sketches from the first two seasons of the TV series. Sketches selected included « Dead Parrot », « The Lumberjack Song », « Upper Class Twit of the Year », « Hell’s Grannies », « Self-Defence Class », « How Not To Be Seen » and « Nudge Nudge ». The film failed to break into the American market and the group did not consider the film a success, however, it did receive a wider audience in the UK. The team returned to television and produced a third series, after which, Cleese left the troupe. The fourth series, generally considered to be the weakest of the four television series, was shown in 1974.
Cleese came back on board for the troupes second feature film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), based on the Arthurian legend and directed by Jones and Gilliam. Taking on board their experiences on And Now For Something Completely Different, the Pythons were determined to keep control of their next film. Holy Grail was filmed in picturesque rural areas of Scotland, with a budget of only £229,000; some of which was raised with investments from rock groups such as Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin. The release of the film coincided with Monty Pythons Flying Circus receiving popularity in the US and boosted the success of the film.
Following the success of Holy Grail, the public was eager to view Pythons next opus. The troupe hadn’t really considered a third film and during an interview, Idle flippantly replied that their next film would be called « Jesus Christ – Lust for Glory ». Although initially a retort to quell the hounding reporters, they soon began to play with the idea. Monty Python’s Life of Brian was the result. After many rewrites the final script had almost nothing to do with Christ at all, and simply told the story of a man mistaken for the Messiah. This satire on credulity and hypocrisy among the followers of the eponymous Brian was funded by Beatles member George Harrison, a Python fan who was desperate to see the film. On its release in 1979, the film was attacked by fundamentalist Christians who campaigned to have the film banned. Despite this, the film went on to be an enormous success.
Their next and last film, Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life was released in 1983 and was another financial and critical success. Containing a great deal of black humour, the film was compiled of a series of sketches loosely following the ages of man from birth to death. The film contains some of their most outrageous material, structurally closer to the style of Flying Circus. By the Pythons own admission the film was intended to offend absolutely everyone and included such classically disturbing sketches as an attack on Catholic birth control policy in ‘Every Sperm is Sacred’, a live sex-education lesson in front of some bored schoolboys, the all-vomiting, all-exploding Mr Creosote. this was the last project that all six Pythons would collaborate on. They were reunited in 1998 for a stage appearance in Colorado, USA, minus Graham Chapman who had died of cancer ten years earlier. There was talk of a new film or stage show but nothing came of it, perhaps because without every member of the troupe it was no longer Monty Python.
Interactive Video Comprehension Quiz 1:
Summary Statements Comprehension Quiz 2:
Drag and Drop Quiz 3:
To get + a + noun:
|To get a break|
|To get a grip of oneself|
|To get a handle on|
|To get the hang of something|
|To get a kick out of something|
|To get a life|
|To get a line on someone|
|To get a load of something|
|To get a move on|
|To get a raw deal|
|To get a rise out of someone|
|To get a word in edgewise|
To get + noun/adjective (B to E🙂
|To get better/well|
|To get blood out of a stone|
|To get carried away|
|To get caught in something|
|To get caught up in something|
|To get cold feet|
|To get down to brass tacks/business|
|To get even with someone|
To get + noun/adjective (F to I🙂
|To get fresh with someone|
|To get going|
|To get high|
|To get hell|
|To get in on the ground floor|
|To get in someone’s hair|
|To get in on the act|
|To get into the swing of things|
|To get into trouble|
|To get involved|
|To get it/your act together|
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