Monty Python’s Flying Circus first aired in 1969 and lasted for 45 episodes made over four series. It was essentially a stream-of-consciousness sketch show illuminated by Terry Gilliam’s brilliant collage animations. Besides Gilliam, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin.
1) Monty Python’s “Spam” sketch is a classic. It takes place in a diner where all the breakfast items on the menu contain the processed American canned meat product, Spam. The waitress in the sketch, Terry Jones in drag, recites the menu as follows: “Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, sausage, eggs and Spam.”
In the early eighties, unsolicited bulk emails began arriving in Internet chatrooms. These emails were soon branded as “Spam”, directly inspired from the classic Monty Python sketch.
2) On 2004, BBC Radio ran a poll to find the best “alternative comedy sketch.” Python’s “Dead Parrot” sketch came on top by a wide margin from its closest rival.
3) My personal favorite Monty Python sketch is “The Ministry of Silly Walks”, showcasing John Cleese’s genius for physical comedy. Cleese, however, isn’t quite as enamored with it. “I get fed up with it,” he said. “Repetition kills everything. It’s not just the Parrot. It’s the Silly Walks and the rest of it.”
4) Although Python members (with the exception of American Terry Gilliam) met at Cambridge and Oxford universities, “upper class twits” were one of their prime targets. “The Twit Olympics” is one of the best of their twit sketches.
5) “Mr. Gumby’s Brain Surgery” is Michael Palin at his best. This sketch is screamingly funny. Like the upper class twits, the Gumbies are a type of Python character, handkerchief-hat-wearing sub-idiots.
6) Despite the absence of John Cleese from Monty Python’s fourth series, “The Most Awful Family in Britain” still manages to be one of their funniest sketches.
7) “Nudge Nudge” is a sketch that showcases the talents of Eric Idle and Terry Jones as two men in a bar having a civilized conversation filled with masked oever-the-top sexual innuendo.
8) The original “I’m a lumberjack” sketch also starred Connie Booth, John Cleese’s then-wife. It’s one of their most popular sketches, performed in several different versions.
9) “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.” This is the catchphrase from a series of sketches featuring the characters Cardinal Ximinez, Cardinal Biggles, and Cardinal Fang.
10) In the “Cheese Shop” sketch, customer John Cleese pesters proprietor Michael Palin for “Venezuelan Beaver Cheese” in a cheese shop that, in fact, has no cheese at all.