Sunday, October 18, 2009

O Pythons, My Pythons

Happy Birthday, Pythons. Their birth is considered to be October 5, 1969, the day the Flying Circus first aired on the BBC, and I am glad that the show is a fellow Libran. IFC has started running a 6-part documentary this evening, which is Pythonesque in its absurd length. But the surviving five guys thought, do it once, and do it right. Leave no thought unexpressed. So I’m in for the series. I like that it started with a glimpse of each of their childhoods.

I will always love the Pythons for saving me during junior high school. My very oldest BFF is the reason I found many of my teen loves, including T.E. Lawrence, Joni Mitchell, The Lord of the Rings, and Monty Python. It was on PBS on Sunday, which meant Monday morning we would gather to relive the great lines (even before the ad nauseum multiple viewings). To say there was nothing like it on American tv is profound understatement. And nothing at the time had such an impact on the audience—it created one of the first definable, vocal tv fan communities. People who could quote were fellow travelers:

Immanuel Kant was a real piss-ant
who was very rarely stable
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
who could think you under the table
David Hume could out-consume
Wilhelm Froederich Hegel
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
who was just as sloshed as Schlegel

What did I love? The verbalness of it all, the pitch perfect send-up of English institutions, the unapologetic intellectual references, the absurdness in thought, writing and deed, the naughty bits. How one sketch flowed into another. The fact that they were a troupe---they had each other, they were the smarter Friends of an earlier generation. And the exuberant sense of joy. That’s what the lifeline was at 14, when the storm clouds of puberty gathered, and the Pythons were a lamp unto my feet (read in the best, clipped BBC English, with the right kind of pauses, thank you very much).

I haven’t revisited them in the ensuing years, but this birthday is a reason to click around YouTube and feel the rush of connection to many funny, funny moments. I am particular to the classic Cleese/Chapman brilliance.

There’s a penguin on the telly.
Why’d you say Burma?
I panicked.

Mrs. Premise and Mrs. Conclusion, the visit to Sartre.

Kamikaze Scotsmen.

Upperclass Twits of the Year, the Village Idiots, Confuse a cat. “My brain hurts” “It will have to come out.”

Oh, I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay
I sleep all night and I work all day

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition—


clairehelene7 said...

See, I knew you were a kindred spirit. I do love the Pythons - I can quote too many of their sketches.

And I do think the length of the IFC special is ridiculously long. Is it wrong that I might wait to netflix it?

M.A.Peel said...

Claire, it's thought by some that Pythons are a guy thing. WRONG. I mean, it's not like they're the Stooges.