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Geek Trivia: Advanced Python scripting

Besides the six actual members of Monty Python -- Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin -- who are the only two people ever credited as writers during the entire run of Monty Python's Flying Circus?

This week marks a momentous anniversary for all fans of nominally ophidian absurdist sketch comedy. On Oct. 5, 1969, the first episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus aired on BBC One. Over the next four years, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin would conjure up 45 episodes worth of groundbreaking television humor and change the face of comedy forever.

Not bad for five overeducated Brits and an unlucky American cartoonist.

As for overeducated, Jones and Palin have degrees from Oxford (in English and modern history, respectively), while Chapman, Cleese, and Idle graduated from Cambridge (with degrees in medicine, law, and English, respectively). Chapman actually qualified as a medical doctor but never entered practice.

As for unlucky, it's unclear whether Terry Gilliam was "cursed" before his Pythonite tenure, but since the group disbanded, his career as a film director has been positively snakebitten with projects often collapsing before production ever begins, or failing at the box office once completed. Gilliam's attempts to film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote ended when the film set was destroyed by flood and the lead actor suffered a major spine injury, a failure so spectacular that it became the basis of a successful documentary, Lost in La Mancha.

Monty Python's Flying Circus, however, was a rousing success for almost everyone involved. Yet, despite the fact that Flying Circus appears on nearly every list of all-time great comedy shows you're likely to encounter, the Pythonites themselves consider the show a failure. They have repeatedly stated that their goal was to create comedy that defied classification, but instead their work defined the "Pythonesque" style. Instead of fighting the establishment, they became the standard by which many sketch comedies are measured.

So who is "Monty Python?" Nobody. The name was conjured from thin air, ostensibly to describe a smarmy and incompetent theatrical agent -- the sort of person who would have assembled this unlikely group of comics. The "real" Monty Python was comedy writer and television host Barry Took, who actually brought the Pythonites together and suggested the BBC give them a show. As such, the BBC originally considered as a title for their sketch show Baron Von Took's Flying Circus in homage to Took, but the group decided to attach their reputation (and the blame for their efforts) to a fictional entity instead.

What is truly amazing is that the Pythonites themselves wrote almost all the credited material that appeared on Flying Circus. In fact, in the entire run of the show, only two other people were ever credited as Monty Python writers.

WHO ARE THE ONLY TWO NON-PYTHONITES TO EVER WRITE FOR MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS?

Get the answer.

About

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

15 comments
donald.yost
donald.yost

How can you not at least mention Buzz Aldrin??? 20 October 1970 (Season 2, Episode 4) "The Buzz Aldrin Show" (imdb.com). While I'm sure Buzz did not actually do any writing for that or any other episode of MPFC, he did get credit for writing (and just about everything else) on that episode.

RealGem
RealGem

... nice to see Monty Python get covered. I've so many fond memories, and now my son is starting to enjoy them.

Montgomery Gator
Montgomery Gator

Another piece of Trivia, Neil Innes and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band were part of "Do Not Adjust Your Set", a British comedy that included Michael Palin, Terry Jones, and Eric Idle, along with a writing credit from Terry Gilliam. "Do Not Adjust Your Set" preceeded Monty Python by about a year. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061247/

bgiroux
bgiroux

Just a note about HHGTGG. It exists in separate incarnations, not novelizations of radio serials, or televization of novels. Adams purposely set out to create different incarnations in as many forms as possible: radio, novel, text-based computer game, television, and movie. Each incarnation is to be taken as wholly new with the same characters.

Leon Tribe
Leon Tribe

I'm not sure it is right to say the television mini- series became a major motion picture as the two were completely separate projects for Adams with the latter largely unfinished before his death. In fact, arguably, if you got the script for the 6 episodes of the mini-series, cut it down from 3 hours to 2 hours you would have a much more polished, authentic and coherent product than the motion picture.

raul62
raul62

To be honest, it's already really world trivia. And a nice title, of course! Maybe the colleagues programming in Python are more related with a flying circus than they think, but that's matter for another thread. Best regards, Ra?l

pgit
pgit

Good call! BTW Buzz is still at it, there is a Grundig "Buzz Aldrin" model radio out now, it has AM/FM, short wave and air bands. I got one not because it says "Buzz Aldrin" on it, but because it's a very good little receiver. It did come with credit-card sized "collector card" with some promo of the radio attributed to Aldrin.

wwest
wwest

Chapman served as location physician when they were making Life of Brian. They would film during the morning, before it got too hot, then Chapman held an open clinic in the afternoon. The most common ailments, IIRC, were sunburn and dysentery. Another Douglas Adams trivia: he also wrote for Doctor Who.

mattohare
mattohare

Something out of the Hitchhiker's Guide.

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

Another pythonesque spin-off, from Neil Innes and Eric Idle I believe, based on an English county that no longer exists. If you have not caught the Rutles movie yet, go find it. Leslie.

danasmith
danasmith

An argument is an intellectual process. But it can also be the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.... :)

BeingMe
BeingMe

PHP definately has some of the hallmarks of a Sirius Cybernetics Corporation product!

felicia
felicia

There you go - Quoting Python at us...

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