Today is a very auspicious day in my opinion: today marks fifty years since Monty Python’s Flying Circus was first broadcast, an event which arguably changed British comedy forever. Apart from an attempt to break the record for the most Gumbys gathered in one place, I haven’t seen much to mark this anniversary – there don’t seem to be any programmes about Python on tv tonight, for one. However, I think the best thing I can do to mark the occasion would be to flag this outstanding article by my old friend Chris Flacket up.
While I can’t say I agree with every point he makes (I think he goes slightly too far in the explanation that not all intelligent people live in London) I have to say I feel a bit embarrassed by my old university friend’s work. This is a proper, scholarly article of two to three thousand words which puts the superficial things I mostly spew on here to shame. It is quite a deep analysis of python, looking at both it’s history and structure. And like all good analysis, it leaves the reader even more interested than when one started. I hadn’t really thought, for example, about Python’s relationship with the music industry, and about how, in a way, the comedy troupe grew to resemble a rock band, producing records and going on tours.
Chris, like me, is a Python fan. I’ll always count watching those guys live in 2014 as one of the greatest moments of my life. Reading Chris’ article/essay just now again put that evening in perspective. Imagine getting to see a legendary rock band whose music you love, thought to have split up forever years ago, get back together to perform virtually on your doorstep. It was quite, quite incredible: one of those events which demonstrate how awesome life can get. For me, for Chris and for countless other people, there is something about the humour of Python which sets it apart: it is very random and zany as well as having a weight of intelligence behind it. Yet there is also something else: a humanity and empathy to it. Whether it’s to Always look on the bright side of life, how to arrange flowers or what to wear when felling trees, Python has something to say about the human condition we could all learn from.