I gotta be honest here: Even the silly Monty Python sketches are often more cerebral than might appear, IMO. Now that I’m on the spot I can’t come up with any examples. But there is alot of Python stuff that I simply didn’t get in the first twenty viewings–even in the silly sketches.
Regarding the OP, however, since reading it I’ve found the piece my Mark Twain called How to Tell a Story to be interesting in the context of Monty Python and American humor. The most interesting part of the piece, IMO, is when Twain remarks that “The humorous [i.e. American] story depends for its effect upon the manner of the telling; the comic story [i.e. English] and the witty story upon the matter.” This seems to be both true and false. Monty Python, even in the silly sketches, is so much in the writing. Consider for example The Golden Age of Ballooning. That episode is full of hard-core silliness, yet underlying it is a depth of writing that is unmatched in popular American humor such as, for example, the work of Jim Carey or the Farelli Brothers (sp?). In Python the parts are played straight–the jokes are in the writing.
This is where Twain seems to contradict himself:
“The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it; but the teller of the comic story tells you beforehand that it is one of the funniest things he has ever heard, then tells it with eager delight, and is the first person to laugh when he gets through.”
American comedy doesn’t seem to play it as straight as Python. Of course, Leslie Neilson in the Naked Gun movies and shows is an obvious counter example. In contrast, so much of American comedy seems to be premised on the actors acting goofy. Chris Tucker would be a good example. Or Eddie Murphy. Or consider John Belushi in Animal House. The funniness of his performance seems to be in the performance, not the writing.
So in that regard, I would suspect that the anticipation of poor success in the States might be justified.