Monty Python and America

Well, this is the same thread where someone said:

which is baffling. The only thing those four series have in common is that they’re all British. If somebody can explain to me how “Are You Being Served?” and “The Benny Hill Show” are inherently better than the “insipid Hollywood comedy,” I’d love to hear it. They’re both broad parody and lowbrow sex gags, about as shallow as they come. Who’s the one being snobbish here?

Sure, Monty Python and Blackadder were full of ridiculously silly stuff. But that’s not all they were about. The humor comes from all over the place; in the same sketch, or at least the same episode, you were just as likely to see references to history, philosophy, or literature as you were to see topless women running around or poopie jokes. They could be silly, but they proved over and over again that they could be more than silly. If Monty Python were going to do a joke about Mrs. Slocum’s pussy, they’d have a lot of other stuff going on too; they wouldn’t act as if that were the pinnacle of comedy.

I think “Are You Being Served?” and “The Benny Hill Show” are completely stupid. That’s not to say that they’re completely worthless; they shoot low, just to make people laugh, and for a lot of people, it works. But I object to the idea that this lowbrow humor is inherently superior to “Hollywood” sitcoms, just because they deliver their sex jokes with an accent and extra u’s.

Come now. We all know that humour is WAAAAY better than humor.

My guess is that the low estimations of MP’s appeal across the pond were due in part to a common mistake: getting overly hung up on the cultural and political particulars in a skit. Skits like “The Golden Age of Ballooning” may be well be referencing a particular BBC documentary (or perhaps certain presenters, voice-over actors, re-enactment actors, or crossover historians who become widely associated with those gigs), but that doesn’t prevent an American from enjoying it as a mockumentary on its own merits, even while realizing that it may be more pointed in its humor for “those in the know”. Politicians, lawyers, clerics, and perverts hold up very well as universal examples of buffoonery and will be lampooned as such. The barb may originally have been inspired by a particular doofus, but the humor will always be understood more broadly, as well.

There was a similarly-themed Straight Dope thread a while back on cross-Atlantic (mis)understanding of sports and sport references in movies. The general consensus was that, although the Brits have some difficulty with baseball and American football, and that many 'Mericans will never understand cricket, between our managing to get the gist of the sport and the fact that the sporting details are basically trivial, we manage to appreciate a sports movie on its own general merits (or lack of thereof).

yes, well the Pythons exhibited the kind of blinkard philistine pig ignorance I’ve come to expect from those non-creative garbage

I’m pretty sure they can use punctuation as well as the shift key.

Frankly, I thought “The Golden Age of Ballooning” and everything else in the 4th series (after Cleese left) was boring. And even the 3rd series had some really poor bits.

[hijack]Ohmygosh! That is one of my favorite episodes![/hijack]

But how popular is Monty Python really in the U.S? Anyone have numbers? I realize it is probably loved by a majority of the people on this board, but let’s face it guys: most of us are a bunch of dorks, cat owners, and Star Trek fans. I don’t think we really represent a reliable sampling of the American entertainment consuming public.

No, only the smart ones…:slight_smile:

I don’t think the Pythons had any idea of their appeal early on. A friend of mine met John Cleese in Europe in the late '70s. Cleese was coming to Australia to film a series of TV commercials. Recognising that my friend was Australian he pumped him with questions “Will people know who I am? Is Monty Python well known?”. Apparently he needed quite some reassurance that the show was well known because it only showed on the ABC late at night.

When I was in high school I had a speech class where one assignment was to come up with an example of an advertisement with a celebrity endorsement. I cut out one with John Cleese in its. The teacher was pissed! I had been given the assignment of finding an add with a celebrity and I came in with an ad with some unknown and a lame story! Fortunately there was an English girl in the class who straightened the teacher out on my behalf!! Man, I was sweating it that day. Imagine being raised on Monty Python since you were, let’s say 7 years old, then being told in high school that it didn’t exist…

Hey! I am NOT a cat owner!


Silliness is present on both sides of the Atlantic. I mean, really – what were the Marx Brothers if not just flat out silly?

Some of Monty Python’s stuff was surreal and absurdist, but much of it was just plain ol’ silliness. “The Lumberjack Song” – silly. “Dead Parrot” – silly. Gilliam’s animation – silly. “Self-defence” – silly. “Bruce” – up until the song, silly. “Spam” – silly. “Radio 4’s Presentation of ‘Mary, Queen of Scots’” – silly, silly, silly.

Everyone can appreciate silly. I recall a story about a family (We’ll call them family “A”) that hosted a family from a southeast Asian country (Family “B”) during the immigration process. Family A let family B live in their house. No one in family B spoke English. But, family B really liked “The Three Stooges”, and would laugh and laugh and laugh when they were on TV.

I guess someone didn’t read the Registration Agreement…