The troupe that was Monty Python's Flying Circus, the Pythons, has a long, long, long history in British humour. Before Monty Python's Flying Circus, many of the same troupe were together in the David Frost Report. This was before David Frost started interviewing people like Richard Nixon.

There is a book somewhere which shows the lineage of the Pythons. This seems to include so many, many of those active in the BBC from the 60's on. (But then the BBC has always been a rockin' place, and we never really get to see the genius that it, and a public broadcaster can be.)

It always seemed to me that the greatest strength of the Pythons was their ability to pie language. (Does anyone here know that to pie something comes from shaking up a case of lead type? Its what was used not so long ago to print what I am printing now.)

How often did we see Pythons use dictionaries, or books of translation, and get it all so horribly, so uproariously wrong? Or those situations in bureaucrats' officies, with bureaucratese? Or those parodies of the Beeb itself?

Language gone mad is both the funniest thing possibly, because language includes everything---and it is the greatest nightmare.

Quelle cauchemar!

Monty Python's Flying Circus was the title of a series of TV series, consisting of short, mostly absurd, humorous sketches, broadcast by the BBC, the first in 1969. The show was written and played by

with female roles by The - equally absurd - animations were done by an American:
who also featured in some of the films they did later: Life of Brian, the Holy Grail, The Meaning of Life.

There were actually several series that the Pythons were involved in other than the Frost Report. Most of these also involved members of the Goodies and other Oxbridge comedy teams. The main ones were

At Last The 1948 Show - A sketch show featuring John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Marty Feldman and Tim Brooke-Taylor (Cleese and Brooke-Taylor also appeared in the radio show I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again, which is where the Ferret Song heard on some Monty Python recordings comes from.) The Four Yorkshiremen sketch heard on the Monty Python Live At Drury Lane album comes from this series.

Do Not Adjust Your Set - A children's TV show featuring Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and the animation of Terry Gilliam. Also featured regular appearances by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, and had David Jason in supporting roles. Probably the most popular of the pre-Python shows.

The Complete And Utter History Of Britain - A show that only lasted a couple of episodes, written and performed by Jones and Palin

Also the various members of the team were writing for shows such as Doctor In The House and Marty! at the same time.

Most of this information comes from the excellent book From Fringe To Flying Circus by Roger Wilmut, which covers the early 60s English comedy boom remarkably well.

Monty Python's Flying Circus sketches and the episodes that contain them:

Episode 1: Whither Canada
It's Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart • Famous Deaths • Italian lesson • Whizzo butter • It's the Arts • Arthur "Two-Sheds" Jackson • Picasso/cycling race • The funniest joke in the world
Episode 2: Sex and Violence
    • Flying sheep •French lecture on sheep-aircraft •A man with three buttocks •A man with two noses •Musical mice •Marriage guidance counsellor • The wacky queen •Working-class playwright •A Scotsman on a horse •The wrestling epilogue •The mouse problem

Episode 3: How to Recognize Different Types of Trees from Quite a Long Way Away
    • Court scene (witness in coffin/Cardinal Richelieu)• The larchBicycle repair man •Children's stories •Restaurant sketch •Seduced milkmen •Stolen newsreader • Children's interview •Nudge nudge

Episode 4: Owl-Stretching Time Episode 5: Man's Crisis of Identity in the Latter Half of the Twentieth Century Episode 6: It's the Arts
    • Johann GombolputtyŠvon Hautkopf of Ulm • Non-illegal robbery •Vox pops •Crunchy frog •The dull life of a City stockbroker •Red indian in theatre • Policemen make wonderful friends •A Scotsman on a horse •Twentieth-century vole

Episode 7: You're No Fun Anymore Episode 8: Full Frontal Nudity Episode 9: The Ant, An Introduction Episode 10: Untitled
    • Walk-on part in sketch •Bank robber (lingerie shop)• Trailer •Arthur Tree •Vocational Guidance Counselor • The first man to jump the Channel •Tunnelling from Godalming to Java •Pet conversions •Gorilla librarian •Letters to "Daily Mirror"• Strangers in the night

Episode 11: The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Goes to the Bathroom
    • Letter (lavatorial humour)• Interruptions •Agatha Christie sketch •Literary football discussion •Undertakers film •Interesting people •Eighteenth-century social legislation •The Battle of Trafalgar • Batley Townswomens' Guild presents the Battle of Pearl Harbour •Undertakers film

Episode 12: The Naked Ant Episode 13: Intermission Episode 14: Face the Press Episode 15: The Spanish Inquisition Episode 16: Déjà vu
    • A bishop rehearsing •Flying lessons •Hijacked plane (to Luton)• The Poet McTeagle • Psychiatrist milkmanComplaints • Déjà vu

Episode 17: The Buzz Aldrin Show
    Architect sketch •How to give up being a Mason • Motor insurance sketch •"The Bishop"• Living room on pavement •Poets •A choice of viewing •Chemist sketch •Words not to be used again •After-shave •Vox pops •Police Constable •Pan-Am

Episode 18: Live from the Grill-o-mat
    • Live from the Grill-o-Mat snack bar •Paignton • "Blackmail"• Society for Putting Things on top of Other Things •Escape (from film)• Current affairs •Accidents sketch •Seven Brides for Seven Brothers •The man who is alternately rude and polite •Documentary on boxer

Episode 19: It's a Living
    • "It's a Living"• The time on BBC I •School prize-giving •"if" - a film by Mr Dibley • "Rear Window" - a film by Mr Dibley • "Finian's Rainbow" (starring the man from the off-icence)• Foreign Secretary • Dung •Dead Indian •Timmy Williams interview •Raymond Luxury Yacht interview • Registry office •Election Night Special (Silly and Sensible Parties)

Episode 20: The Attila the Hun Show
    • "The Attila the Hun Show"• Attila the Nun •Secretary of State striptease •Vox pops on politicians •Ratcatcher • Wainscotting • Killer sheep •The news for parrots •The news for gibbons •Today in Parliament •The news for wombats •Attila the Bun •The Idiot in Society • Test match •The Epson furniture race •"Take Your Pick"

Episode 21: Archaeology Today Episode 22: How to Recognize Different Parts of the Body
    • "How to recognize different parts of the body"• Bruces • Naughty bits •The man who contradicts people •Cosmetic surgeryCamp square-bashing •Cut-price airline •Batley Townswomen's Guild presents the first heart transplant •The first underwater production of "Measure for Measure •" The death of Mary Queen of Scots •Exploding penguin on TV set •There's been a murder •Europolice Song Contest •"Bing Tiddle Tiddle Bong" (song)

Episode 23: Scott of the Antarctic Episode 24: How Not to Be Seen
    Conquistador coffee campaign •Repeating groove •Ramsay MacDonald striptease •Job hunter •Agatha Christie sketch (railway timetables)• Mr Neville Shunte •Film director (teeth)• City gents vox pops •"Crackpot Religions Ltd"• "How not to be seen"• Crossing the Atlantic on a tricycle •Interview in filing cabinet •"Yummy yummy"• Monty Python's Flying Circus again in thirty seconds

Episode 25: Spam
    • "The Black Eagle"•Dirty Hungarian phrasebook • Court (phrasebook) Communist quiz •"Ypres 1914" -- abandoned •Art gallery strike •"Ypres 1914" -- abandoned •Hospital for over-actors •Gumby flower arranging •Spam

Episode 26: Royal Episode 13
    • The Queen will be watching •Coal mine (historical argument)• The man who says things in a very roundabout way •The man who speaks only the ends of words •The man who speaks only the beginnings of words •The man who speaks only the middles of words •Commercials •How to feed a goldfish •The man who collects birdwatcher's eggs •Insurance sketch •Hospital run by RSM • Mountaineer •Exploding version of "The Blue Danube"• Girls' boarding school •Submarine Lifeboat (cannibalism)• Undertaker's sketch

Episode 27
    • Court scene -- multiple murderer •Icelandic saga •Court scene (Viking)• Stock exchange report •Mrs Premise and Mrs Conclusion •Whicker Island
Episode 28
    • Emigration from Surbiton to Hounslow • Schoolboys' Life Assurance Company •How to rid the world of all known diseases •Mrs Niggerbaiter explodes •Vicar/salesman • Farming Club •"Life of Tschaikowsky"• Trim-Jeans Theatre • Fish-slapping dance •World War I •The BBC is short of money •Puss in Boots

Episode 29
    • "The Money Programme" "There is nothing quite so wonderful as money" (song) Erizabeth L •Fraud film squad •Salvation fuzz •Jungle restaurant •Apology for violence and nudity •Ken Russell's "Gardening Club"• The Lost World of Roiurama • Six more minutes of Monty Python's Flying CircusArgument clinic •Hitting on the head lessons •Inspector Flying Fox of the Yard •One more minute of Monty Python's Flying Circus

Episode 30
    • "Blood, Devastation, Death, War and Horror"•The man who speaks in anagrams •Anagram quiz •Merchant banker •Pantomime horses •Life and death struggles •Mary recruitment office •Bus conductor sketch •The man who makes people laugh uncontrollably •Army captain as clown •Gestures to indicate pauses in a televised talk •Neurotic announcers •The news with Richard Baker •"The Pantomime Horse is a Secret Agent film"

Episode 31
    • "Summarize Proust Competition"• Everest climbed by hairdressers •Fire brigade •Our Eamonn • "Party Hints" with Veronica Smalls • Language laboratory •Travel agent •Watney's Red Barrel •Theory on Brontosauruses by Anne Elk (Miss)

Episode 32
    • Tory Housewives Clean-up Campaign •Gumby brain specialist •Molluscs -- "live" TV documentary •The Minister for not listening to people • Tuesday documentary/children's story/party political broadcast
    Apology (politicians)• Expedition to Lake Pahoe • The silliest interview we've ever had •The silliest sketch we've ever done

Episode 33
    • Biggles dictates a letter •Climbing the north face of the Uxbridge Road •Lifeboat • Old Lady snoopers • "Storage jars"• The show so far •Cheese shop •Philip Jenkinson on Cheese Western •Sam Peckinpah's "Salad Days"• Apology •The news with Richard Baker •Seashore interlude film

Episode 34
    • Mr Pither • Clodagh Rogers •Trotsky • Smolensk • Bingo-crazed Chinese •"Jack in a Box"

Episode 35
    • Bomb on plane •A naked man •Ten seconds of sex •Housing project built by characters from nineteenth-century English literature •MI interchange built by characters from "Paradise Lost"• Mystico and Janet -- flats built by hypnosis •"Mortuary Hour"• The Olympic hide-and-seek final •The Cheap-Laughs •Bull fighting •The British Well-Basically Club •Prices on the planet Algon

Episode 36
    Tudor jobs agency •Pornographic bookshop • Elizabethan pornography smugglers •Silly disturbances (the Rev. Arthur Belling)• The free repetition of doubtful words sketch, by an underrated author •"Is there?"Šlife after death? •The man who says words in the wrong order •Thripshaw's disease •Silly noises • Sherry-drinking vicar

Episode 37
    • "Boxing Tonight" -- Jack Bodell v. Sir Kenneth Clark •Dennis Moore • Lupins • What the stars foretell •Doctor •"TV4 or not TV4" discussion•Ideal Loon Exhibition •Off-License • "Prejudice"

Episode 38
    •Party Political Broadcast (choreographed)• "A Book at Bedtime"• "Redgauntlet"• Kamikaze Scotsmen •No time to lose • Penguins •BBC programme planners •Unexploded Scotsman •"Spot the Loony"• Rival documentaries •"Dad's Doctors" (trail)• "Dad's Pooves" (trail)

Episode 39
    • Thames TV introduction •"Light Entertainment Awards"• Dickie Attenborough • Oscar Wilde sketch •David Niven's fridge • Pasolini's film "The Third Test match"• New brain from Curry's •Blood donor •International Wife-Swapping •Credits of the Year •The dirty vicar sketch

Episode 40: The Golden Age of Ballooning Episode 41
    • Department store •Buying an ant •At home with the ant and other pets •Documentary on ants •Ant communication •Poetry reading (ants)• Toupee •Different endings

Episode 42
    • "Up Your Pavement"• RAF banter •Trivializing the war •Courtmartial • Basingstoke in Westphalia • "Anything Goes In" (song)• Film trailer •The public are idiots •Programme titles conference •The last five miles of the M2 •Woody and tinny words •Show-jumping (musical)• Newsflash (Germans)• "When Does A Dream Begin?" (song)

Episode 43
    • Bogus psychiatrists •"Nationwide"• Police helmets •Father-in-law • Hamlet and Ophelia • Boxing match aftermath •Boxing commentary •Piston engine (a bargain)• A room in Polonius's house •Dentists • Live from Epsom •Queen Victoria Handicap

Episode 44
    • Post box ceremony •Teddy Salad (CIA agent)• "Conjuring Today"

Episode 45
    • Most Awful Family in Britain •Icelandic Honey Week •A doctor whose patients are stabbed by his nurse •Brigadier and Bishop •Appeal on behalf of extremely rich people •The man who finishes other people's sentences •David Attenborough • The walking tree of Dahomey •The Batsmen of the Kalahari •Cricket match (assegais)•BBC News (handovers)

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