Monty Python's Flying Circus

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In the front: Terry Jones, John Cleese and Michael Palin. Behind them: Graham Chapman, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam. Not Shown: Sir Not Appearing in This Photo.
"One of the things we tried to do with the show was to try and do something that was so unpredictable that it had no shape and you could never say what the kind of humor was. And I think that the fact that 'Pythonesque' is now a word in the Oxford English Dictionary shows the extent to which we failed."
Terry Jones at the US Comedy Arts Festival, 1998

And now for something completely different... It's...

Monty Python's Flying Circus is a British sketch comedy television series featuring the comedy troupe Monty Python that originally aired on the BBC from 1969 to 1974. The success of its uniquely surreal lunacy has also generated four spinoff films to date, each featuring the same troupe in multiple roles before and behind the camera.

In its native country the show is considered by many to be the best British television program ever made, with the Pythons themselves regarded as essentially The Beatles of comedy (Paul McCartney and George Harrison were in fact huge fans). Monty Python invaded America with rebroadcasts on local PBS stations, two ABC late-night specials in 1975 and a 1988 video release. They found a relatively small but devoted and appreciative audience stateside and influenced many American sketch comedy series over the years. On either side of the Atlantic, the show is now so firmly entrenched in pop-culture that quoting a line from almost any sketch or one of the films triggers either a hail of quotes or a chorus of groans.

The show became so popular abroad that in 1971 and 1972 the Pythons produced two special episodes for West German and Austrian television under the title Monty Pythons fliegender Zirkus at the Bavaria studios in Munich. The first was done in German (memorized phonetically as none of them spoke the language), the second in English, and consisted mostly of material not seen before (although there is a German version of the Lumberjack song). An English-language motion picture, And Now for Something Completely Different, featuring remakes of many sketches from the series, was released while the series was still on the air.

After their original run ended, the Python troupe made besides their own films many more in various non-Python-related collaborations, and all its members went on to continued success in film, television and other media. However Monty Python, as a troupe, disbanded upon the death of member Graham Chapman.

As noted above, the show's seemingly random but actually highly sophisticated humour has spawned its own adjective -- Pythonesque. Anything can happen during any given sketch, and usually does. Sketches end without punchlines, or the Pythons sometimes just stop mid-sketch and declare it all to be "too silly". Although the Pythons weren't the first to use these methods, they made them into an art form: postmodern, self-referential comedy, punctuated by Gilliam's absurdist animations and starring a whole lot of odd men in drag.

Thanks for some of the description go to Monty Python's Completely Useless Web Site, which has loads of current information on the cast, clips, and a supply of original scripts.


Some of the most famous sketches are:
  • Anne Elk's Theory on Brontosauruses ("My theory, which belongs to me, is mine -- sneeze! sneeze!")
  • Argument Clinic ("Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position." "Yes, but that's not just saying 'no, it isn't'!" "Yes, it is!" "No, it isn't!" *Beat*)
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Assurance of health, welfare and jaywalking.
  • Bruce Sketch/Philosopher's Song (Immanuel Kant was a real piss-ant...)
  • Cheese Shop (The Long List ending with A Senseless Waste Of Human Life "I'm afraid I'm going to have to shoot you now.")
  • Dead Parrot ("This is an ex-parrot!")
  • The Restaurant Sketch, aka: Dirty Fork (You probably shouldn't mention it.)
  • Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook (Which gave us "My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels")
  • Four Yorkshiremen (Which was not written for MPFC, but was instead created for At Last The 1948 Show, in which Cleese and Chapman starred along with future Goodie Tim Brooke-Taylor and Young Frankenstein's Marty Feldman. Its use in other Python stuff has led to many attributing it mistakenly to Python.)
  • Lumberjack Song ("I put on women's clothing and hang around in bars... I wish I'd been a girlie, just like my dear Mama Papa!")
  • Nudge Nudge ("Know what I mean? Know what I mean?")
  • Penguin Sketch
  • Self-Defense Against Fresh Fruit ("No point-ed stick?" "SHUT UP.")
  • Spanish Inquisition ("NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!" "Fetch... the comfy chair!")
  • Spam ("Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, LOVELY SPAM!! WONDERFUL SPAM!! LOVELY SPAM!! WONDERFUL SPAM!!"): Yes, Monty Python unwittingly inspired the current usage of the word spam in terms of e-mail!
  • Sergeant Major (Marching up and down the square... alone.)
  • The Ministry of Silly Walks ("It's not particularly silly, is it? I mean, the right leg isn't silly at all and the left leg merely does a forward aerial half turn every alternate step.")
  • Upper Class Twit of the Year (Kick the beggar and insult the waiter.)
  • The Funniest Joke in the World ("Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! ... Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!"). We have the translated version. (It's not really that funny, but check the footnote if you would like to know)[1]
  • The Colonel (Would appear in the middle of a sketch, declare it to be silly, and tell everyone to leave. "I've noticed a tendency for this program to get rather silly.")
  • The knight with a chicken, similar to the Colonel, would appear at random times and smack someone over the head with it. One of the most genius things about this is that although it was a running gag, they avoided overusing it, and therefore made it last quite some time.
  • Fish Schlapping
  • Gumby Brain Surgery ("MY BRAIN HURTS! WE FORGOT THE ANESTHETIC!!")
  • Undertaker Sketch (So controversial, the BBC only barely allowed it to air.)
  • How Not To Be Seen. If you've not watched the sketch, can you Stand Up Please. Boom! Headshot!!

Monty Python's Flying Circus is the Trope Namer for:

Tropes used in Monty Python's Flying Circus include:
  • Action Survivor: Parodied in the "Science Fiction Sketch", which paints average-Joe, loser Angus Podgorny as the everyman who survives the Blancmanges and goes on to defeat them; during the final battle, the Wimbledon tennis final, Angus gets his ass handed to him by a Blancmange.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Arguably some of the Python records have funnier versions of the sketches than the TV series.
  • Affably Evil: The apologetic mass murderer.
  • All Just a Dream: Subverted in Cycling Tour. "So it was all a dream." "No, this is the dream, you are back in the cell."
  • Always a Bigger Fish: "The Dentist Sketch" featured a man held at gunpoint by an evil dentist, who is then disarmed and both are held by another evil dentist with a gun, followed by another evil dentist with a sub-machine gun, and another evil dentist with a bazooka. The whole lot of them are surprised by the appearance of "the Big Cheese", who intends to put them all "under the drill".
  • Ambiguously Gay: Mr. & Mrs. & Mrs. Zambizi are a woman (Mrs. Zambizi) married to either a transvestite man, or another woman who occasionally acts like a man (Mr. & Mrs. Zambizi).
  • And Starring: "The Buzz Aldrin Show" has a fake credits sequence that includes "AND INTRODUCING F. B. GRIMSBY URQHART-WRIGHT AS THE VOICE OF GOD".
  • Anticlimax: Done deliberately with the much hyped Page 71! of the second Python book: It's just a page with PAGE 71! written on it in huge letters. Followed by a reviews page; "Oh, what a disappointment."
  • Apathetic Citizens: Taken Up to Eleven in the The Dull Life of a Stockbroker skit, in which said stockbroker walks by a native African spearing his neighbour, a completely nude corner store attendant (uncensored, that is), Frankenstein's Monster killing multiple people from behind, WW 2, a driverless cab, a backstabbed murder victim, a dangling suicide victim and an orgy on his working desk (latter three were in the same room).
  • Appeal to Nature: The owner of the Whizzo Chocolate Company takes pride in his company's policy of using only natural ingredients in their chocolate, like raw, boned, baby frogs, lamb's bladder and lark's vomit. Suggesting that "Crunchy Frog" contains a mock frog like an almond whirl is a Berserk Button for him. Which becomes Blatant Lies when he comments that lark's vomit is in the ingredients list, right after monosodium glutamate.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Played for laughs; John Cleese's policeman is quite happy to believe in the existence of tennis playing blancmanges, but refuses to believe that five people could play mixed doubles.
  • Aren't You Going to Arrest Me?: The incompetent smuggler gets frustrated when the customs official isn't going to arrest him, and he eventually gets taken away for causing a disturbance rather than smuggling.
  • Artistic License Animal Care: According to the "Fish Club" sketch, goldfish have a ravenous appetite and eat sausages, spring greens, gazpacho, bread and gravy.

Announcer: (with text on screen) The RSPCA wishes it to be known that that man was not a bona-fide animal lover, and also that goldfish do not eat sausages.
Fish Club Man: Treacle tart!
Announcer: Shut up! They are quite happy with bread crumbs, ants eggs and (text shows "And the occasional pheasant" crossed out)... who wrote that?!

  • Artistic License Economics: Dennis Moore tries to alleviate poverty by stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, but his first attempt involves stealing lupins (a type of flower); after he is told lupins are worthless and to steal valuable things, he does such a good job that he bankrupts the aristocrats, and makes a peasant family wealthy. And then the poor family complain when he can only bring them what's left of what originally belonged to the rich (mostly silverware).
  • Aside Glance: The cast members regularly did this, usually to express their disbelief with the situation.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign
  • Ass Shove: In the "Military Court Martial" sketch, the presiding general keeps diverting the prosecutor with questions about minor details, like why the accused was presented with a special pair of gaiters from his regiment; the prosecutor tries to answer in the most polite way possible until...

General: I want to know how he made them happy.
Prosecutor: HE USED TO RAM THINGS UP THEIR...
General: All right, all right, all right, no need to spell it out!

  • Attack of the Killer Blancmanges: Two of Gilliam's animations involved Killer Cars and Killer Houses.
  • Audience Participation: "Spot the Looney!"
  • Backhanded Apology: An Overly Long Gag in episode 32.
  • Badass Normal: Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Brainsample, until they reveal they are from another planet.
  • Badass Preacher: "The Bishop". (Well, he tries to be one, anyway.)
  • Bad Liar: In the Customs sketch, a smuggler has a suitcase full of Swiss watches.
  • Battle Strip: In "Scott of the Sahara", Ensign Oates stripped all his clothes off as he fights the giant electric penguin.
  • Bawdy Song: Several.
  • Bedroom Adultery Scene: "Strangers in the Night"
  • Billy Elliot Plot: Brilliantly inverted in one sketch; instead of a coal mining father with black lung disapproving of his son going into theater, it's a playwright father with writer's cramp disapproving of his son working in the coal mines.
  • Biting the Hand Humor: The BBC would be better off if it was run by penguins.
  • Blackmail: The eponymous gameshow in the eponymous sketch. Compromising footage of people has been obtained by the producers, the footage covering the whole gamut of embarassment potential from evidence of homosexuality to evidence of multiple child sex offences. If the subject doesn't pay a significant amount of money, relevant parties such as spouses and the police will be informed. "That's £3000 for us not to reveal what happened, the names of the three other people involved, the youth organisation to which they belonged, and the shop where you bought the equipment."
  • Blatant Lies
    • Mr. Anemone, the flying man is not hanging from the ceiling on a clearly visible wire. And he is not committing Implausible Deniability when he has to break a hoop that he flips over himself to prove that's he's not on a wire.
    • The smuggler who is trying to sneak Swiss watches and clocks in his luggage can't tell a convincing lie to save his life, his lies get more and more outrageous as the customs officer toys with him; then his "vest" goes off.
  • Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: The Cheese Shop Sketch. Monty Python was also the Trope Namer by way of Life of Brian.
  • Blessed with Suck: Mr. Horton, the man who makes people laugh, even when he's serious and miserable.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Parodied and taken hilariously Up to Eleven in the "Salad Days" sketch, which is a supposed film version of the incredibly twee, upperclass, turn-of-the-century stage play -- Directed by Sam Peckinpah. Bloody Hilarious.
  • Bowdlerise: Bowdlerisation ruined the "Summarize Proust" sketch by cutting out the marginally offensive punchline of one joke ("What are your hobbies?" "Strangling animals, golf, and masturbating") but leaving the remainder of the joke intact, completely disrupting the rhythm of the piece.
  • Blowing a Raspberry: Napoleon Bonaparte in a sketch about a man with people living in his stomach.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: John Cleese is most definitely this out of the group, being not only the tallest, but also the loudest and most intimidating of them all, as seen in the "Self-Defence Against Fresh Fruit" and "Dirty Fork" sketches.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The Lumberjack Song is possibly the most famous version.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Characters would sometimes talk directly to the audience.
  • Brick Joke: Many sketches were referred to later during the same episode, sometimes even later episodes. And like the original brick joke, many earlier scenes started making sense only later on.
    • A notable example is "The Larch" sketch in "How to Recognize Different Types of Tree from Quite a Long Way Away", where the present shows the audience a picture of a larch over and over again. This is repeated over the course of the show, and seems to serve no purpose until the end credits, when one of the trees in the background is, indeed, a larch.
  • Brown Note: The funniest joke in the world.
  • Bury Your Gays: Why Biggles killed Algy, and the Prejudice sketch with "Shoot the Poof".
  • Butt Monkey: If the Pythons ever needed to drop a name, regardless of connotations, it tended to be "Maudling"; Reginald Maudling was a notable MP who faced a lot of scandal in his later career.
  • Calvin Ball: The game show It's a Living: "The rules are very simple: each week we get a large fee; at the end of that week we get another large fee; if there's been no interruption at the end of the year we get a repeat fee which can be added on for tax purposes to the previous year or the following year if there's no new series."
  • Camp Gay: A frequent source of humor in the show's early days, something about which Terry Jones later expressed regret. It has to be said that Graham Chapman was a real life Invisible to Gaydar who hated this stereotype. Also, when Graham first came out, Barry Took advised the team that the worst thing they could do was to stop making gay jokes.
  • Captain Oblivious
    • Mr. Pither from "Cycling Tour" just doesn't understand that no-one is interested in his cycling tour. The most Egregious case is a couple who are arguing over their relationship problems: his interference leads to the woman dumping the man; the man throws him out of the restaurant, which he just shrugs off; and when he passes the woman who is crying her eyes out, he comments that he had a "chat with her dad" before taking off.
    • Also, Ron Obvious (who, oddly enough, is not a Captain Obvious, despite his name). He never notices that his agent is trying to get him to do crazy stunts, despite his increasingly massive injuries, until he finally dies from one of them. Which the agent tries to claim is another stunt.
  • Cartoon Bomb: Given to the "It's" man at the beginning of a show, it explodes at the end.
  • Catch Phrase: "It's...", "And now for something completely different", and others. In fact, the latter phrase was originally from Blue Peter, but is only now associated with Python.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: The lion in "Scott of the Sahara".
  • Character Filibuster: Mr. Smoke-Too-Much, of the "Travel Agent" sketch, whose Meaningful Name has never even occurred to him before.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: One cartoon parodied the original Charles Atlas, showing that in a fight, big muscles are no match against big muzzles.
  • Chatty Hairdresser: Subverted. "The Barber Sketch" contains a barber who pretends to be one of these, but both the chatting and the haircutting are only on tape.
  • Cheating with the Milkman
    • A milkman approaches the door and is greeted by a negligee wearing woman who invites him inside; instead of bringing him in for sex, she locks him in the bedroom as part of her collection.
    • Played straight with Wombat Harness, the man who reads people's poets, and a woman who wants him to take her where "eternity knows no bounds".
  • Chekhov's Gunman: After "a brief and misleading appearance in the early part of the film", it's Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Brainsample who ultimately defeat the Blancmanges.
  • Chewing the Scenery: The padre from the Ypres sketch, which lands him in a hospital that treats overacting.
  • Cliffhanger Copout: In "Cycling Tour", Mr. Pither and Mr. Gulliver find themselves in Soviet Russia facing a firing squad, who after several failed attempts at shooting Mr. Pither, attach bayonets to their guns, and try to run them through. We don't get to see how they escape, instead we get a caption noting a missing scene, and then the two men appear back in Britain, safe and sound.
  • Closing Credits: Played with in all but two episodes.
    • Of particular note is the episode "The Golden Age of Ballooning", where the closing credits ran about halfway through the show.
    • The next episode, "Michael Ellis", went one step further. The end credits ran immediately after the Title Sequence. That is, less than 30 seconds into the show.
    • See also Title Sequence, below.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: Inverted in show 3 with a city populated by men dressed as Superman. Only one of them -- F.G. Superman -- is actually Bicycle Repair Man, who comes in to the rescue whenever a bicycle breaks down.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Pick a character. Any character. (Averted with Arthur Putey.)
  • Comedy as a Weapon: The "World's Funniest Joke" sketch.
  • Comic Sutra: "With a melon??"
  • Comically Missing the Point

John Cleese: It was from such an unlikely beginning as an unwanted fungus accidentally growing on a sterile plate that Sir Alexander Fleming gave the world penicillin. James Watt watched an ordinary household kettle boiling and conceived the potentiality of steam power. Would Albert Einstein ever have hit upon the Theory of Relativity if he hadn't been clever? All of these tremendous leaps forward have been taken in the dark; would Rutherford ever have split the atom if he hadn't tried? Could Marconi have invented the radio if he hadn't by pure chance spent years working at the problem? Are these amazing breakthroughs ever achieved except by years and years of unlimiting study? Of course not. What I said earlier about accidental discoveries must have been wrong.

    • Also the logician's view of the Witch burning scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail from the soundtrack album. In a nutshell, sex is more fun than logic.
  • The Comically Serious: The Colonel, who stops sketches for being silly.
  • Complaining About Complaining: the Déjà Vu episode got tied up with people complaining, then someone complained about another person's complaint, and then someone else complained about people complaining about people who complain, and insists that something should be done about it. Cue the 16-ton weight.
  • Constantly Curious: Arthur Lemming in the dentist sketch is a man who gets caught in the middle of an unraveling conspiracy of evil dentists, and he occasionally asks one of the evil dentists what is going on. The end of the sketch reveals that Lemming is a dentist from the British Dental Association who was spying on them.
  • Crosscast Role: All the Pythons dress up as women at least once. Terry Jones and Graham Chapman specialized in squeaky-voiced elderly ratbags, whereas Michael Palin and Eric Idle portrayed rather convincing middle-aged women, and John Cleese and Terry Gilliam were simply bizarre.
    • Subverted in the "Piranha Brothers" sketch. So used are we at this point to seeing the Pythons as women that it comes as a bit of a shock when John Cleese, playing a gangster's moll, announces "Dinsdale was a gentleman. And what's more, he knew how to treat a female impersonator".
  • Cultural Translation: A few sketches were redone by the German comedy duo of Harald Juhnke and Eddi Arent. The one sketch about the difficult book shop customer gets a justification tacked on: Because the salesman's mother owns the shop and has threatened him that she'll disinherit him and give the shop to his brother if he doesn't manage to sell at least one book -- that's the explanation why he puts up with the customer neither being able to pay the book nor to read it. And the famous "Dead Parrot" sketch becomes... brace yourself... upped to eleven (this was probably the intention) with the dead parrot replaced by a plush parrot. And at the end, when the customer points out that the "parrot" he bought is "just a toy", the salesman states philosophically "Aren't we all but God's toys, somehow?", turning around and revealing that he's a wind-up android.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: The boxing match between The Champ and The Killer; The Champ lost his head twice in two separate bouts, he won the second when The Killer was disqualified.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: The Piranha Brothers tended to nail peoples' heads to the floor, or a coffee table.
  • David Versus Goliath: Ensign Oates vs. the 20-foot-tall Electric Penguin in "Scott of the Antarctic".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Eric Praline. One of the few examples that combines this with Cloudcuckoolander.
  • Death Seeker: The McKamikaze Highlanders
  • Derailed for Details: Common. Just in the Dennis Moore sketch, John Cleese gets lost in discussions about his target practice, British botany, European history, human anatomy and Not Actually the Ultimate Question while trying to rob some nobles.
  • Did Not Do the Research: Occurs and is corrected within the show. A sketch shows a gentleman piloting a commercial aircraft after two years of training; a BALPA [2] spokesman interrupts to point out that it takes six years to become a fully qualified airline pilot. The sketch restarts with a corrected caption.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Eric Idle played a Scotsman who stormed into an airplane cockpit, leading to this exchange:

Scotsman: There's a bomb on board this plane, and I'll tell you where it is for £1,000.
Co-pilot: I don't believe you.
Scotsman: If you don't tell me where the bomb is... if I don't give you the money... Unless you give me the bomb...
Flight Attendant: The money?
Scotsman: The money, thank you pretty lady. The bomb will explode killing everybody.
Co-pilot: Including you.
(Beat)
Scotsman: I'll tell you where it is for a pound.

There once was an enchanted Prince, who lived beyond the wobbles.
One day he noticed a spot on his face.
Foolishly he ignored it and three years later died of GANGRENE.

  • Disorganized Outline Speech: "Our two weapons are fear and surprise and a ruthless efficiency..."
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The "Self-Defense against Fresh Fruit" sketch.
  • Distracting Disambiguation
  • The Ditz: The Gumbys
  • Does Not Like Spam: Mrs. Bun in the Spam sketch, though her husband and the singing vikings love it.
  • Don't Like, Don't Eat: In the "Spam" sketch, Mrs. Bun tries to order one of the spam-filled dishes with the spam removed, and argues with the waitress over it, despite there being two items on the menu with no spam in them, one of which was exactly what she was trying to order.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty
    • Sgt. Major from the "Self-Defense against Fresh Fruit" sketch
    • Also the first doctor from the "RSM Hospital" sketch.
  • Drop the Cow: Holy Grail is the Trope Namer, but Flying Circus still had 16-ton weights, giant hammers, and a knight with a chicken.
  • Dying Like Animals: The police when attempting to re-enact a murder.
  • Everything Explodes Ending: One of the many ways they Drop the Cow.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins
    • One on the telly (that explodes).
    • A giant one with electrified tentacles.
    • Plus the penguins who are smarter than BBC programme planners.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: One sketch involved a man trying to get the head of a bank to donate a pound to Orphans, with the banker being utterly mystified at the concept of charity.
  • Experimental Archeology: "Mr. and Mrs. Brian Norris's Ford Popular".
  • Failed Attempt At Drama: The Spanish Inquisition
  • Fake American: Many cases. John Cleese does a laughable cowboy voice. Even Terry Gilliam, who is American, had trouble sounding like it
  • Fan Service: The episode "How to Recognize Different Parts of the Body" started with a lineup of beautiful women in bikinis, leading to John Cleese and the It's Man, also in bikinis.
  • Fauxshadow
    • No we never do meet Mr. Belpit, nor do we find out why his legs are so swollen.
    • The title character of the episode "Michael Ellis". An animated television biologist calls the main character "Mr. Ellis", but the end of the sketch shows he's not Michael Ellis.
  • Fictional Political Party: In the "Election Night Special" sketch, covering the 1970 UK General Election, all elections are mainly contested by two parties, the Sensible Party and the Silly Party; the Slightly Silly Party and Very Silly Party both vouch candidates in a few districts as well.
  • Fighting Irish: "Bookshop Sketch": 101 Ways to Start a Fight by "an Irish gentleman whose name eludes me."
  • Le Film Artistique: "Le Fromage Grand" (which is French for "the big cheese")
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences
  • Freudian Slippery Slope: "Good evening. I'd like to talk to you tonight about the place of the nude in my bed... um... in the history of my bed -- of art, of art! I'm sorry. The place of the nude in the history of tart -- call girl -- I'm sorry, I'll start again. (pauses, takes deep breath) Bum. Oh, what a giveaway, I'm sorry... the place of the nude in art..."
  • Freud Was Right: An actor playing Hamlet is depressed because he is bored with life and wants to become a private dick (detective), hoping to get fame, money, glamour, excitement, and sex; all the psychiatrists and other people around him jump on the "sex" part.
  • Fruit of the Loon: "Self-Defense Against Fresh Fruit."
  • The Fun in Funeral: The funeral of the only deceased Python member to date, Graham Chapman, went about as you'd expect:

John Cleese: Graham Chapman, co-author of the Parrot Sketch, is no more. He has ceased to be, bereft of life, he rests in peace, he has kicked the bucket, hopped the twig, bit the dust, snuffed it, breathed his last, and gone to meet the Great Head of Light Entertainment in the sky. And I guess that we're all thinking how sad it is that a man of such talent, of such capability for kindness, for such unusual intelligence, a man who could overcome his alcoholism with such truly admirable single-mindedness, should now so suddenly be spirited away at the age of only forty-eight before he'd achieved many of the things in which he was capable, and before he'd had enough fun. Well, I feel that I should say, "Nonsense! Good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard, I hope he fries!" And the reason I feel I should say this is he would never forgive me if I didn't. If I threw away this glorious opportunity to shock you all on his behalf. Anything for him but mindless good taste. I could hear him whispering in my ear last night as I was writing this, "Alright, Cleese," he was saying, "You're very proud of being the very first person ever to say 'shit' on British television; if this service is really for me -- just for starters -- I want you to become the first person ever at a British memorial service to say 'fuck'."

After that, Eric Idle sang "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life".

Eric Idle: I'd just like to be the last person at this meeting to say "fuck"...

  • Fun with Foreign Languages: The show contains the trope-naming sketch for My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels.
  • Garden Hose Squirt Surprise: In "The Wacky Queen", Queen Victoria does this to Gladstone.
  • Gender Flip: In "Scott of the Antarctic/Sahara", one of his men was changed to Miss Evans, for the blatant Fan Service.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Listed here.
  • Getting Hot in Here: Done twice.
    • In one intro, a woman in her apartment used the line and stripped, she got to her bra when John Cleese entered the frame to start the show.
    • In another sketch, after Ramsay MacDonald is re-elected Prime Minister he returns to 10 Downing Street, says the line, and strips, showing that he's wearing women's underwear.
  • Getting the Boot: Happens to Mr. Pither during the Cycling Tour sketch.
  • Godzilla Threshold: When Mr. Neutron goes missing, it is treated like this by the U.S. Army, specifically F.E.E.B.L.E. and F.E.A.R.
  • Gorn
    • "It's got a nice woody sound, 'gooooorn'."
    • "Salad Days"
    • Actual Gorn shows up in the films.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: In the "Explorer's Sketch", four explorers are dining at a jungle restaurant when it is attacked, but we don't get to see the attack; we are told by an announcer that it was very gory, and due to the unsuitability of the scene, we are shown a clip from "Ken Russell's Gardening Club (1958)", which instead of gorn, is porn.
  • Gossipy Hens: The Pepperpots
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Ministry of Silly Walks
  • Groin Attack: A nun kicks a policeman in the groin and Inspector Leopard knees a policeman in the 'nads.
  • Happiness Is Mandatory: The fairy-tale kingdom of Happy Valley. The subjects were always happy all the time because, by royal decree, anyone who wasn't happy would be put to death. One subject whose wife had just died is seen being arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to hang by the neck until he cheers up.
  • Hates Small Talk: "Vocational Guidance Counsellor" sketch has this exchange between Palin and Cleese (no prizes for guessing who plays what):

Counsellor: Ah, Mr Anchovy! Do sit down.
Mr Anchovy: Thank you. Take the weight off the feet, eh? Lovely weather for the time of year I must say!
Counsellor: Enough of this gay banter.

  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Eric Praline starts his new chat show by introducing us to his co-host Brooky, who is also his flat mate, and nothing else, he'd like to emphasize that.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: In the Storytime sketch. "...with a melon?!"
  • Hey, That's My Line!: In the "Explorer's Sketch" at the British Explorer's Club, "Our Hero" approaches the counter and asks the porter if there's been word from Betty Bailey's expedition; the actor playing the porter hasn't rehearsed, and starts reading the wrong lines from the script, getting the response from the explorer.
  • Hidden Depths: The Pepperpots. Despite supposedly being squeaky voiced caricatures of lower middle class housewives; they always show an enormous amount of knowledge of history, philosophy and art (One sketch concerned an argument about the real meaning of Jean Paul Satre's work; apparently they were on first name terms with his wife).
  • Hold Up Your Score
  • Hot Mom: Mrs. Attila the Hun from "The Attila the Hun Show", a Hot Amazon in a Stripperific Fur Bikini.
  • Human Ladder: "Archeology Today"
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms: Arguably the Trope Codifier. According to John Cleese, the Parrot Sketch was partly inspired by a thesaurus' list of synonyms for "died": "He's not pining, he's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! He's expired and gone to meet his maker! He's a stiff! Bereft of life, he rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed him to the perch he'd be pushing up the daisies! His metabolic processes are now history! He's off the twig! He's kicked the bucket, he's shuffled off his mortal coil, rung down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!"
  • Hypocritical Humor: shows up constantly, though none more so in the Argument Clinic sketch where the actors in said sketch are accused of taking part in a sketch with intent of inflicting grievous mental confusion. It's later lampshaded when the policeman who comes in to arrest them for this is himself arrested for the same crime.
  • I Am Not Shazam
    • This was almost averted since Michael Palin's original idea (which is such a great idea that it may itself count as a Crowning Moment of Awesome) was to call it "Gwen Dibley's Flying Circus" after a neighbor of his named Gwen Dibley, because wouldn't it be great to give someone their own TV show without them knowing about it?
    • Played with in the 30th Anniversary Special, when Idle presents a mock biography of the non-existent Mr. Python.
    • Further played with in the playbills for Spamalot, which include a small bio for Monty Python in the "Cast & Crew Bios" section. The bio presents him as a faceless Man Behind the Man who secretly runs the troupe from the shadows, but admits outright that nobody knows if he even exists.

"Is he God or Godot, an agent of the devil or an agent of the William Morris Agency, or is he, as some have argued, a fictitious character invented in 1969 by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin in a desperate attempt to find a title for their rather silly TV show?"

  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: Scenes separated by long, animated sequences.
  • I Hear Them Too: Mr. Notlob goes to a psychiatrist because he keeps hearing music (mostly folk songs) everywhere he goes; the psychiatrist starts talking about auditory hallucinations, and is startled when he hears "We're All Going to the Zoo Tomorrow".
  • I'm a Humanitarian: "Royal Episode 13" has two back-to-back cannibalism sketches, the second one incited a (staged) riot from the audience.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: In the "Cycling Tour" episode, Palin is put in front of a firing squad, and everyone misses.
  • Impossible Insurance: The "Motor Insurance Sketch" is all about this.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The funniest joke in the world, which became used in warfare.
  • Improbably Low IQ: BBC programme planners scored 8 on a standardized IQ test, at least they understand how ridiculously high that is.

Prof. Rosewall: The BBC programme planners' surprisingly high total here can be explained away as being within the ordinary limits of statistical error. One particularly dim programme planner can cock the whole thing up. (Followed by superimposed title: "You can say that again!")

  • Improvised Platform: Described in the Lumberjack scene: "I always wanted... to be a lumberjack! Leaping from tree to tree, as they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia!"
  • Incessant Chorus: The Spam vikings. "Lovely Spam, wonderful Spaaaaam..." "Stupid Vikings!"
  • Incessant Music Madness: In the Cheese Shop sketch, when John Cleese's character enters, there are some guys playing Greek music and dancing. After several minutes of the annoying music in the background, he turns around and yells, "Will you shut that bloody dancing up!" and they stop playing.
  • Inflationary Dialogue: In the camel-spotting and Spanish Inquisition sketches.
  • Informed Ability
    • Mr. Neutron is supposed to be the most powerful man in the universe, but the only super power we actually see on screen is transforming Mrs. S.C.U.M.'s outfit; otherwise he is seen doing totally mundane things like gardening and hanging wallpaper in a non-super powered way. The entire sketch becomes this when it reaches a cliffhanger, and an announcer tells us about how expensive and special effects filled the ending is, only for the show to end without showing any of these scenes.
    • Inverted in the same sketch with Teddy Salad, an ex-CIA agent whose claim to fame is disguise, and is the only man able to find Neutron; when we meet him, he is disguised as a sled dog, and he knows exactly where Neutron is.
  • Informed Obscenity: After a sketch filled with naughty words, Michael Palin appears to show us a list of words that will not be tolerated on the program. After a list of (decidedly British) dirty words, the word "Semprini" appears. A woman then comes on screen and says, "Semprini?" prompting Michael to throw her out. Incidentally, the word is the last name of composer Alberto Semprini.
  • Inherently Funny Words: Spam, spam, spam, spam....
  • In Name Only: Parodied in the "Scott of the Antarctic" sketch.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune / Public Domain Theme Tune: "The Liberty Bell March", by John Philip Sousa. Today, it is inextricably linked to the Pythons.
  • I Thought Everyone Had Big Teeth: Martin Curry is a film director who makes films where every character has enormous teeth, this is because he has overly large teeth himself; and when asked by a normal toothed person about the dental appendages, he doesn't understand what's so odd. This is followed by several people with different abnormalities (man with large ears, man with large nose, man in drag) also thinking the film was weird, except for another person with big teeth who thought it was just fine.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: Subverted; usually it still doesn't make sense.
  • It's Been Done: Mr L F Dibley is a director who keeps making films that other people have already done (If, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rear Window); he claims that they are ripping him off, and that those high budget movies were "rushed out" while his were still at the chemist's (i.e. being developed).
  • Jack of All Trades: According to Eric Idle, out of the six regular Python members, Michael Palin has the most talent to be able to play the widest variety of characters out of them all, from the brainless Gumby to "manly" lumberjacks to boring civil servants to zealous Spanish inquisitors.
  • Japanese Ranguage: "Erizabeth L"
  • Jive Turkey: The "RAF Banter" sketch.
  • Jungle Drums: During the sketch with the jungle restaurant.
  • Just Like Making Love: The Bruces claim that American beer is like making love in a canoe: it's fucking close to water.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: Parodied by Dennis Moore, who first makes the mistake of stealing only lupins from the rich to give to the poor, and then steals so much else from the rich that the rich become poor and the poor become the new rich.
  • Just Plane Wrong: As the BALPA spokesman points out. Except for the plane door that opens without any decompression or anything. Then there's the whole "landing on hay bales" thing.
  • Just the Introduction to The Opposites: The gang of grannies, the "working-class playwright" and his estranged miner son.
  • Juxtaposition Gag
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Scott to the lion in "Scott of the Antarctic".
  • Killer Sheep: Arthur X, leader of the Pennine Gang.
  • Kill the Poor: This John Cleese vox pop:

Conservative MP: Well, I would destroy the lower classes, first with bombs and rockets destroying their homes and then when they run screaming into the streets, mowing them down with submachine guns. (beat) I know these views aren't popular, but I have never courted popularity.

  • If You Know What I Mean
    • "Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more, say no more"
    • "A nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat!"
  • Large Ham: In-universe, John Cleese's padre in the First World War sketch... so much so that he is taken to a hospital for "Over-acting".
  • Larynx Dissonance: If any of them could do a convincing woman's voice, they certainly didn't try it, since it wouldn't be as funny. Except Idle, who did sound like a middle-aged woman and was even funnier for it.
  • Last-Minute Reprieve: hilariously subverted when some guy is going to be executed by the Russians.
  • Laughably Evil: Despite all the sting chords and maniacal cackling, the Spanish Inquisition can't even get their lines straight, let alone intimidate anyone.
  • Laugh Track: Parodied in the "Interesting People" sketch, the announcer had a switch which could turn on canned applause whenever he needed it.
  • Lighter and Softer: "The Attila the Hun Show" turned the famous warlord into a Sitcom dad.
  • Literal Ass Kissing: The Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook is available at Her Majesty's Stationary Office for the price of a kiss on the bum.
  • London Gangster: The Piranha brothers. (A Shout-Out to the Real Life Kray twins) Not that anyone has anything bad to say about them. (start at 05:05)
  • Look Both Ways
    • In one intro, the It's Man tries to cross a street, but has to dodge to avoid several cars; he makes it to the other side, and is knocked over by a woman with a baby carriage.
    • There was also a vox pop segment where the interviewer tries to get an opinion from a "man in the street", who is promptly run over.
  • Losing Your Head: Graham Chapman once had his head cut off for use in a piece of animation.
  • Lovely Assistant: The Amazing Mystico and Janet put up housing blocks by hypnosis. (Janet is the Lovely Assistant.)
  • Made From Real Girl Scouts: The entire premise of the Crunchy Frog sketch.
  • Made of Plasticine: "Sam Peckinpah's Salad Days" has a peaceful summer scene ruined due to the participants all being this, accidentally maiming and dismembering each other.
  • The Mafia: Luigi Vercotti, occasionally accompanied by his brother Dino Vercotti; he also ran a Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club in the "Piranha Brothers" sketch.
  • Mandatory Line: "But it's my only line!"
  • Meatgrinder Surgery: Gumby Brain Surgery.
  • Medium Awareness
    • Medium Realization starting at 4:23 of the "Argument Clinic".
    • There's also the Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things: "Good lord! I'm on film. How did that happen?"
    • In the sketch titled "The Silliest Sketch We've Ever Done", at the end the actors just stop, remark to each other that it's the silliest sketch they've ever done, call if off, and walk off the set.
    • The end of the phonograph record version of "The Piranha Brothers": "Sorry, squire, I scratched the record." *click* "Sorry, squire, I scratched the record." *click* "Sorry, squire..."
    • The introduction of the soundtrack album of Holy Grail. Also the opening of Monty Python's Previous Record ("NOT THIS RECORD!")
  • Medium Blending: Terry Gilliam's cartoon segments.
  • Minion with an F In Evil: Cardinal Ximinez, head of the Spanish Inquisition, is not helped in his quest for legitimacy by subordinates Cardinal Biggles and Cardinal Fang.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Became a problem for "Scott of the Antarctic" as the film was going to have Scott fight a lion, until it is pointed out there are no lions in the Antarctic. Instead of losing the lion, which was in the contract, they switch locations to the Sahara desert, where they have lions and giant electric penguins with green tentacles that sting people.
  • Mistaken for Badass: In the "Dentist Sketch", an evil dentist mistakes a tobacconist for an agent of the BDA, and pulls a gun on him; it's subverted at the end when said tobacconist reveals himself as Arthur Lemming, Special Investigator from the British Dental Association.
  • Mistaken for Gay: One sketch occurred at a wedding chapel, where a rather confused clerk kept misinterpreting his patrons' desires to get married; it ended with five men getting married to each other.
  • Model Planning: In "The Architect Sketch".
  • Money Song: Trope Namer
  • Mood Swinger: The butcher who alternates between insulting and polite with each line.
  • Most Definitely Not a Villain: "Mr. Hilter" and his cronies.
  • Ms. Fanservice
    • Carol Cleveland, often used when the Pythons needed an actual woman, as opposed to Eric-in-drag. They called her "Carol Cleavage". She was a busty redhead.
    • Spike Milligan's Ms. Fanservice, Julia Breck, makes a guest appearance as "Puss in Boots" in the "Titanic Sinking" sketch.
  • Mugging the Monster: A pedestrian reveals multiple arms to defeat a mugger.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: See Mugging the Monster above.
  • The Musical
  • Musicalis Interruptus: The Proust song in the Proust-summarizing competition sketch.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Trope Namer.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: Raymond Luxury-Yacht, pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove".
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Mr. A-Sniveling-Little-Rat-Faced Git, played by Terry Jones who looks like it; then comes his wife Mrs. Dreary-Fat-Boring-Old Git, played by John Cleese in drag with his normal voice.
  • Never Heard That One Before: Parodied. Mr. Smoke-too-much apparently has never gotten a comment on the fact that his name is a meaningful phrase.
  • Ninja Prop: A woman is being interviewed about a gangster, the woman is played by a man in drag. Women being played by men is common enough on the show that the audience would just think of this as the case here... right up until he says "... and what's more, he knew how to treat a female impersonator."
  • No Ending: Many, many sketches and shows end without a punchline, or any sort of resolution at all. Often by having The Colonel show up and disrupt things for being too silly. They are the essence of Surrealism.
  • No Fourth Wall: Too many to list, but here's one example of many to give an idea (from the Hungarian Phrasebook sketch): "If there's any more stock film of women applauding I shall clear the court!"
  • No Indoor Voice: The Gumbys
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Hank and Roy Spim, who use machine guns, explosives and fighter jets to hunt tiny insects like flies and moths; and they relax by dynamite fishing, which is somewhat reasonable. They do it for sport.
  • Noodle Implements: The "specimens" in "The Insurance Sketch".
  • Noodle Incident: The Funniest Joke in the World. All we know is that it's funny enough to be deadly.
  • No One Should Survive That
  • Non-Answer: "How to do it" shows us how to play the flute and cure the world of all known diseases.
  • Non-Indicative Name: "Blood, Devastation, Death, War and Horror" is a lighthearted chat show which features a man who speaks entirely in anagrams.
  • No Sense of Humor: The Colonel in episode 8 who stopped sketches for being "too silly":

"Now, nobody likes a good laugh more than I do... except perhaps my wife and some of her friends... oh yes and Captain Johnston. Come to think of it most people likes a good laugh more than I do."

  • Not Actually the Ultimate Question: Dennis Moore
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Dinsdale Piranha thought he was being followed by a giant hedgehog, whom he referred to as "Spiny Norman"; at the end of the show, a giant hedgehog is lurking around London looking for Dinsdale.
  • The Nudifier: Scientists send probes across the galaxy to study shopping and women's underwear. The Algon-1 probe was the first piece of space hardware specifically designed to undress ladies.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity The Village Idiots.
  • Office Golf: "Party Political Broadcast" has a sketch in which a doctor practices his golf swing while his patient bleeds to death in his office.
  • Off the Chart: Mr. Frog's sales campaign for Conquistador Coffee sends the sales graph plummeting through the horizonal axis and off the bottom of the page.
  • Old-Fashioned Copper: A favoured target of satire. Constable Pan-Am, from the ending of the Chemists sketch, for one.
  • Once For Yes, Twice For No: The sketch in which a coffin is called as a witness. In Pleasure at her Majesty's, the film of the first ever Amnesty International "Secret Policeman's Ball", the backstage footage shows Peter Cook (who stood in for Eric Idle as the defendant) pointing out to John Cleese (the defense counsel) that at one point he asked the coffin a question without a yes-or-no answer: "Mr. Aldridge, are you thinking or are you just dead?"
  • Only Sane Man
    • Inverted. If anything, John Cleese was the Least Insane Man.
    • In-show, the Colonel often tries to act as this by stopping sketches before they become too 'silly'.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping
  • Or So I Heard: Ron Vibbentrop drops a similar phrase alongside a Suspiciously Specific Denial when someone jokes that he's not Von Ribbentrop.

Ron Vibbentrop: Nein! Nein! Nein! Nein! Oh. Ha ha. No, different other chap. I in Somerset am being born. Von Ribbentrop is born in Gotterdammerstrasse 46, Dusseldorf Vest 8... so they say!!

  • The Other Darrin: A couple of times one of the actors was needed to play another character, and was replaced mid-sketch once their lines ran out:
    • In "Court Charades", the jury foreman (Palin) and the defendant (Jones) were also two members of the Spanish Inquisition. When the defendant says "I wasn't expecting the Spanish Inquisition", the scene cuts to film of the Inquisition racing to the court house, and then cuts back to the studio when the Spanish Inquisition storms in; by which time the defendant has been replaced, and the foreman seems to have disappeared altogether.
    • In the "Father-In-Law" sketch, the father is played by Graham Chapman; when the sketch comes back as a link, he is replaced by Terry Gilliam.
    • On live stage productions, Eric Idle would sing the Lumberjack Song instead of Michael Palin.
  • Our Product Sucks: Used in the "Dentist Sketch"; an evil dentist was using a bookstore as a front and is waiting for an associate, so when a customer shows up, the dentist tries to convince him to go to another bookstore across the street.
  • Overly Long Gag: Another technique they helped pioneer.

"Number one: the larch. The... larch. The... larch. And now... number one... the larch."

    • And then in the credits...
    • The very first Monty Python gag the world encountered was of the overly long variety, namely the "It's..." man crawling out of the ocean to introduce the show.
  • Overt Operative: Played with in the "Mr. Neutron" episode with Teddy Salad, a retired CIA agent who now breeds rabbits in the Yukon. When his services are needed, Captain Carpenter goes to the Yukon believing Salad would've maintained the secrecy of his old job, and says Teddy Salad is a ballet organizer (or a hen teaser), which confuses everyone as the only Teddy Salad they know of is the CIA man.
  • Pantomime Animal: Two pantomime horses fight over a job at a merchant bank, a pantomime goose kills Terence Rattigan, and the recurring pantomime Princess Margaret.

Biggles: Get back in the cupboard you pantomimetic royal person!

  • Penultimate Outburst: "If there's any more Stock Footage of women applauding, I shall be forced to clear the court!"
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: "Splunge"
  • Pirate Parrot: Seen in several sketches, including one with Long John Silver impersonators playing football.
  • Planet of Steves
  • Queer People Are Funny
  • Refuge in Audacity: Actually instead of taking refuge, they seemed to have moved into audacity, built a nice little bungalow, and regularly invite people over for tea.
  • Reluctant Warrior
  • Ridiculympics: One sketch is about the Olympic Hide-and-Seek finals.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The second half of the Architect Sketch, in which the model of proposed block of flats collapses and catches fire, is a reference to the then-recent controversy around the partial collapse of Ronan Point. Of course, the show promptly lampshades this with the word "SATIRE" flashing on screen in huge green letters.
  • Rock-Paper-Scissors: And one of the players has no arms.
  • Rule of Funny
    • Until they get stopped for being silly by the Colonel.
    • Or the Knight with a Rubber Chicken comes to slap someone.
    • Or the 16-ton weight drops on someone. Or...
    • One sketch was abandoned by having a boxer (Gilliam) punch out the woman (Idle) who was speaking.
  • Rule of Three: The Spanish Inquisition appeared three times, the Bishop theme was played (or at least started) three times, the "piston engine" gag was done three times in a row, and "Mr. Neutron" started with the post office commissioning a new postal box with a speech in English, French, and German.
  • Running Gag: Quite a few, the most well-known of which is probably, "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" This particular gag subverts itself at the end of the episode, when it has become so routine for the Inquisition to appear when someone says they weren't expecting them that, well, everyone is expecting them to, but they're stuck in traffic so they can't arrive on cue.
  • Sarcasm Blind: Mr Pither in the episode "The Cycling Tour":

Cafe Proprietor: 35 p please.
Mr Pither: Ah... oh, I have only a fifty. You have change?
Cafe Proprietor: Well, I'll have a look, but I may have to go to the bank.
Mr Pither: I'm most awfully sorry.

  • Science Hero: The "Science Fiction Sketch" has Charles, the Chief Scientist at the Anthropological Research Institute at Butley Down, who is an expert on what makes a person change from one nationality to another, perfect for determining why people are turning into Scotsmen. Although he figures out the Blancmanges' nefarious plan to win Wimbledon, he has nothing to do with their defeat; instead they are (b)eaten by Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Brainsample.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Notlob. First mentioned in the "Dead Parrot" sketch as the palindrome of Bolton, then a news reader says "Notlob" when he meant to say "Bolton", and later there was a Mr. Notlob who went to a psychiatrist when he heard folk music wherever he went.
  • Secret Identity Change Trick: In "Bicycle Repairman".
  • Self-Deprecation: They got David Hamilton, who was working for Thames (a rival TV station) to dish out this beauty:

David Hamilton: Good evening. We've got an action-packed evening for you tonight on Thames, but right now here's a rotten old BBC programme.

Luigi: It's only because you couldn't think of a punch line.
Colonel: Not true! Not true!

  • Shaped Like Itself: The Oxford Dictionary defines the word "pythonesque" as "after the style of or resembling the absurdist or surrealist humor of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a British television comedy series (1969–74)".
  • Shout-Out
    • The "Confess!" segment of the Spanish Inquisition sketch is very similar to a scene in The Prisoner episode "Fall Out".
    • In "Silly Election", the exchange "What about the nylon dot cardigan and plastic mule rest? / There's no such thing! / Thank you, Spike!" is a direct Shout-Out to The Goon Show and its creator, Spike Milligan.
  • Siblings in Crime: The Piranha Brothers, known for policies of protection money, nailing heads to floors, and sarcasm.
  • Sixth Ranger (or seventh)
    • Carol Cleveland, who was in more sketches than anyone else who wasn't a writer for the show.
    • Neil Innes can also make a claim for this title, given that he contributed much of the music for the shows and films and was an indispensable part of the troupe's stage shows.
    • Aside from Cleveland, the woman most frequently seen was Cleese's then-wife Connie Booth (she's the woman Michael Palin is holding in the Lumberjack Song). She'd be even more important to Fawlty Towers, which she co-wrote with Cleese and in which she played Polly.
    • Not to mention Eric's then-wife, Lyn Ashley, who was always credited solely as "Mrs Idle".
    • And then there's Ian Davidson, who made guest appearances in almost every episode of the first series.
    • Douglas Adams became Graham Chapman's writing partner after John Cleese left in the fourth series and was the only non-Python besides Neil Innes to get a writing credit on the show (for co-writing the "Patient Abuse" sketch). He also appeared in that and a few other sketches.
  • Sketch Comedy
  • Small Reference Pools: Completely averted. To cite one of many examples: a joke from the very first episode requires the viewer not only to have heard of the painter Toulouse-Lautrec, but to be familiar enough with his disability to be able to identify a caricature of him by sight.
  • Smarmy Host: A repeated target.
  • Somewhere an Ornithologist Is Crying: Done intentionally in the "Dead Parrot" sketch, where a pet store owner tries to sell an unsuspecting customer a dead Norwegian Blue Parrot. It's easy to miss, because the whole "dead parrot" thing is the focus of the sketch, but the "Norwegian Blue" thing is an immediate red flag as well. It seems pretty innocuous until you remember that parrots are tropical birds...and Norway is right on the edge of the Arctic Circle.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "Sam Peckinpah's Salad Days" has a nice cheery piano number to match the bright scenery, which is totally opposed to the carnage that takes place.
  • Space Clothes: One scientist in the Algon-1 sketch, who discovered lingerie on another planet, believes that alien women's underwear gets naughtier and naughtier the further away you go.
  • Speak of the Devil: Look, I'm not expecting the Spanish Inquisition here, okay?

"No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!"
"Now put her in... THE COMFY CHAIR!!"

"It's funny, isn't it, how... how your best friend could just... blow up like that. I mean, you wouldn't think it was medically possible, would you?"

  • Spy Speak: Played for laughs.
  • Stock Footage: One common gag involved cutting to stock footage of old women smiling approvingly and applauding in a music-hall theatre on the punchline of a sketch, often evoking dissonance by using it with Dead Baby Comedy sketches.
  • Stop Trick
    • When Eric Idle gets fed up with the "Mary... Army Recruitment" sketch, Graham Chapman suggests a scene change; Eric stays the same when the recruitment office spontaneously changes to a bus.
    • Also used a lot in the "Confuse-a-Cat" sketch, among others.
  • Invisible to Gaydar: Graham Chapman, who passably played his share of aggressively heterosexual characters. In one sketch, he shoots another character for being gay.
  • Studio Audience: In the "Undertakers' Sketch", they rush the stage in mock indignation. Apparently, letting the audience react this way was a condition of the BBC letting them use the skit. The BBC agreed to let them do the sketch only if they made it clear that the studio audience disapproved of it. The Pythons responded by taking it Up to Eleven, having the audience loudly boo practically every joke and then rush the stage at the end. It was All Part of the Show, of course.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: "The Exploding Version of the Blue Danube" is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Stupid Crooks: The "Non-Illegal Robbery" sketch is about a group of criminals who aren't even plotting anything that's criminal.
  • Suffer the Slings: An impromptu one is made from underwear to fight a giant electric penguin.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial
    • The Bruces using "No pooftahs" as four out of their seven rules of conduct is made especially suspicious by the fact that "Bruce" was considered a stereotypical gay name in the 60s and 70s. (Only in America; in England it was a stereotypically masculine name, and was used simply because it was the name of an Australian the Pythons knew in their student days.)
    • The smuggler, as well as being a Bad Liar: "Nothing to declare, no, nothing in my suitcase..." and "No, no watches at all. No precision watches, no."
  • Switch to English: In the episode "The Cycling Tour," John Cleese is a Soviet officer making a speech in Russian to fellow Soviets, pausing for the subtitles to show, and then says in Russian, "Forgive me if I continue in English in order to save time."
  • Take Our Word for It: The Punch Line to the "Jokes and Novelties Salesman" sketch: "Ha, ha, ha, very good. What a good punchline. Pity we missed that. Still, never mind, we can always do it again."
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Used in the "Barber Sketch" where the barber leaves a recording of himself chatting with the customer, the deception was so good that it repeated a line when the customer said he didn't hear it.
  • Tap on the Head: The scientist to his female assistant during the Blancmange sketch.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: The chef in the "Dirty Fork" sketch.

John Cleese: You bastards! You vicious, heartless bastards! Look what you've done to him! He's worked his fingers to the bone to make this place what it is, and you come in with your petty, feeble quibbling and you grind him into the dirt! This fine, honorable man whose boots you are but worthy to kiss! (Beat) Oh, it makes me mad.

  • That's All Folks
  • Theme Tune: First movement of Sousa's "Liberty Bell", chosen as it is public domain, to save money. Nowadays, people know it as "The Monty Python Song", and as one of the references to British comedy present in Hogs of War, the Monty Python version of the song (although rearranged) is the main theme of said game.
  • This Is What the Building Will Look Like: The architect sketch.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: "Hitler in England"
  • Thrown From the Zeppelin: Literally. Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin threw the entire German government out of his airship during its maiden voyage; it wasn't for not supporting him, but for calling his airship a "balloon".
  • Title Sequence: The episode "Scott of the Antarctic" featured its namesake sketch at the beginning -- 18 minutes long -- before ever showing the show's Title Sequence. This is probably the first ever example of a show delaying its title sequence to anywhere near or (in this case) beyond its halfway mark. It only possible thanks to the BBC having no commercial breaks, and thus not having to identify the show upon returning from such a break.
  • Token American: Terry Gilliam
  • Too Dumb to Live
    • The twits from the "Upper Class Twit of the Year Show" take part in an obstacle course involving jumping over a line of matchboxes to waking a sleeping neighbour; the last challenge involves shooting themselves. Honourable mention goes to Oliver St. John-Mollusc who managed to run himself over with his own car.
    • Ron Obvious tried to run to Mercury (the planet) at the behest of his manager, Luigi Vercotti.
  • Trap Door: Used on a man collecting money for charity in the "Merchant Banker" sketch.
  • Trope Maker: They coined their own genre, "pythonesque". c.f. Seinfeld Is Unfunny.
  • Unsatisfiable Customer: One sketch inverts this and has Unsatisfiable Waitstaff, who angst over one dirty fork, resulting in utter carnage.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Semprini" and the "Nudge Nudge" sketch.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Angus Podgorny was one to the Blancmanges, making him a literal Cosmic Plaything. The rules for Wimbledon said that there must be at least one human being involved in the final; so the Blancmanges arrange for the Scottish tailor to enter the tournament, and then eat all the other human players, leaving the final down to a Blancmange, and Angus who is hopelessly incompetent at tennis.
  • Use Your Head: In "The Bishop" sketch. The villain's door is locked, so the Bishop's assistants pick up one of their number and use him as a battering ram.
  • Verbal Backspace: The Spanish Inquisition
  • Video Inside, Film Outside: "Good Lord, I'm on film!"
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: The Pythons loved referencing history, arts and culture to an extent that most modern shows would never get away with.
  • Viewers are Morons: It's a good thing they put up those captions, someone might think Reverend Morrison was simply bad at telling knock-knock jokes.
  • Vox Pops: Ask the man on the street what he thinks? Woman: "I am not a man you silly billy!" Man on rooftop: "I'm not on the street you fairy!"; Man in street: "Well, speaking as a man on the street..." *cue speeding car*
  • Walk This Way: The (Less Naughty) Chemist Sketch:

Man: Good morning. I'd like some aftershave, please.
Chemist: Ah, certainly. Walk this way, please.
Man: If I could walk that way I wouldn't need aftershave.
(policeman bursts in and arrests him)

Hank: Well, I follow the moth in the helicopter to lure it away from the flowers, and then Roy comes along in the Lockheed Starfighter and attacks it with air-to-air missiles.
Roy: A lot of people have asked us why we don't use fly spray. Well, where's the sport in that?

  • Whoopee Cushion
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: The best-known example in modern times.
  • Wildlife Commentary Spoof
  • William Telling: One of the German episodes begins with a William Tell sketch. It has Tell successfully shooting the apple, then the camera zooms out to show his son's body is riddled with arrows from previous attempts.
  • Word Salad Title: The team specifically wanted a nonsensical title for the programme and considered several. The runners-up were mostly reused as episode titles for Series 1, such as "The Ant, an Introduction" and "Owl-Stretching Time".
  • World of Chaos: Most of their animated interludes are set there.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever
    • Nationwide decides that the theory that sitting down in a comfortable chair can rest your legs is worth reporting on, instead of the start of World War Three.
    • While another news programme sent its reporters to scenes of civil war, largely to find out what the military leaders' kept in their storage jars.
  • Write What You Know: Most of the members of Python were veteran British comedy writers from The Sixties. Much of their humor was deliberately made to send up, invert, subvert, flanderize to ridiculous proportions and/or just plain do away with many of the tropes, idioms and devices British comedy writers used at the time, along with British TV in general.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: Two episodes involve a rather naughty strip-tease... and both are performed not by lovely ladies, but by a doughy Welshman. With a moustache.

"NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPA-- Oh bugger!"

  1. "If the Nunstück is git and Slotermeyer? Yes! ... Beige dog, that or the Flipperwaldt gersput!"
  2. British Airline Pilots Association