How did Monty Python predict “woke culture” so many years in advance?

This article in Areo Magazine, written by Gerfried Ambosch, deals with the film Monty Python’s Life of Brian, which turned forty years old this year.  I saw that film only once, and about when it came out, so I’m not as acquainted with the material as I could be. However, it’s amazing to see the mockery of a culture that didn’t arise for twenty years after the movie came out.

 

The movie, which of course is about a guy named Brian born at the same time as Jesus, and mistaken for Jesus, has a number of tropes that mirror the identity politics and wokeness of today, most prominently in the friction between the People’s Front of Judea and the Judean People’s Front, which were actually on the right side.  The other topics in the movie include language taboos, purity tests, the preoccupation with procedures and formalities rather than action, and so on—all seen in today’s Offense Culture, and all construed by Ambosch, as by many others, as a kind of religion.

Here’s an excerpt:

The stoning scene in Life of Brian brilliantly illustrates the absurdity of stringent language taboos. An elderly man faces execution for using the taboo word Jehovah. When he defends himself by saying, “Look, I had a lovely supper, and all I said to my wife was, ‘That piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah,’” the cleric reading out the verdict shouts, “Blasphemy! He’s said it again!” A member of the crowd throws a stone at the convict’s head, for which she is reprimanded—the stoning hasn’t officially started yet. After a number of incidents of this sort, the cleric, now visibly furious, makes an announcement: “No one is to stone anyone until I blow this whistle! Do you understand? Even—and I want this to be absolutely clear—even if they do say ‘Jehovah.’” For which the crowd promptly stones him to death. This brings to mind Goethe’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”: “Spirits I have cited, my commands ignore”—a perfect metaphor for woke mob dynamics.

Some of the parallels are stronger than others, but thinking over the whole movie, it does seem to be a prescient take on a culture that arose only later. My question is: How did the Pythons manage to do that? For in 1979 politics really wasn’t like the People’s Front of Judea versus the Judean People’s front, with the Left eating itself. Or was it, and I’ve just forgotten?

At any rate, the shortish piece is worth reading—and to see if you agree with Terry Jones’s claim that the movie “couldn’t be made today” because the topics it mocks would rouse the Offense Culture.

 

h/t: Anthony

157 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, I think you’re just not remembering how frequently leftist political organizations in the 60’s would schism over subtile social distinctions. That’s the sub-culture Monty Python was ridiculing in those fantastic sequences in The Life of Brian. Today’s wokeies are just carrying on an old tradition!

    • Posted September 18, 2019 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      I agree. I think MP was pointing out a tendency thats always been present in any type of extremist. The reason we have ‘woke’ culture today is because the internet allows extremists to communicate and thus leads to positive feedback on their extremeism
      I also think its partly due to the fact that so many more people go to college now. “Woke” culture is a refuge for people who struggle with their studies

    • TJR
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, that stuff is heavily based on 70s leftism and in particular 70s leftist trade-unionism.

      Maybe you didn’t have that so much in the US, but it was definitely a thing in Britain, and gave Thatcher an open goal in much the same way that wokeism gives Trump an open goal.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted September 18, 2019 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        However you regard it, it ain’t new. I’d say that re “The Life of Brian” it came out of the culture wars of the 70s, including the sex/gender/trans and pronoun battles.

        I know nothing much about leftist trade unionism but that sort of thing sure was rife on college campuses and in feminist circles. I don’t think it’s either/or but both/and, and more in the mix.

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted September 18, 2019 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

          Damn! I like Monty Python so much that I forgot they were British. I was judging from the American experience in the 70s; they’re a product of British culture of the 70s, and I know nothing about that so my comment above should be stricken from the record.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted September 18, 2019 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

            That reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when he loses his memory: “Bloody hell! Sodding, blimey, shagging, knickers, bollocks, oh God! I’m English!”

            Yes, I’m full of pop culture TV and movie references.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted September 18, 2019 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

              Spike is the he.

            • Jenny Haniver
              Posted September 18, 2019 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

              Blimey!

          • Dominic
            Posted September 19, 2019 at 3:16 am | Permalink

            Actually not all – Terry Gilliam…

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      Maximilien Robespierre might testify that the tradition dates back a bit further.

      • GBJames
        Posted September 18, 2019 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        He would have a point!

      • Dominic
        Posted September 19, 2019 at 3:16 am | Permalink

        Greatest ever Frenchman!

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted September 19, 2019 at 11:18 am | Permalink

          Eric Cantona would disagree, probably in baffling-haiku form.

    • JezGrove
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Agree absolutely, GBJames – in my experience, groups on the left spent far more time fighting each other in the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s than they did uniting against their shared adversaries. The same thing can be seen in today’s Labour Party, where members are trying to deselect sitting MPs (Harriet Harman, a contender for the position of next Speaker of the House of Commons is but one example) for their supposed lack of ideological purity. The Conservative Party is similarly purging MPs who oppose a no-deal Brexit, of course.

      • chris moffatt
        Posted September 18, 2019 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        Maybe not so much in he 50s and 60s in parliament and the parties but most definitely in the rank and file – following a tradition that went back to the Terror. The infighting at the SU at the college I attended (1958 – 1962) was unbelievable. I have sometimes thought that Monty Python also attended that college.

      • Posted September 19, 2019 at 1:56 am | Permalink

        Well to be fair, the other side of that fight spent the past five years trying to get rid of Corbyn for being too left.

        If you read the Guardian you’d think that Labour was doing a shoddy job as the sitting government, they don’t seem to get that they’re the official opposition.

        They’re constantly doing the equivalent of blaming the Democrats for Trump’s environmental policy.

        • JezGrove
          Posted September 19, 2019 at 6:07 am | Permalink

          Yes, Labour are the opposition but they should be miles ahead in the opinion polls with the government in meltdown, not trailing behind.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I think they were engaging in reductio ad absurdum based on trends & our society just happened to continue to the absurd.

    • BJ
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      I wasn’t alive at the time, but one has to ask how much the internet/social media/regular media has expanded and intensified woke culture. If it was around back then, maybe the only reason it didn’t rise to today’s levels was the lack of what I mentioned above. I also wonder if the successful takeover of places like academia, HR departments, message boards, various hobbies, media, etc. has influence its growth. It’s hard not to feel the oppressiveness of woke culture when it’s all around you now, rather than confined to internecine battles among small activist groups like it probably was a few decades ago.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted September 19, 2019 at 2:16 am | Permalink

        YES!!

        The Internet (and ‘social media’, ugh!) has, I’m sure, been a major factor in the spread of ‘woke culture’, both in facilitating the whining of the self-professed oppressed, and providing an echo chamber and a medium for the self-righteous to leap on the latest trendy bandwagon.

        Look! – they can protest without even shifting their butts off their armchairs and taking to the streets. No risk of being beaten up by riot police or getting cold, wet or uncomfortable. No risk of anything but being out-shamed for failing to keep up with the leading edge of PC-ness.

        cr

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      At the time, I thought they were in no small part targetting the variety of schism in the Ulster “Republican” and “Loyalist” movements. The Loyalists in particular had been having a bout of schisming and (I choose the word carefully) internecine warfare, but the Republicans had earlier and later bouts.
      But yeah, politics on both wings has been prone to such things too – we’re in a bout at the moment in the UK.
      Ah, got it. There was a thread dangling just out of reach. Freedom For Tooting”.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Agreed.

      And I have to say, over the last few years I’ve said exactly the same thing – that Life of Brian is remarkably accurate in its prescient lampooning of PC/wokeness.

      cr

  2. David Coxill
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Well ,the beeb did show” Jerrry Springer ,The Opera” a few years ago and the god botherers got all hot and bothered about that .

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I just thought it was a damn good comedy and made a lot of fun of religion, of which we need much more. When you put a few guys on crosses and then start singing – Always look on the bright side of life, you just cannot beat that.

    • David Coxill
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      I have always thought “Heavens Above ” made in the early 60s was a far funnier film .

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted September 18, 2019 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

        Never heard of it but will look it up.

      • Dominic
        Posted September 19, 2019 at 3:19 am | Permalink

        A very different film – personally I think Sellers was overrated…
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heavens_Above!

        • David Coxill
          Posted September 19, 2019 at 7:26 am | Permalink

          Personally i think you are wrong .

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted September 19, 2019 at 7:52 am | Permalink

            I think Sellers was generally great, but not in that role – his Brummie/Black Country accent was miles out for a start & he was wooden throughout. He played a similar innocent simpleton in Being There two decades later & it was a perfect match for him. I think he got better at film acting.

  4. Posted September 18, 2019 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Latest round of local wokeness – some students at the University of Denver are up in arms, trying to get DU to drop “Pioneer” from all University identifiers. Pioneers obviously were all about white supremacy, racism, oppression, and such.

    • Posted September 18, 2019 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Crazy. Were the conquistadores pioneers too? Hard to say, though few would argue they couldn’t do oppression.

    • Dominic
      Posted September 19, 2019 at 3:19 am | Permalink

      Pie on ear? yeuch!

  5. A C Harper
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Similar echoes in the series ‘Citizen Smith’. From Wikipedia:

    It starred Robert Lindsay as “Wolfie” Smith, a young Marxist “urban guerrilla” in Tooting, south London, who is attempting to emulate his hero Che Guevara….

    …Wolfie is the self-proclaimed leader of the revolutionary Tooting Popular Front (the TPF, merely a small bunch of his friends), the goals of which are “Power to the People” and “Freedom for Tooting”. In reality, he is an unemployed slacker and petty criminal whose plans fail through his apathy, ineptitude and inexperience.

    I doubt that such a series would be made today.

    • BJ
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      “In reality, he is an unemployed slacker and petty criminal whose plans fail through his apathy, ineptitude and inexperience.”

      Hey, that’s basically Stalin’s teenage and twenties biography, but look how far he got in the movement!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      Or Willie Loman.

  6. Patrick Clark
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    One of my favorite movies of all time…thank you to George Harrison for st stepping into to finance it when the studio backed out…

    • Mark Richardson
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      Wow, I didn’t know Harrison stepped in to foot the bill for LoB. Thanks for that tid-bit of fascination. Makes me have a little less angst against his “My Sweet Lord” rubbish of a song.

  7. TJR
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been saying for years that the Pythons satirised many things before they even existed.

    Just celebrating 50 years by re-watching from the beginning, but I’ll exercise self-restraint and not quote anything at you, hard though it is to refrain…..

    • Doug
      Posted September 19, 2019 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      Then there’s the scene in “The Meaning of Life:” a woman has just given birth and asks the doctor “Is it a boy or a girl?” He looks at her with contempt and says “A little young to start imposing roles on it, isn’t it?”

  8. DrBrydon
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I always thought the scene in the coliseum, where they agree to support Loetta’s (Eric Idle) right to have a baby, eventhough she’s a man, and can’t, which is nobody’s fault, not even the Roman’s, was the best anticipatory satirisation of wokeness. (Is there a single word meaning “anticipatory satirisation”?)

    • Posted September 18, 2019 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Definitely! It was there especially that they were prescient.

    • Mark R.
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      +1 and +2

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted September 19, 2019 at 1:52 am | Permalink

      Of course, Loretta’s original name was Stan, until s/he announced that henceforth s/he wished to be known as Loretta. Self-identification as a member of the opposite sex (sorry, gender) is nothing new!

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted September 19, 2019 at 4:49 am | Permalink

      LOL

      That clip was put here recently- I had forgotten it. Should probably watch the whole thing again… and Holy Grail…

  9. F X Patrick Foley
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Monty Python’s “woke” culture was very similar to the leftist culture of my youth (the same as Jerry’s youth). This was pretty obvious if you participated in campus demonstrations, coop bookstores, coop food stores etc.

    I would not call it toxic, but it was (and is) sometimes silly. Hence Monty Python.

  10. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    The satire in the film is a general satire of various political and religious speech codes. There are some mild coincidental parallels but the article seems to me to be reaching.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. Ideologues in Ursa Major will be exactly the same as here.

  11. eedwardgrey69
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Life of Brian had people rallying in front of cinemas to forbid it. There as a TV discussion. Mostly people who hadn’t seen the movie. Of coruse people (especially religious ones) were just as easily offended as they are now, the just didn’t have Twitter.

    • David Coxill
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      Yeah ,Michael Palin and John Cleese in one corner ,and Malcolm Muggeridge and the bishop of Southwark in the other .

      It is on youtube ,Muggeridge and the bis get more pompous every time i watch it .

      • Chris Pearton
        Posted September 18, 2019 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        Not the Nine o’Clock News did a skit on that, entitled “The General Synod’s Life of Christ”.

  12. mfdempsey1946
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Terry Jones, who directed “Monty Python’s Life Of Brian”, that such a film could probably not be made today. It nearly didn’t get made back in the day. George Harrison, late of The Beatles, who had his own movie company, Handmade Films, stepped in with the necessary funding for “Life Of Brian” after another backer had cancelled it.

    I also recall how the director Martin Ritt somehow managed to make four major studio pictures — “Hud”, “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold”, “Hombre”, and “The Molly Maguires” — that each contains an explicit repudiation of God and the afterlife. The first three were commercial successes; “The Molly Maguires”, alas,, was a major and expensive box office failure.

    Doubtless none of these would be makeable today. The Hollywood studios will release low-cost features that cater to the evangelical/fundamentalist market niche. Otherwise, except on the rarest occasions, they are out of the business of making mid-range-budget dramatic movies whose subject matter will, inevitably, offend this or that quadrant of the theatrical movie marketplace. So…safe subjects treated safely only is pretty much the rule nowadays.

    This was sad in the case of “The Molly Maguires”, whose failure to find an audience during its original release reinforced this attitude, as I well remember. Sad because this epic, elegiac masterpiece — at least that is what I consider it to be — continues to languish largely unknown.

    • Posted September 18, 2019 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      Handmade Films was specifically created to finance Life of Brian.

  13. Posted September 18, 2019 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    I have to say, one of the most brilliant moments of the film is the ridicule of group conformity in which Brian is standing on his balcony addressing the crowd of would-be worshippers.

    Brian: You’ve all got to decide for yourselves.
    Crowd: Yes! We’ve all got to decide for ourselves! Tell us more!

    Brian: You’re all individuals!
    Crow: Yes! We’re all individuals!
    Lone man: (Raises hand) I…I’m not.

    I may have gotten it slightly off, but that was one of the most hilarious little bits of…irony? I’m not sure what it counts as, but it certainly also applies to the Woke people of today, who – ironically – do not seem to find individual viewpoints tolerable unless the viewpoints are just like everybody else in the group.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      I like the quote ‘you’re special, just like everybody else’. It seems trite on first inspection but it’s about as subtle and wise as those kind of Hallmark Card quotes get.

    • enl
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      “Your repressing me!” (Ok, that’s the holy grail, but still….)

      • Posted September 18, 2019 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        “Now we see the violence inherent in the system!”

    • merilee
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Robert, if I remember correctly, at the end Brian tells them all to eff off, and after a slight pause, someone in the crowd says How exactly should we eff off…One of the very best scenes (of many)😂

  14. Michael Wynne
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    They weren’t prophetic. They were mocking religion and Leftist Politics is a religion. Leftists must abandon all individual thought, reason and submit to rigid orthodoxy in order to maintain “purity”.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 19, 2019 at 5:50 am | Permalink

      Really? Wow. I never knew I was such a braindead zombie. Thanks.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted September 19, 2019 at 6:01 am | Permalink

        It’s good news Saul! Being already dead has advantages & it’s fashionable – over 95% of people who’ve ever lived are dead.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted September 19, 2019 at 11:02 am | Permalink

          Great. So the one point at which I’ll be fashionable in my life is when I’m dead. Thanks that’s really cheered me up.

  15. mfdempsey1946
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Another case that parallels that of “Life Of Brian” is “The Last Temptation Of Christ”. This film, like the Monty Python satire, got cancelled before it could begin shooting, in this case when its funder, Paramount, abruptly got cold feet in the wake of widespread protests against Hollywood’s alleged “blasphemy”. It was quite a while later that, in some kind of complicated, low-budget deal, Universal ended up distributing director Martin Scorsese’s low-cost picture.

    Many may remember the uproar that greeted this movie when its release was still some months in the future and none of the protestors, all of them fundamentalists of different stripes, it seemed, had seen so much as a single frame of the movie.

    This protest was heated enough to cause Universal to abruptly put the picture into theaters right away.

    I well recall standing for a long time in an opening showing line in Century City, Los Angeles. All around us hundreds, perhaps more than a thousand fanatics were screaming, flashing frequently misspelled placards, and condemning all of us who were simply waiting to do what the protestors had not done, actually see the movie. Like me, others seemed to be in line in order to protest the protestors.

    One of these self-righteous individuals started howling at me as I left the theater following the screening of what proved to be a pro-Christ, pro-God, and pro-religion film, and yet a superb piece of filmmaking. I asked the howler as politely as I could if she had seem the fllm. Don’t gasp too hard when I reveal that her answer was No.

    What these cases show is that trying to make movie like these two has never a short, straight road. But probably the road is almost one hundred percent roadblocked nowadays.

  16. Chris
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    If you read the Wikipedia article you linked, you’ll find that it links to another article, “The Narcissism of Small Differences,” which explains, well, the narcissism of small differences among “the Woke” but was coined by Freud in 1917.

  17. Posted September 18, 2019 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Just saw it again on NetFlix. It still holds up. Much better than Holy Grail, though HG had some extraordinarily funny dangly bits.

    • Posted September 18, 2019 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      Did you happen to notice (as I did when watching it on Netflix) that, in the first scene, John Cleese as one of the Wise Men is in black face?

      I’m keeping it a secret because I don’t want it banned.

  18. Ken Pidcock
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    When I saw the movie on its release, I was on the periphery of the Catholic left, and that aspect seemed familiar to me. I suspect that, for as long as anyone alive remembers, the left has always patrolled for heretics.

  19. Mike Anderson
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Monty Python didn’t “predict” woke culture. Woke culture has been around for thousands of years.

  20. Posted September 18, 2019 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Yes,this is extraordinarily prescient about identity politics, and the obsession of the left,in particular, with words.
    To see its then opposition,smug christians, including the Bishop of Southwark, vs Cleese and Chapman, in 1979.on the BBC.
    Identity politics is nowhere to be heard

    Anthony K

  21. Bob Bottemiller
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    “…and now for something completely different”

    Aside from all the insightful skewering of social and political stereotypes let’s not forget the Pythons’ talent for bawdy slapstick humor. Exhibit One from LoB: Bigus Dickus, the close friend of the Roman official.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      He has a wife….

      • merilee
        Posted September 18, 2019 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        😬Incontinentia Something…

        • Andrea Kenner
          Posted September 26, 2019 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

          Incontinentia Buttocks https://youtu.be/69fkZug5ToA

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted September 26, 2019 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

            LOL

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted September 26, 2019 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

            I could never make out the name of the wife. Now I want to use it as a screen name.

            • Andrea Kenner
              Posted September 26, 2019 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

              🙂

          • merilee
            Posted September 27, 2019 at 12:42 am | Permalink

            Yup🤓

    • BJ
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      They didn’t tell the extras what was going to happen in the scene, so their trying to hold in their laughter is completely real 🙂

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted September 18, 2019 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

        I wasn’t aware of that, but it’s (yet another) of my favourite scenes. And probably the best example of ‘laughter is infectious’ on screen.

        cr

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted September 18, 2019 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

          I was driving to work the other morning listening to Ricky Gervais on SiriusXM and his guest was some guy and Diane Morgan. He did a funny voice and said “I lost all my teeth in a horrible accident and now all I can eat is jelly”. The jelly bit cracked me up so hard I thought I was going to have to pull over. I’m sure other drivers thought I was crying. And that was just me in the car and Ricky Gervais on SiriusXM on demand.

          • BJ
            Posted September 18, 2019 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

            I love Gervais. It seems it’s the British comics who have been willing to stand up to woke culture and continue doing their thing, from Rickey Gervais to Jimmy Carr. Here in the States, “comedy” has become more about “hur dur, aren’t Republicans/the President/rednecks stupid” and making everybody clap in agreement, rather than setting up a joke and executing the punchline (or, in Jimmy Carr’s case, just delivering punchline after punchline!). All one has to do is look at the downfall of The Daily Show to see what I mean.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted September 18, 2019 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

              I dunno, I think that’s rare as many American comics who stand up to the woke. Bill Burr & Jerry Seinfeld come to mind. I think also Sarah Silverman and Whitney Cummings.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted September 18, 2019 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

                Not “rare”. “Just”. Suck it autocorrect!

              • BJ
                Posted September 18, 2019 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

                I’ll have to disagree with you on this one, at least as far as the examples you gave. Bill Burr, definitely, but Jerry Seinfeld just stood up to them by talking openly about them (his actual stand-up is way too clean to offend them), and I feel like Sarah Silverman and Whitney Cummings — who I both like and don’t think fit the mold I was talking about — aren’t exactly offensive to the woke crowd. They’re definitely not the downfall of comedy I was talking about though, you’re right about that.

                Also, Anthony Jeselnick. But I haven’t seen him in around anywhere in a couple of years…

                Gervais, Carr, Fry, etc. still get to go on TV and roast people and topics the woke must hate. Given the BBC’s predilections, this surprises me a bit, but not really, as some things are already too popular to cancel 🙂

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted September 19, 2019 at 6:15 am | Permalink

                What?! Bill Burr just did a whole routine on offence culture, Sarah Silverman was getting cancelled for her comedy (see the “chink” incident) before woke was a thing, Seinfeld says stuff that he thinks is funny and doesn’t care and admits that in this day his series would be cancelled because of the topics, Whitney Cummings does a whole act about women extensively and relationships and had a sex doll made of her. No, they all aren’t cowed by offence culture.

              • Posted September 19, 2019 at 9:31 am | Permalink

                I agree. All of them seem to avoid confronting the woke crowd directly. It’s unfortunate since humor is probably our best weapon. That said, I don’t blame them for not going there.

              • BJ
                Posted September 19, 2019 at 8:25 am | Permalink

                I think there’s been some miscommunication here because I was basically agreeing with you about the people you listed, just slightly less enthusiastically (I now see how my first sentence completely undermines that!). Like I said, Bill Burr definitely goes against woke culture, Seinfeld does when he speaks about it, and Silverman and Cummings don’t seem that offensive to the woke crowd. I’ve watched them many times, so maybe I was just having too much fun to see it with them. I don’t know what the “chink incident” is. Anyway, those two women are two of my favorite American comedians, though I tend to lean more toward the Brits.

                Well, on a different note, thank goodness it seems like the Amy Schumer age is over. We can only hope it stays that way…

              • merilee
                Posted September 19, 2019 at 8:56 am | Permalink

                Some nights are better than others and some of his “crew” are funnier than others, but I generally really enjoy it at the end of the day. Roy Wood, Jr., had a hilarious bit last night.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted September 19, 2019 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

                Years ago Silverman did a bit about racism and she ended it with “except the chinks”. I don’t remember the whole joke but it was brilliant and was meant to show how racism was bad but people only heard the slur and went nuts. I think this was in the 90s.

              • Mike Anderson
                Posted September 19, 2019 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

                Might have been “Jesus is magic”. She performed the song “I Love You More” in that show.

                “I love you more than a bear loves honey,
                I love you more than Jews love money…”

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted September 19, 2019 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

                Oh and I listened to another Ricky Gervais episode where he talks about woke culture the whole time. It was excellent. If you can get access to he SiriusXM show “Ricky Gervais is Deadly Sirius” you will not be disappointed. It’s the only thing I really listen to on SirusXM.

              • BJ
                Posted September 19, 2019 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

                I’ve had Sirius in my cars for years and had no idea he had a show! Thank you for enriching my life 🙂

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted September 19, 2019 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

                Use the app to listen to July 9 with Andrew Doyle, the guy behind the Titania McGrath parody account. That’s a good one. The app allows you to listen on demand which I like better than trying to listen live as the last time it was full of commercials for some reason and it just got frustrated.

              • BJ
                Posted September 19, 2019 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

                Excellent stuff. Thanks, Diana!

            • merilee
              Posted September 18, 2019 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

              Downfall of The Daily Show? I love Trevor Noah.

              • BJ
                Posted September 19, 2019 at 8:26 am | Permalink

                I watched some of his older stand-up acts and really enjoyed them, but I was more talking about the writing of the show. The writing has become awful. It used to be so witty and often intricate. Now it’s just “insert line here, get applause.” At least that’s how I feel about it. It feels like comedy done by MSNBC.

            • Posted September 19, 2019 at 9:28 am | Permalink

              I love Gervais also. One of my favorites of his is his answer to what happens after you die. Paraphrase: “It’s just like before you were born.”

  22. Posted September 18, 2019 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    I think what the (well worth reading) article misses somewhat is that Life of Brian satirised normal human behaviour, and (as others have mentioned above) ‘woke’ tendencies were also prominent back then too.

    What’s changed with wokeness, is that today it’s young people complaining about blasphemy instead of priests. (Or young people complaining about offensive language instead of politicians’ wives wanting to stick “offensive language” warnings on pop music as in the 1980s.)

    For anyone interested, here’s debate about Life of Brian from back then, with a couple of priests vs John Cleese (in his more agreeably obnoxious and less blow-hardy days).

    As a life long Monty Python fan (since I was 8 years old, 45 years ago), I must also say that an uncomfortably large proportion of their work hasn’t aged well. They hadn’t quite grown out of the British comedy tradition of unfunny jokes about homosexuality. And as British humour still does, they hadn’t figured out that joking about torturing people is derived from public tortures and executions. And cruelty to cats. Why do the Brits think it’s inherently funny to abuse cats? The Pythons aren’t the only ones guilty of that.

    (I don’t mean that violence can never be funny. Much of their Holy Grail film was hilarious at its most violent.)

    • revelator60
      Posted September 19, 2019 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      I think Python has quite aged pretty well. The camp/homosexual jokes were never about gayness, they were about satirizing authority figures who boasted of their “normality.” As for cruelty to cats, Cleese and Chapman were both cat lovers (Cleese currently owns several Maine Coons) and the gags were black humor about the incongruity of cats in those situations, not mere sadism.

      • Posted September 19, 2019 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

        Palin himself said they wouldn’t have done the camp stuff if they were doing it today. There’s nothing disgraceful of course, and not all of it is off colour, but I think they were drawing on a rather unpleasant tradition in British humour.

        As for the cats, I’m referring to their very small part in a stupid and distasteful tradition that permeates(/ed) British humour, where atrocious mistreatment of cats is seen as inherently funny — like torture being funny, it has horrifying and very real historical roots.

        One could argue that the early sketch where john Cleese’s character’s cat Tiddles who learned a trick of “flying across the room and landing in a bucket of water” is somehow funny, and the funny the meowing noises it makes as he is holding it by his tail and swinging it around his head is funny, but it isn’t a one off in British humour.

        And there’s a scene in the Holy Grail where a woman is holding a cat by the tail and smacking into a wall. (It’s at the start of the “bring out your dead” scene.)

        (I hope you’ll see the almost fanatical attention to detail here as a compliment to the Pythons, recalled from my encyclopedic memory gained from the age of 8, rather than an attempt at a starting flame war!)

        • merilee
          Posted September 19, 2019 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

          Who remembers the Cat Detector Van?

        • revelator60
          Posted September 19, 2019 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

          Risk of misinterpretation might play a large role in Palin not wanting to venture into that area. I also think Python’s use of camp stereotypes was not traditional, since it was usually directed at self-professedly “butch” institutions.

          As for cats, I confess that I don’t see any connection to a supposed British tradition of comedic mistreatment, and more into Python’s obsession with animals (dead parrots, dead albatrosses, various fish, Eric the half-a-bee, pet conversions, etc.). The sketch with Tiddles is funny as an example of talent show anti-talent, whereas the Holy Grail references the horrible treatment of cats in the medieval/dark ages—you can tell you’re in a benighted place when you see that. Plus not all of Python’s cat humor involved physical harm–remember Confuse-a-Cat?

          • merilee
            Posted September 19, 2019 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

            Confuse-a-cat was hilarious🙀

            • Posted September 19, 2019 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

              The cat stuff is just something I’ve noticed as a recurring theme in British humour. Alexei Sayle for example often had sketches like a door to door salesman offering to “boil your cat” which was entirely based on the idea that it’s funny to boil cats. I could name others. And in Britain torturing cats to death the light entertainment part of public torture and execution.

              I don’t mean to be a kill joy about it; I just notice it. And the reason I highlight it is merely to say that it’s one area of humour that would disappear if awareness was brought to it.

              And I didn’t mean that Monty Python’s use of cats was always distasteful. The cat detector van from the Ministry of Housinj is of course unforgettable and the idea of cat-confusing was clearly presented as involving psychological condition so rare that it had yet to be named and could only be cured by the specially trained troupe of cat confusion personnel.

              • Posted September 19, 2019 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

                (Sorry, the above was meant to be a reply to the Revelator)

              • merilee
                Posted September 19, 2019 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

                I had forgotten about the Dept. of Housinj😂

            • Posted September 19, 2019 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

              My “show and tell” in school when I was 8 years old consisted entirely of recounting the contents of last night’s Monty Python. I can still remember the looks on the faces of the other kids when I was recounting that episode!

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted September 19, 2019 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

            Netflix has gone to war on Monty Python pirates at YouTube, but here’s Confuse-a-Cat at Daily Motion:

            • merilee
              Posted September 19, 2019 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

              Just soo sooo silly. Stun-a-stoat to follow. Cleese is always such a hoot with his swagger stick (and his crooked mustache, here).

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted September 19, 2019 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      Yakaru, you’ve got the wrong end of the stick in a big way!

      A skit about knocking doors offering to boil cats is not comedy. It becomes comedy when it’s a Brit animal lover’s door & your TV audience are cat lovers. Brits generally love their cats! [not speaking here of crueller times, when cats were not regarded as persons like they are today in the UK]

      A skit about torture isn’t funny until the context is framed:

      The crucifixion is hilarious because of the insouciance of all involved.
      The stoning is hilarious.
      The knight being chopped to pieces & wishing to fight on is hilarious
      The comfy chair torture is hilarious
      The killer rabbit is hilariously hilarious

      It’s about defying expectations & doesn’t indicate bloodthirsty British psyche one bit nor any other bad trait. British Society was stifling post-WWII & a few windows needed smashing – hence The Goons, TW3, The Establishment Club & Monty Python [& others not mentioned].

      • merilee
        Posted September 19, 2019 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

        Oooooo, not the comfy chair🙀 That’s part of the Spanish Inquisition sketch, isn’t it? I have the complete MP in VHS, but the VCR crapped out a few years ago. Must get them in DVD.

        • revelator60
          Posted September 19, 2019 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          I would wait until November, when Monty Python’s Flying Circus will be released on Blu-Ray, remastered, for the very first time.

          • merilee
            Posted September 19, 2019 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

            Thanks for the blu-ray tip!

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted September 19, 2019 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

          Graham Chapman: Trouble at mill.

          Carol Cleveland: Oh no – what sort of trouble?

          Chapman: One on’t cross beams gone owt askew on treddle.

          Cleveland: Pardon?

          Chapman: One on’t cross beams gone owt askew on treddle.

          Cleveland: I don’t understand what you’re saying.

          Chapman: (slightly irritatedly and with exaggeratedly clear accent) One of the cross beams has gone out askew on the treddle.

          Cleveland: Well what on earth does that mean?

          Chapman: *I* don’t know – Mr Wentworth just told me to come in here and say that there was trouble at the mill, that’s all – I didn’t expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

          (JARRING CHORD)

          (The door flies open and Cardinal Ximinez of Spain (Palin) enters, flanked by two junior cardinals. Cardinal Biggles (Jones) has goggles pushed over his forehead. Cardinal Fang (Gilliam) is just Cardinal Fang)

          Ximinez: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise…surprise and fear…fear and surprise…. Our two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency…. Our *three* weapons are fear, and surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope…. Our *four*…no… *Amongst* our weapons…. Amongst our weaponry…are such elements as fear, surprise…. I’ll come in again. (Exit and exeunt)

          Chapman: I didn’t expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

          (JARRING CHORD)

          (The cardinals burst in)

          Ximinez: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms – Oh damn! (To Cardinal Biggles) I can’t say it – you’ll have to say it.

          Biggles: What?

          Ximinez: You’ll have to say the bit about ‘Our chief weapons are …’

          Biggles: (rather horrified): I couldn’t do that… (Ximinez bundles the cardinals outside again)

          Chapman: I didn’t expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

          (JARRING CHORD)

          (The cardinals enter)

          Biggles: Er…. Nobody…um….

          Ximinez: Expects…

          Biggles: Expects… Nobody expects the…um…the Spanish…um…

          Ximinez: Inquisition.

          Biggles: I know, I know! Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. In fact, those who do expect –

          Ximinez: Our chief weapons are…

          Biggles: Our chief weapons are…um…er…

          Ximinez: Surprise…

          Biggles: Surprise and —

          Ximinez: Okay, stop. Stop. Stop there – stop there. Stop. Phew! Ah! …our chief weapons are surprise…blah blah blah. Cardinal, read the charges.

          Fang: You are hereby charged that you did on diverse dates commit heresy against the Holy Church. ‘My old man said follow the–‘

          Biggles: That’s enough. (To Cleveland) Now, how do you plead?

          Cleveland: We’re innocent.

          Ximinez: Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

          (Superimposed caption: ‘DIABOLICAL LAUGHTER’)

          Biggles: We’ll soon change your mind about that!

          (Superimposed caption: ‘DIABOLICAL ACTING’)

          Ximinez: Fear, surprise, and a most ruthless– (controls himself with a supreme effort) Ooooh! Now, Cardinal — the rack!

          (Biggles produces a plastic-coated dish-drying rack. Ximinez looks at it and clenches his teeth in an effort not to lose control. He hums heavily to cover his anger)

          Ximinez: You….Right! Tie her down.

          (Fang and Biggles make a pathetic attempt to tie her on to the drying rack)

          Ximinez: Right! How do you plead?

          Cleveland: Innocent.

          Ximinez: Ha! Right! Cardinal, give the rack (oh dear) give the rack a turn.

          (Biggles stands their awkwardly and shrugs his shoulders)

          Biggles: I….

          Ximinez: (gritting his teeth) I *know*, I know you can’t. I didn’t want to say anything. I just wanted to try and ignore your crass mistake.

          Biggles: I…

          Ximinez: It makes it all seem so stupid.

          Biggles: Shall I…?

          Ximinez: Oh, go on, just pretend for God’s sake. Ha! Ha! Ha!

          (Biggles turns an imaginary handle on the side of the dish-rack)

          (Cut to them torturing a dear old lady, Marjorie Wilde).

          Ximinez: Now, old woman — you are accused of heresy on three counts — heresy by thought, heresy by word, heresy by deed, and heresy by action — *four* counts. Do you confess?

          Wilde: I don’t understand what I’m accused of.

          Ximinez: Ha! Then we shall make you understand! Biggles! Fetch…THE CUSHIONS! (JARRING CHORD)

          (Biggles holds out two ordinary modern household cushions)

          Biggles: Here they are, lord.

          Ximinez: Now, old lady — you have one last chance. Confess the heinous sin of heresy, reject the works of the ungodly — *two* last chances. And you shall be free — *three* last chances. You have three last chances, the nature of which I have divulged in my previous utterance.

          Wilde: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

          Ximinez: Right! If that’s the way you want it — Cardinal! Poke her with the soft cushions!

          (Biggles carries out this rather pathetic torture)

          Ximinez: Confess! Confess! Confess!

          Biggles: It doesn’t seem to be hurting her, lord.

          Ximinez: Have you got all the stuffing up one end?

          Biggles: Yes, lord.

          Ximinez (angrily hurling away the cushions): Hm! She is made of harder stuff! Cardinal Fang! Fetch…THE COMFY CHAIR!

          (JARRING CHORD)

          (Zoom into Fang’s horrified face)

          Fang (terrified): The Comfy Chair?

          (Biggles pushes in a comfy chair — a really plush one)

          Ximinez: So you think you are strong because you can survive the soft cushions. Well, we shall see. Biggles! Put her in the Comfy Chair!

          (They roughly push her into the Comfy Chair)

          Ximinez (with a cruel leer): Now — you will stay in the Comfy Chair until lunch time, with only a cup of coffee at eleven. (aside, to Biggles) Is that really all it is?

          Biggles: Yes, lord.

          Ximinez: I see. I suppose we make it worse by shouting a lot, do we? Confess, woman. Confess! Confess! Confess! Confess!

          Biggles: I confess!

          Ximinez: Not you!

          • merilee
            Posted September 19, 2019 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

            Never fails to crack me up🤣

          • Posted September 19, 2019 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

            Architect: …The guests are transported by a conveyor belt in extreme comfort, past murals depicting Mediterranean scenes, towards the rotating knives. The last 20 feet of the corridor are heavily sound proofed. the blood pours into these chutes and the mangled flesh slurps into these–”
            Building Committee: Did you say knives?”
            Architect: Rotating knives, yes.
            Committee: Are you proposing to slaughter our tenants?
            Architect: Does this not fit in with your plans?

            (I recall that sketch as it ends with the next candidate being the Spanish Inquisition. Ah, I didn’t expect the…)

      • Posted September 19, 2019 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

        To all the examples, yes. I’d Add Sir Lancelot apologising for “just getting carried away” while slaughtering dozens of wedding guests at Swamp Castle, or Eric Idle’s hilarious sketch of the mass murderer telling the judge “I’m very very sorry and I’ll never do it again” for killing a ridiculously long list of people on June the 23 at 10.37 am.

        Also the song about Sir Robin withstanding bizarre tortures is funny, though I think borderline — again there it draws on the tradition of bizarre tortures being inherently funny.

        I only noted it in my original comment as I thought the author of the cited article could have mentioned some areas where comedy has had to revise its material.

        But have another look at the Lumberjack Song, and see if you don’t wince a few times.

        And I only mean wince — nothing more. (And I’m only defending my comments because it’s a chance to talk about Monty Python, otherwise I’d accept the criticism as valid viewpoints.)

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted September 20, 2019 at 12:28 am | Permalink

          Lumberjack song extracts:

          I cut down trees. I skip and jump.
          I like to press wild flowers.
          I put on women’s clothing
          And hang around in bars.

          I cut down trees. I wear high heels,
          Suspendies, and a bra.
          I wish I’d been a girlie,
          Just like my dear Papa.

          MOUNTIES:
          He cuts down trees. He wears high heels,
          Suspendies, and a bra?!
          [talking]
          What’s this? Wants to be a girlie?! Oh, My!
          And I thought you were so rugged! Poofter!
          [from outraged distant voices complaining about the lumberjacks & walking out in disgust – song resumes…]

          No wincing here, it just seems funny to me. Funny & juvenile.

          It reminds me of the two outrageously camp early ’60s radio characters JULIAN & SANDY who had a weekly sketch on the BBC radio comedy programme Round the Horne [1965 – 68]. I was only 10 so I didn’t get the innuendo, but it was extraordinarily funny for me & for adults & for gays too [by all reports I’ve seen anyway] at a time when homosexual acts between men was illegal.

          SANDY: Don’t mention Málaga to Julian, he got very badly stung.
          HORNE: Portuguese man o’ war?
          JULIAN: Well I never saw him in uniform…

          The stuff from the era that makes me wince is some of the sexism & all of the racism. The late ’50s – early ’60s saw a huge influx of Irish [my family], West Indians & Asians [in that chronological order] & there was open racism everywhere. It has been driven underground by legislation & popular opinion, but it’s still here in the UK, bobbing along like anti-shipping mines. It will not go away.

          • Posted September 20, 2019 at 4:40 am | Permalink

            Ok, ok… And indeed the outraged voices and complaints to the station are represented in order to be lampooned. I guess you’re right…

            But I still insist that Tiddles should not have been been flung across the room into a bucket of water. (I have to do something to rescue my reputation.)

            Nor, from a later era, should Manuel have been poked in the eye, though being hit on the forehead with a spoon was ok. I’m going to insist on these distinctions!

  23. Posted September 18, 2019 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    I’m probably just echoing sentiments of other commenters but I’ll add my vote anyway.

    I think the purity tests, obsession over words, and other tricks have been around forever but their current application to mainstream issues such as gender and race, along with the increased delivery efficiency of social and mass media, have made it a big deal.

    I don’t so much view Monty Python as prescient as still applicable.

    • Al
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      Controlling people by coercing them to describe phenomena in ways inconsistent with observable reality is an old game which Orwell understood very well. There is a concerted effort underway to undermine Western society by such means. If one takes transgender issues, for example, you would expect an honest activist whose real goal is to increase acceptance of transgenderism to emphasise the biological basis of the phenomenon and appeal to a sense of fairness. The fact that activists have gone straight for mandating acceptance of the most extreme position that a big, hairy bruiser with a beard is a woman if he says he is should tell you what the game is. They can get away with this now because the institutions are either on board or paying lip service, which was not so much the case in the seventies.

      • Mike Anderson
        Posted September 18, 2019 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        The fact that activists have gone straight for mandating acceptance of the most extreme position that a big, hairy bruiser with a beard is a woman if he says he is should tell you what the game is.

        Have you ever seen or heard of such a thing? Sounds a little hyperbolic.

        • Al
          Posted September 19, 2019 at 8:46 am | Permalink

          You haven’t seen such things? This is the logical conclusion of a theory of gender rooted in the denial of the biological basis of it. People are whatever gender they choose to be whatever they look like. The activists don’t just insist that you respect a biological man’s right to feel like a woman, but that he IS a woman if he says so. The fact that this clashes with other biologically based elements of “woke” gender theory is not a problem when insistence on logical consistency is a tool of the Patriarchy.

      • Posted September 18, 2019 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

        Someone should figure out what causes a movement to abandon good arguments for authoritarian arguments. I suspect it happens when the authoritarian arguments are allowed to work but there’s more to it than that.

        • Posted September 19, 2019 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

          If we had sane social epistemology, this would be a good topic for it …

          (Unfortunately a lot of social epistemology ignores or worse disdains truth, so …)

  24. eheffa
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    The Stoning scene is pure genius.

    I get a belly laugh every time I think of it.

    -evan

    • merilee
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      With the fake beards for sale to women…

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      For me, it’s the Latin graffiti scene. All those mistakes are common “learning Latin” mistakes so it’s really hilarious if you’ve ever studied Latin.

      • merilee
        Posted September 18, 2019 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Oh I loved the graffiti scene!! Having to cross everything out in red paint and writing it over again correctly. 😂

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted September 19, 2019 at 1:35 am | Permalink

          Sounds kinda like graffiti in the stalls of the women’s toilets in the Linguistics Dept. at UC Berkeley back in the 1970s and 80s.

          • merilee
            Posted September 19, 2019 at 10:34 am | Permalink

            ✔️❗️

      • Richard
        Posted September 18, 2019 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

        “People called the Romanes they go the house?”

        I was fortunate to study Latin at school from age 12 to 16, so loved this scene.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted September 18, 2019 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

          I loved the part where he selects the indicative verb and not the imperative (ite). I had a professor who would give bonus marks for writing any correct sentence in Latin or Greek on a test or exam. I wrote Romani ite domum regularly.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted September 18, 2019 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

            I love the stoning scene, and the giggling soldier, but I think my favourite (out of many) is “I want to be a woman”.

            Life of Brian remains my favourite comedy movie of all time.

            cr

            • GBJames
              Posted September 18, 2019 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

              You see? We do have something in common!

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted September 18, 2019 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

              I just re-watched that scene and the acting is impressive – there’s only one cut, at 40 seconds in, the remaining 70 seconds are uncut. That’s pretty good for a dialogue scene.

              Though I think for the last half minute ‘Loretta’ is quietly corpsing to him/herself.

              cr

              • merilee
                Posted September 18, 2019 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

                Learned a new word: corpsing🤓

              • BJ
                Posted September 18, 2019 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

                Yes what makes that scene and so many Python sketches and scenes in general is not just the writing, but the absolutely pinpoint perfect comedic timing. They could do it for an entire sketch with no cuts. One can’t help but marvel at it.

              • JezGrove
                Posted September 19, 2019 at 6:25 am | Permalink

                “Corpsing” is British theatrical slang. My dad was in the RSC in the ’70s and was borough for trying to get other actors to corpse. He even had a terrible joke book of mine bound in black cloth so that he could take it on stage without anyone realizing it wasn’t an official prop.

              • JezGrove
                Posted September 19, 2019 at 6:30 am | Permalink

                Doh – not “borough” – that should be “notorious”. Not sure how I let auto correct do that!

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted September 18, 2019 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

              GBJ, all joking aside, we probably have quite a lot in common. But we also have our differences. That’s just the way it is.

              cr

              • GBJames
                Posted September 19, 2019 at 8:22 am | Permalink

                “all joking aside”

                Over my dead body!

          • Jenny Haniver
            Posted September 19, 2019 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

            I’m replying to another comment you made earlier in this general thread, but there’s no “reply” below it to click for reply, so I write my comment here.

            You wrote that you used an app to listen to Andrew Doyle of Titania McGrath, et al., and I urge you to check out Jarvis DuPont’s twitter account if you haven’t done so recently https://twitter.com/JarvisDupont, where he announced a few days ago that Titania McGrath had yet again been suspended temporarily from twitter. So sad and what an outrage! She speaks Truth to Power! and is a damned good poetessa, too.

            Today, Jarvis has some new, damning information on Justin Trudeau, as well as other juicy tweets.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted September 20, 2019 at 6:12 am | Permalink

              Pretty funny. I’ve followed him – thanks!

  25. Paul
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    It’s a somewhat dicey proposition to use a Monty Python sketch as a validation of one’s political views. Monty Python targeted everyone including Russian agricultural ministers, German tourists, French waiters, Italian mobsters, and Belgians in general. They poked fun at conservatives who foamed at the mouth while falling over backwards and liberals in search of gender identity. When at their best and most incisive, they made fun of humanity- from kings to highwaymen.
    From such an extensive body of work, one could easily cherrypick a sketch poking fun at Trumpists. The sketch “Fat Ignorant Bastards” – with the line “making the world safe for ignorance” is absolutely prescient!

  26. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    PC, you really should re-watch it. It’s just as funny – and pointed – now as when it was first made.

    Also, it’s probably the most-referenced movie in the comments on your site, if you need another reason. 😉

    cr

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      That should have been ‘PCC’, not ‘PC’. That was a typo, not a Freudian slip. 🙂

      cr

  27. tjeales
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    The left’s autophagia is one of its defining qualities

  28. ladyatheist
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    I think the Dead Parrot sketch illustrates the Python take on being unoffensive — the customer uses every euphemism for dead. Why are there so many euphemisms for the word “dead”? Because not giving offense was a British cultural rule. It’s not prescient, that I can tell.

    • David Harper
      Posted September 19, 2019 at 2:20 am | Permalink

      I think that the real target of the sketch was poor customer service. After all, both Michael Palin (the shopkeeper) and John Cleese (the customer) use the word “dead” repeatedly throughout the sketch. And after the pet shop scenes, the sketch goes on to make fun of British Rail, which was almost a by-word for poor service at the time.

  29. Mark Joseph
    Posted September 18, 2019 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Even though Life of Brian is much better known, I suspect that people on this list would also get a kick out of Connie Willis’ 1988 short story Much Ado About (Censored), (also published under the title Ado), which is about what becomes of Shakespeare’s play once what we would now call woke extremism gets hold of it. Extremely funny.

    This site has a list of anthologies in which the story has appeared; a couple of them should be in most libraries.

  30. Jeff McCoy
    Posted September 19, 2019 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    I saw “Life of Brian ” when it originally came out. I was only 16. I laughed so hard. Still to this day it’s the funniest movie I’ve seen in my entire life. Who knew what it could mean today ? When Stan wants to be called Loretta and starts using pronouns, it just seemed like a joke. Now look at pronouns. Where’s the baby going to gestate? Are going to keep it in a box? Now that’s funny. And then there’s Biggus Dickus.

  31. Posted September 19, 2019 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    Woke culture grew out of gender feminism, which—while it reached its peak in the 1980s—was definitely around for Monthy Python to be (at least) inspired by. Read Christna Huff Summer’s book on “Who Stole Feminism” to see the many parallels between the two movements.

  32. Posted September 19, 2019 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    It doesn’t predict the “woke craziness”, but it retrodicts the way a lot of authoritarian movements work – cannibalizing themselves or their near-neighbours.

  33. Marty Malone
    Posted September 20, 2019 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    How true….sad and worrying.
    God help us

  34. Mike Laursen
    Posted September 20, 2019 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I dunno. If you give Monty Python credit for predicting “woke” culture, you really have to give the credit to Jesus, who criticized the Pharisees. That’s where Monty Python got their ideas.


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