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EW: Monty Python's funniest sketches

By Chris Nashawaty
Entertainment Weekly


YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
Comedy

(Entertainment Weekly) -- "Spamalot" hit Broadway on March 17, and in celebration, Entertainment Weekly remembers Monty Python's 20 best sketches.

It all began on the night of October 5, 1969, when a strange sketch-comedy show called "Monty Python's Flying Circus" debuted on the BBC.

Perhaps "strange" is the wrong word. After all, the show opens with a shot of an old man with scraggly hair, a mangy beard and tattered clothing walking out of the ocean. Was he a castaway? A comedian? Did he have anything to do with a circus?

As he staggered onto the beach and collapsed on the sand, he managed to mutter one strained word: ''It's ...''

Then, a voice-over announced, ''Monty Python's Flying Circus.'' Absurd title animation unspooled. The rousing marching-band overture of ''The Liberty Bell'' kicked in.

For the next 30 minutes, Monty Python rained a machine-gun fusillade of skits about Mozart, Genghis Khan and men in Viking helmets with only the slightest of strings connecting them all. There was almost no laughter from the live audience. In fact, they had no clue what the hell they were witnessing.

Monty Python was made up of five Cambridge and Oxford grads (John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Eric Idle) and one American (Minneapolis-born animator Terry Gilliam). And they knew more about television than they let on.

They'd all been writers and performers on shows like David Frost's "The Frost Report" and the kiddie program "Do Not Adjust Your Set." Still, it wasn't until the Pythons banded together during their four seasons on the BBC that they were able to desconstruct and reassemble TV comedy on their own terms, revolutionizing the medium -- and comedy -- forever.

Now, after three decades of nearly messianic devotion on both sides of the Atlantic, the Pythons are storming Broadway (though not in person) with Idle's musical, "Monty Python's Spamalot," inspired by the 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

In honor of the musical's premiere, Entertainment Weekly has made a list of the troupe's 20 all-time funniest sketches. Click hereexternal link to see if your faves made the list.


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