Wednesday, October 5, 2016

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Review: The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus: All the Words Volume 1 and Volume 2

Whether you post your opinions at a site that allows comments, or read social media posts, sooner or later you may be puzzled by references to the legendary walking tree of Dahomey1, or  E. Henry Thripshaw's Disease2.

Maybe it's simply a snide aside about "Mrs. Betty Teal and her lover in Boulton." Actually, it probably wouldn't be them; Mrs. Teal paid the requested £15, so the name of her lover in Boulton was kept secret. But it might be one of the other hapless victims of BLACKMAIL, a Pythonesque parody of a Candid Camera-style game-show.
PRESENTER: Hello, sir, hello, yes. No sir, no. I'm sure you didn't. No, it's all right sir, we don't morally censure, we just want the money... Yes, and here's the address to send it to:
(caption read in voice over)

Perhaps you see a plea for the words to "The Lumberjack Song", but by the time you've fired up your VCR, fast-forwarded through the wrong 18 episodes to find it, transcribed the words and got back to your computer, six other people have already answered.

Dear Sir, I wish to complain in the strongest possible terms about the song which you have just broadcast, about the lumberjack who wears women's clothes. Many of my best friends are lumberjacks and only a few of them are transvestites. Yours faithfully,
Brigadier Sir Charles Arthur Strong (Mrs).
P.S. I have never kissed the editor of the Radio Times.

Help is here in the two volumes of The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus: All The Words. Here is the complete dialog of the "Parrot Sketch", the entire menu recitation that sets off the Vikings in the "Spam Sketch", the five Bruces of the "Philosophy Department of the University of Woolahmooloo".

Fourth Bruce: No. Right, well, gentlemen, I'll just remind you of the faculty rules. Rule one—no pooftahs. Rule two—no member of the faculty is to mistreat the Abbos in any way whatsoever if there's anyone watching. Rule three—no pooftahs. Rule four—I don't want to catch anyone not drinking in their room after lights out. Rule five—no pooftahs. Rule six—there is no... rule six. Rule seven—no pooftahs.

Both books include a complete cross-referenced index; items from the other volume appear in italics in the index of each book. What isn't in these volumes is the brilliant cartoonery and illustration of Terry Gilliam, nor the bizarre credits that sometimes reflected the insanity that went before. (Some of Gilliam's graphics are described, where they are essential to the story or critical to the joke.) An insert of photos from the well-known episodes is also included in each volume.
Cardinal Ximenez: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

I've been enjoying these volumes for years, and find them essential to my reputation as a Python-quoter. I recommend them for any Flying Circus debater who wishes to reach the next level.

Liner Notes:

  1. Nicholas Parsons, for whom the Pythons named the walking oak, is a long-time (long-running?) British game-show host and radio personality, seen in the US on The Benny Hill Show. To my astonishment, the 92-year-old Parsons still lives near London.
  2. I actually purchased an E. Henry Thripshaw's Disease t-shirt, and wore it often in the 1980s. Alas, it no longer fits.
  3. My favorite bit is The Poet Ewan McTeagle, with its allusions to pompously-hammy Shakespeare sonnet readers and the real Scottish doggerel poet William McGonnagall.