And Now for Something Completely Different

Critical Approaches to Monty Python

Edited by Kate Egan, Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock

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Explores the range of factors that contribute to Monty Python’s continuing status as ‘something different’
  • A reappraisal of the originality, influence and impact of Monty Python’s comedy output, from the perspective of its 50 years of cultural circulation
  • Includes analyses of a range of Monty Python’s output, from the Monty Python’s Flying Circus television show, to the Monty Python films, albums, and live shows, including consideration of Monty Python’s use of music and songs and forms of animation
  • Explores the production contexts and practices adopted, and the range of comedic strategies employed, across Monty Python’s comedy output, as well as considering its cult status and fan reception
  • Includes new critical analyses of a range of Python sketches and scenes, including The Funniest Joke in the World, Mr Hilter, Dead Parrot, Confuse-a-Cat, Albatross, Hell’s Grannies, Bicycle Repairman, The Black Knight, The Constitutional Peasant, and Mr Creosote

Examining Monty Python’s enduring status as an unconventional, anti-authoritarian comedy touchstone, this book reappraises Python’s comedy output from the perspective of its fifty years of cultural circulation. Reconsidering the group’s originality, impact and durability, a range of international scholars explores Python’s influences, production contexts, frequently controversial themes, and the cult status and forms of fandom associated with Python in the present day. From television sketches, including The Funniest Joke in the World, Hell’s Grannies, Dead Parrot and Confuse-a-Cat, to the films Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life, to songs from the albums and live shows, this book is a ground-breaking critical analysis of the Monty Python phenomenon.

List of illustrations

Acknowledgements

Notes on contributors

Kate Egan and Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, ‘It’s… The Introduction’

PART I: SITUATING PYTHON

1. Rick Hudson, ‘Six Comics in Search of a …: Monty Python and Absurdist/Surrealist

Theatre’

2. Gina Wisker, ‘"‘None shall pass" and "The skull beneath the skin": Monty Python, the British Class System, and Death’

3. Anna Martonfi, ‘Der Ver Zwei Peanuts: Depictions of a Distant War in Monty Python’s Flying Circus

PART II: PYTHON’S PRACTICES, FORMS AND MEDIUMS

4. James Leggott, ‘The Royal Philharmonic Goes to the Bathroom: The Music of Monty Python’

5. Paul Wells, ‘The Disruptive Metamorphoses of an Impish God: Gilliam's Satiric Animation’

6. Ewan Wilson, ‘Figures Traced in Shite: The Scribe, The Illuminator, and Monty Python’s Holy Grail

PART III: CONTEXTS AND REPRESENTATIONS

7. Caroline Langhorst, ‘Grannies from Hell, Daring Bicycle Repairmen, Upper-Class Twits and "Make Tea Not Love": Monty Python’s Flying Circus and 1960s British (Popular) Culture’

8. Brett Mills, ‘The Parrot, the Albatross, and the Cat: Animals and Comedy in Monty

Python’

9. Kathleen J. Cassity, ‘"Political Correctness", Reversal, and Incongruity: Dynamics of Humour in Life of Brian

PART IV: CULT, FANDOM AND PYTHON

10. Ernest Mathijs, ‘Philosophy, Absurdity, Waste and The Meaning of Life – A Cult Film, Of Sorts’

11. Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, ‘In Praise of Silliness: The Cult of Python’

12. Kate Egan, ‘Memories of Connecting: Fathers, Daughters and Intergenerational Monty Python Fandom’

Fifty years on, And Now For Something Completely Different provides a timely retrospective on the troupe’s transformation from absurdist cult TV to global comedy lingua franca. Egan and Weinstock’s clutch of new scholarly perspectives effectively historicises Python in popular culture. As Pythonology goes, this is pretty much the full Monty.
Justin Smith, De Montfort University
A fresh and broad-ranging collection that both builds on existing work on Monty Python, and takes several new approaches. This will be an important contribution to the field.
Leon Hunt, Brunel University London
If you’re after a series of lively, insightful and highly accessible essays about every aspect of Monty Python – from its use of stock music to its representation of animals – then this book is completely and utterly for you.
Oliver Double, University of Kent
This outstanding collection finds innovative, compelling things to say about the global cult of Python. Exploring absurdism and gothic horror, music and animation, deceased parrots and ‘political correctness’, Egan and Weinstock have gathered together a brilliant troupe of scholars. Including a focus on cult comedy and fandom, And Now For Something Completely Different makes a real difference to our understandings of Monty Python.
Professor Matt Hills, University of Huddersfield, UK
Dr Kate Egan is Senior Lecturer in Film and Media at Northumbria University

Professor Jeffrey Weinstock is Professor of English at Central Michigan University

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