I remember one of my high school English teachers being horrified that only two of us had heard of John Cleese, and with the greatness known as Monty Python, who can blame her?
Known primarily for Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and probably just for being funny and British in general, the legendary sketch troupe is responsible for popularizing many comedic styles and creating groundbreaking sketches, including several for the bookish, grammar-appreciating, literature enthusiasts among us.
And now, for something completely different, head to YouTube and sit back and enjoy five of Monty Python’s best literature- and English- related sketches.
1. Agatha Christie: You know this one will be good because Inspector Tiger (“Tiger?” “Where?!”) spends the first minute of the sketch trying to figure out the correct way to say that nobody can leave the room. The rest of the sketch unravels into police officers and inspectors with weird names trying to solve a murder that might not have even happened. There’s no specific mention of Agatha in the sketch, but the whodunit premise is definitely a tip of the hat to one of the queens of mystery.
2. Literary Football: Basically a football (the British version, so, soccer) postgame show that’s described with the most intricate language ever, this sketch features an interviewer who makes every move in a football game sound like it’s coming straight from a grad student’s thesis paper…to go along with the slightly less highbrow responses he receives from the player he’s talking to.
3. The Man Who Talks in Anagrams and The Man Who Speaks Only the Ends of Words: I listed these two together because they’re each less than two minutes, but they both show just how awesome the members of Monty Python are at wordplay, enunciation, and twisting language around to get a pretty hysterical result.
4. A Book at Bedtime: In a matter of two and a half minutes, several members of Monty Python show how even though it can be challenging at first, it’s ultimately really fun to spend some time reading before bed, especially if you’re reading with friends.
5. Romanes Eunt Domus: This one’s my personal favorite out of this list, and also one of my favorite Python bits in general. From Monty Python’s Life of Brian, this scene shows what happens when a centurion catches Brian defacing Pontius Pilate’s palace with an anti-Roman phrase. And without giving anything away, it’s probably the last thing someone would expect, but also the most excellent.