Friday, April 13, 2007

Monty Python & the Newly Rediscovered Humor

most people already know that the clever chaps of Monty Python put together some very humorous pieces of work; for me, the movies were a bit more entertaining than the T.V. show maybe due in part to some of the television skits being predicated on the viewer having some in-knowledge of British politics or society or whatever.

the first Monty Python movie i ever saw was Monty Python and the Holy Grail, during my teenage years; having watched it again not too long ago, i made note that the funniest part of the movie to me during the re-viewing was not the same scene that had left me in stitches during the first go-around (that being the Black Knight hilariously losing all of his limbs in combat with King Arthur, with no accompanying loss of bravado).

the scene whose dialogue had me cracking up most recently was one that i recall barely registering during my first time watching The Grail; it's probably typical, when younger you find more humor in visual gags and simpler setups and as you age you become increasingly more aware of subtle humor, wordplay, etc.

what was formerly known to me as "the part that is one or two scenes before the Black Knight part" is now the "humorous look at probable real-life reactions of the populus to fairy-tale-style methods of ascendancy to control over a country or people". to spread the wealth and hopefully put a smile on your face , i share the transcript of that scene here

ARTHUR = King Arthur
DENNIS, WOMAN = common peasants sifting through a muddy crevasse

(please employ British accents in your mind as appropriate when reading; also, the best parts have been placed in bold for emphasis of the truly masterful bits of writing):
ARTHUR: Old woman!
ARTHUR: Old Man, sorry. What knights live in that castle over there?
DENNIS: I'm thirty seven.
DENNIS: I'm thirty seven -- I'm not old!
ARTHUR: Well, I can't just call you `Man'.
DENNIS: Well, you could say `Dennis'.
ARTHUR: Well, I didn't know you were called `Dennis.'
DENNIS: Well, you didn't bother to find out, did you?
ARTHUR: I did say sorry about the `old woman,' but from the behind you looked--
DENNIS: What I object to is you automatically treat me like an inferior!
ARTHUR: Well, I AM king...
DENNIS: Oh king, eh, very nice. An' how'd you get that, eh? By exploitin' the workers -- by 'angin' on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic an' social differences in our society! If there's ever going to be any progress--
WOMAN: Dennis, there's some lovely filth down here. Oh -- how d'you do?
ARTHUR: How do you do, good lady. I am Arthur, King of the Britons. Whose castle is that?
WOMAN: King of the who?
ARTHUR: The Britons.
WOMAN: Who are the Britons?
ARTHUR: Well, we all are. we're all Britons and I am your king.
WOMAN: I didn't know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective. DENNIS: You're fooling yourself. We're living in a dictatorship. A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes--
WOMAN: Oh there you go, bringing class into it again.
DENNIS: That's what it's all about if only people would--
ARTHUR: Please, please good people. I am in haste. Who lives in that castle?
WOMAN: No one live there.
ARTHUR: Then who is your lord?
WOMAN: We don't have a lord.
DENNIS: I told you. We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week.
DENNIS: But all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special biweekly meeting.
ARTHUR: Yes, I see.
DENNIS: By a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs,--
ARTHUR: Be quiet!
DENNIS: --but by a two-thirds majority in the case of more--
ARTHUR: Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!
WOMAN: Order, eh -- who does he think he is?
ARTHUR: I am your king!
WOMAN: Well, I didn't vote for you.
ARTHUR: You don't vote for kings.
WOMAN: Well, 'ow did you become king then?
ARTHUR: The Lady of the Lake, [angels sing] her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water signifying by Divine Providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. [singing stops] That is why I am your king!
DENNIS: Listen -- strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
ARTHUR: Be quiet!
DENNIS: Well you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!
ARTHUR: Shut up!
DENNIS: I mean, if I went around sayin' I was an emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me they'd put me away!
ARTHUR: Shut up! Will you shut up!
DENNIS: Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system.
ARTHUR: Shut up!
DENNIS: Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! HELP! HELP! I'm being repressed!
ARTHUR: Bloody peasant!
DENNIS: Oh, what a give away. Did you here that, did you here that, eh? That's what I'm on about -- did you see him repressing me, you saw it didn't you?

that's the kind of humor that i respect; writing that takes a concept you wouldn't think twice about in the context of fictional tales (Lady of the Lake making Arthur king. sure, why not?) and turning it on its ear. classic


Anonymous said...

at the risk of exposing what a nerd I was, one of my catchphrases in high school was "See the violence inherent in the system!"

The Social Bobcat said...

hmmm, but what risk of nerd-exposure is inherent when you surf the interwebs behind a pseudonym?

(apologies if your legal name is, in fact, 'person')

Anonymous said...

hmm indeed. Why would a nameless, faceless person need a pseudonym?