Who? What? When? How? Why?

I've been thinking about this since I got such short shrift from HCAO on thina's question game thread, but let's not dwell on the past. Feelings were hurt, true, but time has passed; now let's move on. ;)

Mr. Cleese has, on occasion, expressed surprise at the fact that Python was not picked up and developed by subsequent comedians. I have my own theory why, which is mine and what it is, and I'm not interested in yours: I don't think anyone could have built on the foundations Python laid in quite the same way that the Pythons built on what the Goons, Beyond the Fringe, Not Only... But Also, etc. had achieved because Python was so fundamentally idiosyncratic that it effectively took itself into an evolutionary dead end. Nobody could have picked up that particular baton (although I think Not the Nine O'Clock News probably came closest to doing so successfully) without being seen as a pale imitation of Python.

What I am interested in, however, is that, as HCAO so succinctly, curtly and peremptorily pointed out, many other comedy acts exhibit distinctly Python-ish, if not outright Pythonesque, influences in their acts.

  • Who? is easy. I'm sure everyone can point out which comedians are influenced by Python. (HCAO can, that's for sure.)
  • What? should be doable - just list those moments when they display Pythonesque tendencies.
  • When? by which I mean what particular turn of phrase (writing) or arched eyebrow (performance) reminds you of Python?
  • How? I may be disappearing up my own bottom with this one, but it's there if you want to answer it... perhaps: how is it funny - is it funny in its own right or because it's a Python reference? Or maybe: how is it delivered - Python in a straight way (Margaret Thatcher) or a straight line in a Python way (George W. Bush)? Or, perchance, a bizarre Chapmanesque surreal reference in an otherwise satirical or mundane scenario? (I think I got out of that one - no one will notice.)
  • Why? Was it deliberate? Did the performer intend to evoke the spirit of Python? Or was it completely unconscious?
  • Or - interpret each in your own way.

This doesn't have to turn into a dissection of comedy but I'm interested at least in Who? and either What? or When?

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TheRealGilliamFan: Who: South Park

What: The animation style is inspired by Gilly for sure, and their total could-give-a-shit attitude towards political correctness is very Pythonesque.

When/Where: Every episode.

Why: Beats me but it's working for them.

the_thina: I have always felt that THE YOUNG ONES has many pythonesque moments.
there is no big secret that rik and ade are into python, and for heavens sake, terry jones was even in one episode!
there are many examples, but the one that comes first to mind is when the guys are having some big argument, then the camera zooms in on this match-box on a shelf with aq bit of dramatic music, and the match-box says "dont look at me, Im irrelevant!"
the show (for those of you who havent seen it) was made between 82 and 85 I think it was, and I have often felt that if flying circus came around in the early 80s instaid of in the late 60s the shows would probobly be very much like siblings.

genji at 11:58 am November 25

The four Young Ones characters were obvious stereotypes and within the show represented different typical pop culture genres. Both the writers and performers of The Young Ones, however, were very aware of their comedy heritage (the show and the whole alternative comedy movement, for example, was a deliberate reaction against the vacuum that remained following the ebb of satire and surrealism - a vacuum that was filled by the social atrocities of Bernard Manning, Jim Davidson and, latterly, Roy 'Chubby' Brown and their ilk).

Which of The Young Ones characters (Mike, Vyvyan, Rick, Neil, Mr. Balowski) would you say most closely represented the Python attitude? All of them constantly, all of them but at different times, or perhaps one of them - and, if only one, who did the others represent?

the_thina at 12:37 pm November 25

well, I think the constant arguing is very python. it was much arguing in python as well, of course john usually did that best. python never had physical voilence to speak of, but the young ones did, but then again, I think that is the 15 or so years between the shows that made that happen.
rick and vyv are to me the most pythoneque characters of the show. but neil has his moments too, and mike (my least favourite) I guess is put in to be the straight man, but he does not do such a good job of it as for example graham did in for example holt grail and life of brian. some of alexis (his name is alexis if I remember correctly?) characters comes pretty close too at times, but I still say rick and vyv.

and oh btw, I steal a line from vyv when I done something really stupid. then I will go "I had to! I was drunk!" ;)

the_thina at 12:45 pm November 25

oh and ps. I touched on this in my original post, but also the compete random things that happen now and again reminds me of python. like the guy who shows up and says he broke into his neighbours house and ate the fishtank.
and also the "puppets" sort of makes me think of gillys animations. for example the french fry and carrot ice-scating on a plate in the kitchen-sink. it was those things that attar cted me to the show at the tender age of 4 when I didnt know a word of english. :)

Here Comes Another One at 3:21 pm November 25

I always think of The Young Ones as the punk to Python's heavy rock: more similarities than those interested in cultural rebellion like to think. :-)

Here Comes Another One at 3:28 pm November 25

Should clarify: I mean academics & journalists. Who must all keep pigeons & shop at IKEA, so insistent are they with sorting things into boxes.

genji: I watched Believe - The Eddie Izzard Story last night. Being one of the more obvious Python successors I wasn't surprised by the moment he revealed Python to be one his chief influences. I was surprised that this message was driven home again and again by the use of Python animation to link scenes.

It's hugely gratifying to see Python references or inspiration in other performers' work, but it's even more satisfying to see someone so gladly, graciously and humbly give credit where credit's due.

mrsCutout at 3:44 pm November 24

That's true!Eddie himselfe is a fan! And he's a very good comedian in any way.It's good to know hi shows his influences!

Here Comes Another One: *Assumes role of Mrs Premise*: WELL!

Who? French & Saunders.
What? their 'Jackie and Leanne' characters - obsessive middle-aged (I think) women - esp. the mail order sketch - sorry, not on YouTube as far as I could tell.
When? throughout really, but especially when the characters get shrill & over-excited
How? I'm going to answer this question in three ways: first the way genji asked, second in my own interpretation, and third in a kind of silly high-pitched whine, which you'll just have to imagine for yourselves, but I think there's a pretty good reference point.
1. It's funny in its own right to me, because I saw it before I saw Python. But I imagine it would have a funnier dimension if you'd seen Python first.
2. How, as in, how does it remind me of Python: well, basically, they seem like pepperpots to me, except they're real women!
Why? I don't think it was deliberate in this case, but their parodies of middle age seem Pythonesque in general to me.

Who? The Young Ones.
What? the cheese shop sketch. Ahem! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yw2AOfE9suI
When? the whole thing.
How? It's a comedic in-joke - you have to have seen the original.
Why? Because Alexei Sayle's a smart-arse. (in a good way)

the_thina at 4:00 pm November 24

haha, thats my upload you used there (cheese-shop from young ones) nice to see people have found it. :)

Here Comes Another One at 4:44 pm October 31

Oh - I should have mentioned that I threw off the role of Mrs Premise before I started on the who what when etc. :-D

And yes, MrsCutout, I am HCAO. I, the alleged inspiration, now actually appearing in this thread. (Insert screaming crowd here) CITIZENS! FRIENDS OF THE REVOLUTION ... blah, blah, blah ...

gruggywoof: As I began reading your post, "NTNON" immediately sprang to mind... aaaand then you went and mentioned them anyway! Going to dwell on this one a little more. I think the essence is there in a lot of comedy - was going to mention Australia's "Aunty Jack show", but I suppose the only thing it shares in common with Python is the utter absurdity. Hmm.

mrsCutout: ok I am too tired to look for the vids but I will tomorrow! For the time being:Who is HCAO??

Colonel Daughter at 4:10 pm October 31

here comes another one

thewastelandr: I think a lot of British comedy took up the Python spirit, but Fry and Laurie stick out to me. Also Mitchell and Webb.

Colonel Daughter at 11:02 am October 31

Fry and Laurie A Lot! And I think it's intentional. Besides, they're from Footlights.
But in this video in particular, Fry throwing away the holiday snaps made me think of the second spanish Inquisition sketch :)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsbPjE5oI_U

genji at 11:12 am October 31

Yes, exactly - that must be a direct reference, even to the extent that it's defining Fry's and Laurie's characters. I would say it's quoting Python in a dryish manner. A non-Python audience will get the joke but a Python-savvy audience will get the joke and the reference, kind of like an American audience with Napoleon in the 'Mouse Problem'.

Thanks for that.

thewastelandr at 11:07 am October 31

YES!!!