Tag Archives: monty python

781. Film Club: Monty Python & The Holy Grail (revisited ) with Antony Rotunno [LEP / Film Gold SwapCast]

Talking to Antony Rotunno about a classic British comedy film which makes fun of the legend of King Arthur (and everything else!) Originally published by Antony on his Film Gold podcast earlier this year.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners, welcome back to Luke’s English Podcast!

This episode is called Film Club: Monty Python & The Holy Grail (revisited) with Antony Rotunno [LEP / Film Gold SwapCast].

I think the best way to give an introduction to this is just to explain the title. So let me do that.

I will try to keep this short, and I will probably fail.

Film Club

As you may know, from time to time I do these film club episodes in which I talk about films that I love. The idea is that I want to introduce you to films in English which I think are great, and which you might enjoy too and watching films can help with your learning of English as I have discussed before. You can watch these films in English with or without the English subtitles. I recommend doing a bit of both. Sometimes with subtitles, and sometimes without.

The idea is that you can listen to this episode and get to know the film through our comments and descriptions, then watch the film and hopefully understand and appreciate it a bit better, or just listen to this without watching the film at all if you prefer. There are a few audio clips from the film included, for educational purposes of course, so you will be able to hear some moments and scenes. 

Some of you will know the film already ← and if that is the case, congratulations – you get bonus points. If you know the film already, hopefully we will still be able to tell you something new about it, because there is a lot to say.

I hope you can get access to the film somehow. There’s always the DVD or BlueRay version if you still have a player, and at the time of recording this, I can see that Monty Python & The Holy Grail is available on Netflix, with subtitles in various languages and everything. I’ve also found the entire film on YouTube and it’s been there for 3 years, so you might be able to watch it there. I’ll include a link to that on the page for this episode, where you can also read this whole introduction transcript if you want. 

Monty Python & The Holy Grail

The film we’re talking about here is a British comedy film from 1975, by Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Just in case you don’t know, Monty Python’s Flying Circus is a group of comedians who did a TV series, some films, some stage shows and some audio albums, mostly in the 1960s and 1970s. 

The members are/were John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle. Sadly, Graham Chapman and Terry Jones are no longer with us.

They are/were all British, except for Terry Gilliam who is originally from the USA. 

This film is a ridiculous but very clever comedy adventure story about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. This fits in quite nicely with the recent episode with my dad about Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as I will say in a moment.

King Arthur is a mythical king from British history. We think he’s mythical, but there might have been a real King Arthur once upon a time who the myths are based on, but we’re not sure. 

But certainly there are various stories about Arthur in British culture, including legends about him searching for the Holy Grail – the cup which Jesus drank from during the Last Supper, which may or may not have found its way to the British isles at some point, and also stories of how Arthur first became King by either pulling a magic sword, called Excalibur, out of a rock, or by being given the sword by The Lady of the Lake – a magical enchantress or fairy – a supernatural woman who, in these old stories emerged from a lake to give the sword to Arthur, signifying that he had a god given right and duty to be the King and to unite the whole country. It’s sort of an origin story of the Royal Family, kind of, but also just a romantic tale which has been told again and again and again, particularly in England for many centuries. 

With this film, the Monty Python team decided to make a comedy version of the story of King Arthur’s quest to find the Holy Grail, set in medieval times.

The connection to the episode about Sir Gawain and the Green Night with my dad is that that is also a folklore story from the Arthurian legends – the set of stories associated with King Arthur and his Knights (that’s knights with a K). 

Monty Python & The Holy Grail, although a comedy, does also contain many of the same themes that are present in Sir Gawain & The Green Knight. There is honour, there is a quest into the unknown, there are games and challenges from various characters and beasts along the way, there is a temptation scene, there is an enchantress, there are duels with mysterious and deadly enemies but of course this film is a parody of all those idea – a joke version, making fun of all those tropes of medieval romantic adventures. The film is an affectionate parody of that whole story archetype. It also makes fun of plenty of other things as we will discuss.


I am revisiting this film on the podcast with this episode (talking about it again). I say that because I did an episode about this film on the podcast in 2014. Long-term listeners should remember that. It is in the archive if you want to check it out – episode 202. 

In that one I focused on just one scene from the film, in a lot of detail, breaking down all the language bit by bit, to help you understand it all. If you haven’t heard that – let me recommend it. It should be a good addition to this episode and you will hear me fully dissecting all the language and comedy in what is probably my favourite scene in the film. We also talk about that scene a little bit in this episode.

This time though, we’re dealing with the whole film, discussing it and giving an overview of the entire thing, how it was made, what it all means (if it means anything), and what happens in the story scene by scene.

With Antony Rotunno

The other person you will hear in this episode is Antony Rotunno. You’ve heard Antony a few times on this podcast now, most recently in the episode about Meditation. Antony is an English teacher, a podcaster and a musician from England.

LEP / Film Gold Swapcast

A swapcast is when two podcasts publish the same audio recording. So, this recording was first published by Antony on his film podcast earlier this year. His film podcast is called Film Gold. He edited this episode and published it in February. Antony said I could publish it on my podcast too so here you go. 

No doubt this episode will be epically long, which I think is totally fine I must say. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you don’t have to listen to it in one go. If you are using a podcast app on your phone you can pause any time, go and live your life for a while, and when you come back to the episode your podcast app will remember where you stopped. So, here’s a nice long episode for you to enjoy in your own time.

One note: If you are listening to this on YouTube and you want to activate the automatic subtitles, I have a suspicion that they won’t be available. I always activate the automatic subtitles on my YouTube videos, but sometimes YouTube just says “no”. I suspect that might be the case this time, which is a pity. So you might just have to survive without subtitles this time and focus on your listening skills rather than your reading skills. If it’s any consolation, my other episode about this film (ep 202) does have plenty of notes and scripts, which you will find on my website.

So in a moment LEP is going to transform into Film Gold, hosted by Antony with me as his guest. I must say thank you to Antony for doing all the editing and production work and allowing me to publish this here for my audience to enjoy. 

I would like to recommend Antony’s other podcasts to you again. He’s got three. You can find them wherever you get your podcasts.

Right then. In a moment you’re going to hear the pleasant sounds of Antony’s Film Gold intro music and then lots of sound effects, fanfares and crazy madness for a minute or two. 

If you wonder what that is, it’s the audio from the original movie trailer for Monty Python & The Holy Grail. 

As you will hear, one of the jokes in the trailer is that the person doing the voice over keeps being fired and replaced. We start with a cheesy American announcer, then we get a couple of English guys who can’t really read very well and finally the voice over is done by a person speaking what I think is Chinese (although I’m not sure exactly what variety of Chinese it is – please feel free to confirm or deny in the comment section). 

The trailer is typically crazy, and there are lots of little clips from the film and sound effects. If you’re wondering what’s going on, basically you are being transported into the madcap world of Monty Python, and then you will hear Antony’s voice and you’ll know that you are in the comfortable surroundings of the Film Gold podcast.

Right, so without any further ado, let’s stop my introduction so you can hear another introduction to this introduction to the introduction to the film of Monty Python & The Holy Grail. 

Other Links & Videos

The Camelot Song

Brave Sir Robin complete song

The Holy Grail on Location (BBC Documentary)

Rob Ager’s Holy Grail analysis videos

LEP Episodes with Rob Ager (Film analysis)

Monty Python Live at Drury Lane

Monty Python Live at The Hollywood Bowl

583. British Comedy: The Dirty Fork / Restaurant Sketch (Monty Python)

Analysing the English in a sketch by Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and considering British communication style relating to apologising, making complaints and minimising language.

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Luke rambles about folding seats on public transport, the spring equinox, saying goodbye to winter and the recent posh or not posh episodes.

Here’s another British comedy episode.

We’re going to listen to a comedy sketch by Monty Python.

This time we’re looking at British manners, politeness, communication style and just some madcap comedy too.

Similar episodes in the past have been things like my episode about British communication style (What Brits Say vs What They Mean), What is this British comedy? How to learn English with comedy TV series, and the episodes I’ve done about Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

We’re going to listen to a clip from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and also consider the cultural values behind the sketch, and how that relates to things like making complaints, saying sorry and making requests.

So, cultural stuff and also linguistic stuff too.

Buy the DVD Box Set for Monty Python

Check out the Monty Python YouTube channel where a lot of their content is available free

Intro to the sketch

There’s quite a well-known series of postcards called the How to be British Collection. You might have seen them. They contain little cartoons illustrating life in England from the point of view of learners of English. There are some classic sketches in that collection.

The “How to be British collection” #8 – Being Polite (c) IGP Cards – Buy the books on Amazon here.

One of them is called “Lesson 16 – How to complain”.

It shows a couple in a restaurant, in England we imagine. They don’t look happy with the food. The man says “This meat is as tough as old boots” and the woman says “It tastes off. And these vegetables are cold.” (some nice vocab in there already)

In the next frame the man says “this wine is awful – I asked for dry and they’ve given us sweet.” and she says “and look, there’s a worm in my side salad…”

Ah, a typical English restaurant.

Then the waiter comes over and says “How is your meal? Is everything all right?”

Now, what would you say in that situation? How would you respond? Would you complain? How would you do it?

Well, in the sketch, after the waiter says “Is everything all right?” the man says “Oh yes. It’s all lovely!” and the woman says “Excellent, thank you!”




The point here is that British or English people avoid saying the bad thing, making the complaint, because they’re too polite and don’t like to cause a problem, so they say it’s all fine.

Is this a stereotype of English communication style? Partly. As we’ve seen before.

What would I say?

I would say that the food was no good, especially the part about the worm. Obviously those extreme details are added for comic effect, like a worm in the salad. But if my food was just not up to scratch, would I complain? I probably wouldn’t complain if it was something minor, but a big thing would be an issue, but what’s definitely true is that I don’t like getting into a situation of conflict or confrontation and so I would probably be very reasonable about my complaint. My wife is more direct about these things. She’s French. We often notice a big difference in the way we deal with things like this. She’s much more direct about making a complaint and getting what she feels she is entitled to. For some reason it’s more difficult for me. I don’t like getting into those confrontations. Is this just me, or is this British people in general? I think it’s a bit of both. I’m perhaps not the confrontational kind, but also Brits are like that too, more than other nations, as far as I can tell.

Of course there are plenty of British people who complain vociferously if there’s a problem, a lot of Brits (certainly English people) will avoid an awkward situation if they feel that nothing can be done about it.

Why do people want to avoid confrontation? What’s the worst that could happen?

Let’s find out in this sketch.

The Dirty Fork Sketch

Listen to the sketch – just try to understand what’s going on. It’ll help if you watch the video because there are a couple of visual elements, but if you don’t watch it – just try to work out the details. Essentially, you’ll hear a couple in a French restaurant. They have a problem, and then they are visited at the table by various members of the restaurant staff including the waiter, the head waiter, the manager and finally the chef from the kitchen.

Let’s listen to it and see if you can work out what’s going on. Then I’ll break it down for you so you understand it just like a native speaker.

Bonus: Watch out for the punchline at the end.

A man and woman are in a fancy restaurant. The French waiter is very keen to make their stay satisfying. The man asks for another fork because his is a little bit dirty. The reaction of the waiter is extreme. he apologises profusely. He fetches the head waiter who comes to apologise. He makes over the top apologies. The restaurant manager comes out and his apology is serious and dramatic. Finally the chef comes out. He’s a huge angry man with a meat cleaver. He’s furious with the customers because they made a complaint which has caused so much sorrow to the staff of the restaurant. He shouts revenge as he tries to kill them.

The punchline?
“Lucky I didn’t tell them about the dirty knife!”

The main point is
I think this sketch is making fun of people who keep quiet about little complaints or use language to minimise problems, because they’re scared about making a fuss. This seems to be what they imagine could happen if they point out a problem. This is the worst nightmare of every British person who awkwardly makes a complaint. They’re terrified of making a fuss or causing a scene.

Minimising language

It’s not “I’ve got a dirty fork”, it’s “I’ve got a bit of a dirty fork”.

It’s ridiculous really – either you’ve got a fork or not. You can’t have a bit of a fork. Your fork can be a bit dirty, but it’s a bit silly to say “I’ve got a bit of a dirty fork”. However, this kind of minimising language is very common when people want to make something sound less serious than it is.

E.g. 1 “We’ve got a bit of a dirty table. Could you give it a bit of a wipe for us please?”

E.g. 2 Imagine someone announcing to someone that there’s been an accident, but they’re trying to minimise the seriousness of it because for some reason they’re embarrassed about it or they want to reduce the shock.

“Can I have a bit of a chat with you. Just a bit of a chat. It’s no big deal, it’ll just take a second.

It’s just that we might have had a little bit of a problem downstairs. There’s just sort of been a little bit of an explosion in the kitchen. Just tiny little bang really – more of a pop really, just a tiny little pop – you’d hardly notice it really. I heard it though and thought “Did I imagine that? Did someone just pop a balloon, or fart or something?” and then I picked myself off the ground and had a look downstairs and, yeah, the restaurant is a bit err, it’s a bit scratched and there’s a slight hole in the wall, and in the ceiling and a few puffs of smoke. At first I thought – “oh is that the chef having a cigarette out the back? I thought he’d given up!” But no it wasn’t him – I guess he won’t be smoking again in a hurry! Can you speak to him? Well, he’s a bit tied up at the moment, no he can’t come to the phone he’s… just resting. I think he fainted or just fell over after the thing, the thing that happened in the kitchen, and his head might have fallen off slightly and he might have lost a couple of other limbs in the confusion but anyway, no need to worry too much, it’s basically under control more or less, I just thought you might , want to pop down to the kitchen to have a look and maybe call an ambulance. Yeah, I would but I’ve lost my legs and I’m feeling a bit sleepy so I’m going to have a bit of a lie down, but I thought you might like to know… OK?

So, it’s always “A slight problem” or “A bit of a problem”.

Go through the paragraph again and highlight the minimising language.

Back to the comedy sketch…

This sketch is making fun of our culture I think – the way we are afraid of causing a fuss. Also it makes fun of the over-the-top way that fancy restaurants might apologise for small problems. They’re so keen to welcome and satisfy their customers. The sketch also gets completely carried away, especially when John Cleese’s “Mungo” comes out.

To an extent it’s a little bit pointless analysing Monty Python’s comedy because they make fun of absolutely everything, but I feel that they’re definitely poking fun at stuffy, polite culture.

Why do people minimise negative things? They want it to sound less serious. They don’t want to make someone feel they’re complaining. They want to show that it’s no problem – but why would it be a problem?

If you had a dirty fork you’d just say – “Excuse me, can I have another fork please? This one’s a bit dirty” the waiter is not going to be mortified. He’ll just get you another fork. This sketch represent’s the customer’s worst fear – that there will be a problem or a fuss.

“We don’t want to cause a fuss! Don’t make a scene!”

Now let’s go through the sketch again and understand it in detail.


Lady It’s nice here, isn’t it?
Man Oh, (It’s a) very good restaurant, three stars you know.
Lady Really?
Man Mmm…
Waiter Good evening, sir! Good evening, madam! And may I say what a pleasure it is to see you here again, sir!
Man Oh thank you. Well there you are dear. Have a look there, anything you like. The boeuf en croute is fantastic.
Waiter Oh if I may suggest, sir … the pheasant à la reine, the sauce is one of the chef’s most famous creations.
Man Em… that sounds good. Anyway just have a look… take your time. Oh, er by the way – I’ve got a bit of a dirty fork, could you … er.. get me another one?
Waiter I beg your pardon.
Man Oh it’s nothing … er, I’ve got a fork, (it’s) a little bit dirty. Could you get me another one? Thank you.
Waiter Oh … sir, I do apologize.
Man Oh, no need to apologize, it doesn’t worry me.
Waiter Oh no, no, no, I do apologize. I will fetch the head waiter immediatement. (immediately – in French)
Man Oh, there’s no need to do that!
Waiter Oh, no no… I’m sure the head waiter, he will want to apologize to you himself. I will fetch him at once.
Lady Well, you certainly get good service here.
Man They really look after you… yes.
Head Waiter Excuse me monsieur and madame. (examines the fork) It’s filthy, Gaston … find out who washed this up, and give them their cards immediately.
Man Oh, no, no.
Head Waiter Better still, we can’t afford to take any chances, sack the entire washing-up staff.
Man No, look I don’t want to make any trouble.
Head Waiter Oh, no please, no trouble. It’s quite right that you should point these kind of things out. Gaston, tell the manager what has happened immediately! (The Waiter runs off)
Man Oh, no I don’t want to cause any fuss.
Head Waiter Please, it’s no fuss. I quite simply wish to ensure that nothing interferes with your complete enjoyment of the meal.
Man Oh I’m sure it won’t, it was only a dirty fork.
Head Waiter I know. And I’m sorry, bitterly sorry, but I know that… no apology I can make can alter the fact that in our restaurant you have been given a dirty, filthy, smelly piece of cutlery
Man It wasn’t smelly.
Head Waiter It was smelly, and obscene and disgusting and I hate it, I hate it ,.. nasty, grubby, dirty, mangy, scrubby little fork. Oh … oh . . . oh . . . (runs off in a passion as the manager comes to the table)
Manager Good evening, sir, good evening, madam. I am the manager. I’ve only just heard . .. may I sit down?
Man Yes, of course.
Manager I want to apologize, humbly, deeply, and sincerely about the fork.
Man Oh please, it’s only a tiny bit… I couldn’t see it.
Manager Ah you’re good kind fine people, for saying that, but I can see it.., to me it’s like a mountain, a vast bowl of pus.
Man It’s not as bad as that.
Manager It gets me here. I can’t give you any excuses for it – there are no excuses. I’ve been meaning to spend more time in the restaurant recently, but I haven’t been too well… (emotionally) things aren’t going very well back there. The poor cook’s son has been put away again, and poor old Mrs Dalrymple who does the washing up can hardly move her poor fingers, and then there’s Gilberto’s war wound – but they’re good people, and they’re kind people, and together we were beginning to get over this dark patchthere was light at the end of the tunnel . .. now this . .. now this…
Man Can I get you some water?
Manager (in tears) It’s the end of the road!!
The cook comes in; he is very big and has a meat cleaver.
Cook (shouting) You bastards! You vicious, heartless bastards! Look what you’ve done to him! He’s worked his fingers to the bone to make this place what it is, and you come in with your petty feeble quibbling and you grind him into the dirt, this fine, honourable man, whose boots you are not worthy to kiss. Oh… it makes me mad… mad! (slams cleaver into the table)
The head waiter comes in and tries to restrain him.
Head Waiter Easy, Mungo, easy… Mungo… (clutches his head in agony) the war wound!… the wound… the wound
Manager This is the end! The end! Aaargh!! (stabs himself with the fork)
Cook They’ve destroyed him! He’s dead!! They killed him!!! (goes completely mad)
Head Waiter (trying to restrain him) No Mungo… never kill a customer. (in pain) Oh . .. the wound! The wound! (he and the cook fight furiously and fall over the table)
Man Lucky we didn’t say anything about the dirty knife.
Boos of disgust from off-screen.

202. British Comedy: Monty Python & The Holy Grail

[The Constitutional Peasants Scene] Here’s another episode about Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and in this one we’re going to be covering some very interesting topics, such as medieval history, old myths legends & folklore, the British monarchy, marxism and radical politics. In terms of language we’re going to look at some old fashioned formal poetic language, some political vocabulary and also some intonation and sentence stress, and we’ll be doing all of that while understanding and hopefully enjoying a funny scene from a classic British comedy film. So, you really are getting everything in this episode (well, maybe not everything but you know what I mean). A lot of this is transcribed at teacherluke.co.uk. If you find this episode on the website you’ll also see a video, a script for that video and more information. So let’s get started. Right-click here to download this episode.

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Last time I did an episode about Monty Python we had a look at a sketch from the TV show. There are many more sketches which I hope to come back to in the future, but in this episode I’m going to focus on a scene from their first feature film, which is called “Monty Python & The Holy Grail”.

As a reminder: Do consider purchasing MP DVDs, CDs, audio & video downloads and even tickets to see live a live broadcast of their stage show. Details here: http://www.montypythonlive.com

Please remember – this is not a blog post, but an audio podcast episode. To get the full explanations and detail of this episode, you should listen to the whole podcast episode!

Monty Python & The Holy Grail
When was it made, who directed it, and all that stuff?
In 1975. It was written by all the Monty Python team but was directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones. The two Terries were quite controlling & ambitious and decided they wanted to be in charge of the film, and in fact, during the production I think they agreed that the film could be directed by anyone called ‘Terry’, as an effort to keep control of the film.

What’s it about?
It’s about King Arthur’s search for the Holy Grail. It’s set in the 10th century – the middle ages, or ‘dark ages’, a time of mystery and legend! King Arthur is a legendary King of Britain. The legend of Arthur dates back to the 5th & 6th centuries and the story of Arthur has been told many times since. Historians disagree about whether Arthur really existed or not. In the stories, Arthur is said to be the magical leader who defended Britain against real and supernatural enemies. He carried a magical sword called Excalibur, which was given to him by a mysterious spirit known as The Lady of the Lake. The Lady of the Lake is an important figure in the Arthurian legend – she’s a kind of magical woman who got her powers from the wizard Merlin. She’s a bit like Galadriel in the Lord of the Rings stories. In Arthur’s story, This lady emerges from a lake, holding Excalibur and then presents it to Arthur, and in so doing chooses him as the rightful leader of the Britons. It’s hardly a democratic way to choose the executive commander of Britain, but that’s how things were done back in the 5th century!

The Grail in this story is another aspect of Arthurian legend. Apparently, this grail once carried the blood of Jesus, and was sent by Joseph to Britain where it would be protected. Perhaps this is true, perhaps this is just a myth, but the grail is still a potent symbol in British folklore, either as a connection to Jesus, or as a magical cup which can give magical powers to whoever drinks from it (it’s the same cup in the Indiana Jones movie “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade”)

What happens in the film?
Arthur is sent on a mission by God to find the Holy Grail.
He travels around Britain, visiting castles and collecting a group of knights to help him on his quest.
It’s just an excuse to visit lots of old castles and film a bunch of medieval themed sketches.
Most of it was filmed in Scotland, and the scenery is absolutely beautiful.
It was filmed on a budget of just $400,000, which is tiny in comparison to today’s standards. The Hangover 3, for example, had a budget of $103 million!
The film was financed partly by rock stars Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Elton John.
It’s now considered one of the funniest British comedy films of all time, and in 2005 it was used by Eric Idle as the basis for the Monty Python musical “Spamalot” which you can see in theatres in London and around the world.
There are a few classic sketches in the film, and I’d like to play one of them for you.

“Constitutional Peasants” – King Arthur Has an Argument with Some Left-Wing Peasants
Arthur is travelling the land, trying to recruit knights to join him on his quest. He visits lots of castles. In this scene, he is approaching a castle, and meets some peasants working on the land. The peasants appear to just be collecting mud & filth from the floor in a field. They’re disgusting & dirty, and yet surprisingly articulate in the language of politics (which is part of the joke). King Arthur decides to ask them for information about the owner of the castle. The peasants don’t give him any useful information. Instead he gets into an argument with one of the peasants about the constitution, monarchy, democratic government and the oppression of the masses in an absolute monarchy.

Constitutional Peasants – Video (you’ll find a script below)

What’s So Funny About This?
One of the funny things about this scene is the anachronism (I mean, the fact that different time periods are mixed up). The king is from the medieval period, but the peasants are basically modern working class people. So it mixes up people from different time periods. The scene also mixes two different speech registers and two different political ideologies as the characters represent different political systems, and we see them argue. It’s unexpected because peasants in the middle ages were unaware of Marxist ideology, and certainly wouldn’t have been intelligent or educated enough to criticise the system in such an articulate way. Arthur speaks in a poetic & medieval way, and represents the system of absolute monarchy which was in place at the time. The peasant speaks like a modern left-wing radical using ideas founded by Karl Marx in the 19th century.

It’s also a joke about conventions of movies or stories set in medieval times in which peasants are always presented as old, dirty and inarticulate servants of the king. When these peasants speak like Marxists from the modern era, it’s quite a surprising & amusing shock.

I realise that now I’ve explained this scene, you probably won’t find it that funny, because explaining humour takes all the immediate fun out of it, but so be it. If you get the humour, good for you! The main thing is: We’re learning English aren’t we, so let’s focus on understanding the scene before trying to see the funny side. This scene is very rich in vocabulary, in either a poetic medieval register, or the language of left-wing politics. Listen to it once to see if you understand it all, and then I’ll explain it all to you afterwards. If you find any of it funny, then that’s a bonus as far as I’m concerned. :)

Vocabulary & Explanations
So, in a nutshell, King Arthur wants to know who lives in the castle, and he asks a couple of peasants, but they don’t help him. Instead he gets involved in an irritating argument about the exploitation of the working classes in this medieval monarchy.

There are a few concepts which we need to study in order to fully appreciate this scene. Let’s look at some of those concepts before listening to the scene again. These concepts relate to different constitutional frameworks – I mean, different ways in which a country can be run. We’re talking about political systems like ‘absolute monarchy’, ‘democracy’, ‘Marxism’ and ‘anarchism’.

Absolute Monarchy – in this case a king (monarch) is not elected, but gets their supreme power by divine provenance. This means that the monarch has a special agreement with god. God has chosen the monarch to be the leader of these people. Usually, this is tied to old mythical stories which involve some supernatural intervention in which the king is chosen by god. In the case of King Arthur this was when he was given a holy sword (Excalibur) by a magical & mythical woman called The Lady of the Lake. The story goes that this lady is a kind of supernatural & mythical spirit who holds magical and religious authority. In the story she walks out of a lake and presents Arthur with his magical sword, which signifies that he is the divine ruler of Britain. Most monarchies justify their existence by suggesting they have some kind of special connection to god. In this sketch, Arthur believes he is the rightful ruler of the Britons because of his divine right given by god.

Democracy – in this case, the people give executive power (decision making power) to a representative by voting for him/her. The people give this leader a ‘mandate’ – which means a responsibility to run the country. It’s the government by the people, of the people and for the people. Churchill said that democracy is not perfect, but it’s better than the alternatives. In the UK today we have a democratic monarchy, which is basically a democracy (we vote for MPs in elections) but with a monarch as head of state with almost no executive power. The Queen has very minor powers, and she doesn’t exercise them. It’s like there is an understanding between parliament and the monarchy that the monarch just lets parliament run the country. The monarch doesn’t interfere. That’s the way our country works. Some people are concerned that Prince Charles might decide to exercise his power if/when he becomes king, which could cause a constitutional crisis, but that’s another story for another time.

Marxism – this isn’t really a constitutional system, but an political ideology, or a way of understanding the way in which most industrial/post-industrial capitalist systems work. Karl Marx was a German born philosopher, economist, sociologist and historian who basically stated that the ruling classes manage to maintain control of the system by owning the means of production, and that the working classes are therefore dominated and repressed. The only way in which true equality can exist is if the people own their own land, their own factories and the means of producing goods. His ideas formed the basis of many left-wing political models including communism, and also form the basis of many criticisms of the capitalist system in general. In the UK, we sometimes associate Marxist ideologies with certain types of people. Although their views may be valid, I think most ordinary people find Marxists to be a bit extreme and even boring – banging on about politics and the class system all the time, while not necessarily doing anything about it.

Anarchism – this is the idea that there should be no leaders at all, and in fact no formalised system of government or state at all. Instead, local communities should be run by free and open groups with no leader. The idea is, that formalised governments, or power structures are essentially corrupting – that when power is given to one or several representatives, elected or not, that this ultimately will corrupt them and that this leads to inequality. So, anarchists argue that there should be no system at all, and that people should be free to govern themselves in a completely open way – without adopting any kind of political ideology or dogma. For me, in principle this sounds great, but on a practical level it sounds chaotic, confusing and impractical. Ultimately, it would be great to remove the corrupting power of government, but are we ready for it? We’d need an intelligent and activated population. Education is key. The problem, to an extent, is that many people don’t really care about these issues and instead just find political discussion boring, therefore making it very hard for true anarchy to take effect. A bit like Marxism, many people find anarchists to be either boring, confusing or somehow threatening to normal life.

OK, so we’ve looked at some ideological concepts at the heart of this sketch, but we’re not finished because there’s plenty of language to deal with too. It’s complex isn’t it!? You see – British comedy is intelligent and deep, particularly Monty Python. It’s not just weird.

Here’s some vocabulary that you should know in order to understand this sketch further. Remember that Arthur speaks in old fashioned language, and Dennis the peasant speaks like a modern man with radical political opinions. Listen to the episode to hear all the bold words defined.

What knight lives in that castle over there?
– a knight is (in the Middle Ages) a man who served his sovereign or lord as a mounted soldier in armour. In this context it means a leader.
you automatically treat me like an inferior

exploiting the workers!
– exploiting means to benefit unfairly from the work of (someone), typically by overworking or underpaying them: “women are exploited in the workplace”.

hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society
-dogma = a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true: the dogmas of faith | [ mass noun ] : “the rejection of political dogma”.

Dennis, there’s some lovely filth down here.

I didn’t know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective.
– autonomous = • having the freedom to act independently: “school governors are legally autonomous”.

You’re fooling yourself. We’re living in a dictatorship: a self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes–
– an autocracy = a system of government by one person with absolute power.

Oh, there you go bringing class into it again.

Please! Please, good people. I am in haste. Who lives in that castle?

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,…
Arthur: Yes.
Dennis: …but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly 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 major–
– ratify = sign or give formal consent to (a treaty, contract, or agreement), making it officially valid. “both countries were due to ratify the treaty by the end of the year”.
– a simple majority = this candidate receives more votes than anyone else (but it doesn’t have to be more than 50% of all votes cast) e.g. if Obama, Bush & Clinton are in an election and Clinton gets 40% and Obama & Bush get 30% each, Clinton gets a simple majority. She just gets more votes than the others.
– a two-thirds majority = at least 66% of all the votes
– an absolute majority = at least 51% of all votes

Woman: Well, how 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!
– samite = a rich silk fabric interwoven with gold and silver threads, used for dressmaking and decoration in the Middle Ages.

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.

I mean, if I went round saying I was an emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they’d put me away!

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 hear that? Did you hear that, eh? That’s what I’m on about. Did you see him repressing me? You saw it, didn’t you?

What I love about this is that it’s a well written script, with different types of English and it manages to mock both the idea of a medieval monarchy, and also the irritating verbosity of political radicals. Monty Python are making fun of history & taking the piss out of everyone, while at the same time celebrating the language. Complex language, delivered at speed by colourful characters is at the heart of the humour in this sketch.

Intonation & Sentence Stress
I really enjoy the performances in this scene – particularly Michael Palin who plays Dennis the peasant. The lines are delivered with quite exaggerated and characterful intonation and sentence stress. To highlight this, I’m going to read the script of this scene, just to make it a bit clearer. You could listen to the original version again in order to, hopefully, appreciate it a bit more.

Constitutional Peasants – Script
Arthur: Old woman!
Dennis: Man!
Arthur: Man. Sorry. What knight lives in that castle over there?
Dennis: I’m thirty-seven.
Arthur: I– what?
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 that you automatically treat me like an inferior!
Arthur: Well, I am King!
Dennis: Oh, King, eh, very nice. And how do you get that, eh? By exploiting the workers! By hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society. If there’s ever going to be any progress with the–
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 are 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 were aware of–
Arthur: Please! Please, good people. I am in haste. Who lives in that castle?
Woman: No one lives there.
Arthur: Then who is your lord?
Woman: We don’t have a lord.
Arthur: What?
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,…
Arthur: Yes.
Dennis: …but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly 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 major–
Arthur: Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!
Woman: Order, eh? Who does he think he is? Heh.
Arthur: I am your king!
Woman: Well, I didn’t vote for you.
Arthur: You don’t vote for kings.
Woman: Well, how 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, but 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 round saying 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 hear that? Did you hear that, eh? That’s what I’m on about. Did you see him repressing me? You saw it, didn’t you?

195. British Comedy: Monty Python’s Flying Circus

The series about British Comedy continues with everything you need to know about Monty Python’s Flying Circus and an analysis of The (Dead) Parrot Sketch. Right-click here to download this episode.

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And now for something completely different. It’s…Monty Python’s Flying Circus

This episode is the next in the series about British Comedy. I had to do an episode about Python. They’re such an important, popular and celebrated part of our comedy history. They’re very well rated by lots of people. Some say they’re overrated. I don’t think so. I like almost all of their comedy. They’ve been very influential on popular culture in general, but more specifically on plenty of other comedians and TV shows in the UK and in USA too (e.g. The Simpsons and South Park probably wouldn’t exist without Python). Also, this year they are in the middle of a comeback, putting on stage performances of their greatest material live at the 02 Arena in London. Live performances will be broadcast in cinemas around the world too, so check out their website for more information if you want to see it. Personally, I’d like to see the reunion tour, but I’m quite happy watching their sketches and movies on TV and listening to the records on my mp3 player as I walk around. I’m really happy to share my love of Python with you. Some of you will already be aware of them, some of you won’t. I’ve already played you some of their stuff before, including the Four Yorkshiremen, The Argument Sketch, Swamp Castle and the Silly Election. So I’m sure already pretty familiar with them. Anyway, this episode should be your go-to guide for everything you need to know about Monty Python. You can use it to make sure you are fully clued up about this essential part of modern British culture.

I could go on and on about it for ages, talking about how special their comedy is to me personally (and plenty of other people) but instead I think it’s best to go straight to their comedy and let it speak for itself. I realise that by talking about it a lot, I’m just building it up and then you’ll find it anti-climactic.

So, after I’ve explained a few things about Python, we’re also going to spend some time listening to one of their sketches. I’ll explain things so that you understand it all fully, just like a native speaker – and a native speaker who gets all the jokes. Hopefully this will just be one single episode. I’ll try and keep it brief. In a way this is one of the hardest episodes of LEP I’ve ever done because it’s hard to get across in a simple way the appeal of Monty Python. Also, I can’t choose a sketch. I like them all too much. I also realise that you might not find it funny. Never mind. The main thing is that you learn some things about culture and some language and if you find it funny that’s a bonus. SO DON’T EXPECT TO FIND ANY OF THIS FUNNY, ALRIGHT? NO FUN IN THIS EPISODE!

Everything You Need To Know about Monty Python’s Flying Circus (and perhaps some things you don’t really need to know)
Remember, this is not a blog post, it’s just some text which accompanies this audio episode. So, to get the full information you should listen to the podcast.
Who are they?
Why are they called “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”
Where did they come from?
What did they do?
What was so special about it? Why do people like it so much?
The wild, crazy & anarchic approach.
The postmodern approach – breaking all the rules.
The performances.
The writing.
The originality (although this kind of thing had been started by The Goon Show, Spike Milligan & Peter Cook)
The animations.
The level of intelligence, combined with the readiness to be completely stupid too.
What effect has their work had on culture in general?
Is their comedy still funny or relevant today?
What does their comedy tell us about the British sense of humour?
What are some of the most famous Monty Python moments?

Let’s listen to some sketches by Python. Below is a list of some of my favourite sketches by Monty Python. You can see most of them on their YouTube channel . I strongly suggest you buy their work too. Here’s a list on Amazon of pretty much everything you can purchase by Monty Python’s Flying Circus. My favourites are the movies “Monty Python & The Holy Grail”, “Life of Brian”, “Live at the Hollywood Bowl” and the audio recording of “Live at Drury Lane”. Don’t bother with the TV show unless you’re a hardcore fan. You could just get “The Best of Monty Python’s Flying Circus” if you want to see some of their sketches. Otherwise, just check out videos from their YouTube channel here.

I will probably come back to Python sketches in the future because there’s no way I can cover everything in this episode. I’ll be lucky to get through more than 2 sketches to be honest.


The Parrot Sketch
I can’t really explain why this is ‘funny’ – in fact many people agree that it isn’t their funniest sketch, but it’s definitely the most famous one. Most people know some lines from it. Some people know every line and can recite the entire sketch from memory. Thatcher quoted it in a speech once. Let’s listen and find out what all the fuss is about.

Script for the Parrot Sketch
John Cleese
Michael Palin
The sketch:

A customer enters a pet shop.

Mr. Praline: ‘Ello, I wish to register a complaint.

(The owner does not respond.)

Mr. Praline: ‘Ello, Miss?

Owner: What do you mean “miss”?

Mr. Praline: (pause)I’m sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!

Owner: We’re closin’ for lunch.

Mr. Praline: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this parrot what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.

Owner: Oh yes, the, uh, the Norwegian Blue…What’s,uh…What’s wrong with it?

Mr. Praline: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, my lad. ‘E’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with it!

Owner: No, no, ‘e’s uh,…he’s resting.

Mr. Praline: Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.

Owner: No no he’s not dead, he’s, he’s restin’! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn’it, ay? Beautiful plumage!

Mr. Praline: The plumage don’t enter into it. It’s stone dead.

Owner: Nononono, no, no! ‘E’s resting!

Mr. Praline: All right then, if he’s restin’, I’ll wake him up! (shouting at the cage) ‘Ello, Mister Polly Parrot! I’ve got a lovely fresh cuttle fish for you if you show…

(owner hits the cage)

Owner: There, he moved!

Mr. Praline: No, he didn’t, that was you hitting the cage!

Owner: I never!!

Mr. Praline: Yes, you did!

Owner: I never, never did anything…

Mr. Praline: (yelling and hitting the cage repeatedly) ‘ELLO POLLY!!!!! Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o’clock alarm call!

(Takes parrot out of the cage and thumps its head on the counter. Throws it up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor.)

Mr. Praline: Now that’s what I call a dead parrot.

Owner: No, no…..No, ‘e’s stunned!

Mr. Praline: STUNNED?!?

Owner: Yeah! You stunned him, just as he was wakin’ up! Norwegian Blues stun easily, major.

Mr. Praline: Um…now look…now look, mate, I’ve definitely ‘ad enough of this. That parrot is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not ‘alf an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein’ tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.

Owner: Well, he’s…he’s, ah…probably pining for the fjords.

Mr. Praline: PININ’ for the FJORDS?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment I got ‘im home?

Owner: The Norwegian Blue prefers keepin’ on it’s back! Remarkable bird, id’nit, squire? Lovely plumage!

Mr. Praline: Look, I took the liberty of examining that parrot when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there.


Owner: Well, o’course it was nailed there! If I hadn’t nailed that bird down, it would have nuzzled up to those bars, bent ’em apart with its beak, and VOOM! Feeweeweewee!

Mr. Praline: “VOOM”?!? Mate, this bird wouldn’t “voom” if you put four million volts through it! ‘E’s bleedin’ demised!

Owner: No no! ‘E’s pining!

Mr. Praline: ‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!


Owner: Well, I’d better replace it, then. (he takes a quick peek behind the counter) Sorry squire, I’ve had a look ’round the back of the shop, and uh, we’re right out of parrots.

Mr. Praline: I see. I see, I get the picture.

Owner: (pause) I got a slug.


Mr. Praline: Pray, does it talk?

Owner: Nnnnot really.


Owner: N-no, I guess not. (gets ashamed, looks at his feet)

Mr. Praline: Well.


Owner: (quietly) D’you…. d’you want to come back to my place?

Mr. Praline: (looks around) Yeah, all right, sure.

Alternate ending:

Mr. Praline: (sweet as sugar) Pray, does it talk?

Owner: Nnnnot really.


The Dead Parrot Sketch (The Studio Version)

The Dead Parrot Sketch (Live version – funnier)

The Pythons Talk about The Dead Parrot Sketch

Margaret Thatcher does The Dead Parrot Sketch

Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones talks about the Python reunion, saying they are… “a bunch of wrinkly old men trying to relive their youth. The best one died years ago. Maybe back in the 70s it was fantastic! But, you know, we’ve seen it all before!” Of course he is making fun of himself (the same things are true about the Stones) and yet also showing his respect for Monty Python. At the end of this sketch Mick agrees to perform The Dead Parrot Sketch in the next Rolling Stones concert.

Other Sketches That I like
Spam (This is the origin of the word spam on the internet. It’s completely farcical)
Witch Burning
The Peasants
What have the Romans ever done for us?
The Funniest Joke in the World
The Communists Quiz
The Philosopher’s Football Match
The Spanish Inquisition
The Ministry of Silly Walks
The songs!
The Lumberjack Song, The Philosopher Song, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.
The Dirty Fork (The Restaurant Sketch)
Nudge Nudge Wink Wink
+ many more…

Terry Gilliam’s Animations

Famous American Comedians Talk About Why They Love Monty Python

Why do people like Monty Python so much? (Comments from YAHOO ANSWERS)
ORIGINAL QUESTION: Hysteria98: Why do people find Monty Python funny? The only reason I can think of why, is that its so ridiculous.
Best AnswerVoter’s Choice
It’s ridiculously funny and funnily ridiculous. It’s genius.
you have to look at it in the context of the time it was on TV for the first time- in the late 60s and early 70s nothing like it had ever been seen before- the sheer randomness was exciting as you never knew what was going to happen next. Remember there were only 2 TV channels in the UK back then, so Monty Python was hysterically fun and funny

Black Star Deceiver answered 4 years ago
Oh it’s unpredictable, so simple and yet sheer genius. The guys are legends.
Long Live the comedy of Monty Python!

Mike answered 4 years ago
Monty python has not dated at all, it was funny then and funny now, ridiculous situations are funny no matter what decade, for instance the guy who wrote the worlds funniest joke, it was so funny he died laughing at it, so the army used the joke and translated it to german to shout at the enemy, instead of shooting at them !

Alice answered 4 years ago
I can understand your question perfectly.
Its probably a generational thing.
I’ve noticed a lot of older friends of mine really love it but i just dont get where the “Funny” is…
It doesn’t even make me smile. I like comedy that examines people, their personalities and situations that they get into.

Alan Partridge
Father Ted
Peep Show

kaznaid answered 4 years ago
Sadly, I remember MP when it was first broadcast on BBC 1 in 1969. Actually, I didn’t find it very funny but I was only 12 years old.

I only started to laugh after I watched Life of Brian and Holy Grail. Some of it is very silly but, last week, I saw the Upper Class Twit Olympics on the BBC’s celebration of the programme, and I laughed so much I cried!!

So, it just shows that it obviously does not date … and it can grow on you although it did take 40 years!!!

Intrinsic Random Event answered 4 years ago
They are the Dali of comedy

legs answered 4 years ago
It was very much of its time – groundbreaking – much loved by many of my generation. I was studying for GCEs & my English teacher was a great fan as were most of his pupils. It was a must see for many of us after all we only had BBC1 & ITV, then BBC2 came along but not the multi-channel choice now available. I still laugh at the sketches & the films. I have a weird sense of humour maybe that explains why I like it!

Lexx answered 4 years ago
off the wall humour that pushes the boundaries with out resorting to sex and profanity ( well most of the time)
They pushed the limits of comedy which now has become the norm – but MP lead the way for many comedians that are amazing
Long live the Python!!

Rebecca answered 4 years ago
Because it is ridiculous. You have 2 types of people, those that find it funny because it is silly and those who cannot get past the silly to see the humor.
For example the attack rabbit “what is he going to do, nibble my bum?”

Mae answered 4 years ago
That’s the reason it’s so funny, it’s just insanely ridiculous. That kind of funny that makes your stomach hurt you’re laughing so much.

itsjustme answered 4 years ago
It was the late 60’s early 70’s and they were pushing the edge back then,therefor it was very funny.This is a funny scene and a catchy tune too.

Sniper answered 4 years ago
I didn’t think people found it funny at all o_O

MrMunchy420 answered 4 years ago
Because its just brilliant in general.
Ridiculous does have a lot to do with it :P

Abolyss answered 4 years ago
that is exactly why.

Its so ridiculous its funny.
Huh? It is funny!! And it’s so random.

knownout answered 4 years ago
I don’t . Its just stupidity

The Script for the Introduction to This Podcast (Which I didn’t use – because it’s too similar to the opening of Monty Python Live at Drury Lane, and I don’t want to steal their jokes!)
Radio voice… Welcome ladies and gentlemen to this special Royal Gala edition of Luke’s English Podcast. You join us here at the Royal Albert Hall, where this podcast is being recorded with a star studded audience, including her Royal Highness The Queen.
Among the other members of this celebrity audience, we can see… err… what’s his name… umm, that guy with the glasses on TV… also in the audience this evening, um, that woman, you know, the one in the TV commercials about that thing… just arriving now, it’s… um, you know that famous guy who is always in the newspapers…
And the atmosphere here at the Albert hall, with a royal audience, is electric, as the audience finally takes their seats to witness the recording of this extra special episode on British comedy legends, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Unfortunately, none of the original pythons are present this evening, for legal reasons, but their spirit is very much with us… unless someone has just farted… Yes I think that’s it actually. And the lights now dim in the auditorium as Mr Luke Thompson of Solihull, takes the stage to begin the recording of this Royal podcast episode.
Good evening (cheering)
And I would especially like to welcome Her Royal Highness, it is indeed a great pleasure to have you here this evening. How’s it going? Sorry, I can’t hear you… I SAID HOW’S IT GOING LIZ??? Oh sorry…
Anyway, we are here today in order to pay tribute to the work of the comedy group known as Monty Python’s Flying Circus. (disappointment)
You did know that didn’t you?
You didn’t?
Wait, don’t leave… it’s interesting, I promise!
Your majesty!
Everybody, this is going to be a really good podcast! Wait!
(Voice over) and as everybody leaves the auditorium, Luke has no choice but to continue the recording for our benefit…

Monty Python Live at Drury Lane


10. Extra Podcast – Quick Hello 2

Just a quick “hello” from me and a chance to practise your listening skills with a funny comedy sketch. Full transcript available below.

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Full transcript to this episode
10 Extra Podcast – Quick Hello 2

You are listening to Luke’s English podcast. For more information visit teacherLuke.podomatic.com.

Hello, you are listening to Luke’s English podcast. This is not a full episode today.

This is just a quick message to say “hello” to everyone and to let you know that I am going on holiday for about five days. I am going to Spain, Alicante in the South of Spain to go rock climbing with some friends. So, I’ll be on holiday for a few days which means that I won’t be uploading another full podcast for about another week. I’ve got one prepared. It’s half finished but it’s not ready to be uploaded onto the internet, yet. So I’ll load that up when I get back from my holiday. It was my birthday yesterday and I had a little celebration down next to the river in a pub which is close to my house and some of my friends came and joined me and we had a few drinks and stuff and that was really great fun. I am on holiday from work for two weeks, now. So five or so of these days we’ll spend in Spain rock climbing. I’m looking forward to it very much. It’s gonna be great.
So this podcast is just a little extra message, just to kind of let you know that a new full podcast will be uploaded soon. So don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about everyone and I haven’t forgotten to upload one. It’s just that I am busy having fun on holiday. Now I thought that just to give you something to listen to and to enjoy and to study while you wait for the next podcast, I would play you a little comedy clip. The comedy clip that I am gonna play you is by a comedy group from the UK called: Monty Python’s Flying Circus. – Now you might have heard of them. Let’s see – probably the most famous member of the group is John Cleese. And John Cleese is an actor who – he was in some James Bond movies as Q, the guy who gives James Bond all these machines and weapons and things and he is also in a very successful comedy called Fawlty Towers which is probably the most famous thing he’s ever done. But Monty Python’s Flying Circus was a group of comedians who came out of Oxford and Cambridge universities joined together to make one of the best and one of the most influential comedy programmes on television here in the UK. Everyone knows Monty Python and everyone loves them here and they are very, very popular. So I am going to play you a little comedy scene that they did. They performed it live at the Drury Lane theatre and I think 1974 – the title of this sketch is called The Four Yorkshire Men. Now a Yorkshire man is just a man who comes from Yorkshire.
Yorkshire is an area in the north of England, okay?
And basically the kind of comedy or the funny part of this sketch is….well, the fact that these four Yorkshire men basically are sitting together – if you can imagine – they are sitting together, drinking some very expensive wine because now, they are rich. They are old and rich, now. But they didn’t use to be rich. When they were children, and when they were growing up, they all had very, very difficult lives and they all were working-class-men who had to work very, very hard in a difficult life in order to get rich.
So, one of the things about this is that, when old men like that get together, they always talk about how hard their lives were in the past and how it’s really easy for young people, nowadays. And typically men like that will say things like, you know: The kids today don’t know they are born. Life is much easier for them than it was for us. They just don’t know, they are born. Or for example if they told a younger person how difficult their lives were, they might say things like: You tell the kids of today that and they won’t believe you, right? So it’s kind of typical things that old men say when they’re complaining about how their lives were very hard in the past and how young people’s lives now were easy in comparison.
And the conversation that they have is, they talk about how, when they were younger in their lives were so hard and they describe the difficult conditions that they had to live in when they were growing up.
But as they all talk about it, it becomes like a competition because they all have to describe a much harder life. So, if one says that he had to….for example, you know …when he drank tea..because they had no electricity he had to drink cold tea. And the other one would say: You were lucky, cold tea, you were lucky. We used to have to drink old water out of a rolled up newspaper.
So, they were kind of trying to explain they had much harder lives. And it is like a competition. Anyway, I think it’s very funny and you can listen to it here on the webpage. I’ll post a script of the sketch, so you can read that and understand it and hopefully enjoy it. And I will upload another podcast for you very soon and you can look forward to that.
So, thank you very much and I will speak to you again, soon.
Thank you!
Bye, bye, bye, bye!

Monty Python’s Flying Circus – The Four Yorkshiremen – Live at Drury Lane 1974 (buy the CD here)

Aye, very passable, that, very passable bit of risotto.
Nothing like a good glass of Château de Chasselas, eh, Josiah?
You’re right there, Obadiah.
Who’d have thought thirty year ago we’d all be sittin’ here drinking Château de Chasselas, eh?
In them days we was glad to have the price of a cup o’ tea.
A cup o’ cold tea.
Without milk or sugar.
Or tea.
In a cracked cup, and all.
Oh, we never had a cup. We used to have to drink out of a rolled up newspaper.
The best we could manage was to suck on a piece of damp cloth.
But you know, we were happy in those days, though we were poor.
Because we were poor. My old Dad used to say to me, “Money doesn’t buy you happiness, son”.
Aye, he was right.
Aye, he was.
I was happier then and I had nothin’. We used to live in this tiny old house with great big holes in the roof.
House! You were lucky to live in a house! We used to live in one room, all twenty-six of us, no furniture, half the floor was missing, and we were all huddled together in one corner for fear of falling.
Eh, you were lucky to have a room! We used to have to live in the corridor!
Oh, we used to dream of livin’ in a corridor! Would have been a palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish tip. We got woke up every morning by having a load of rotting fish dumped all over us! House? Huh.
Well, when I say ‘house’ it was only a hole in the ground covered by a sheet of tarpaulin, but it was a house to us.
We were evicted from our hole in the ground; we had to go and live in a lake.
You were lucky to have a lake! There were a hundred and fifty of us living in a shoebox in the middle of road.
Cardboard box?
You were lucky. We lived for three months in a paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to get up at six in the morning, clean the paper bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down the mill, fourteen hours a day, week-in week-out, for sixpence a week, and when we got home our Dad would thrash us to sleep with his belt.
Luxury. We used to have to get out of the lake at six o’clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of hot gravel, work twenty hour day at mill for tuppence (two pence) a month, come home, and Dad would thrash us to sleep with a broken bottle, if we were lucky!
Well, of course, we had it tough. We used to have to get up out of shoebox at twelve o’clock at night and lick road clean with tongue. We had two bits of cold gravel, worked twenty-four hours a day at mill for sixpence every four years, and when we got home our Dad would slice us in two with bread knife.
Right. I had to get up in the morning at ten o’clock at night half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad and our mother would kill us and dance about on our graves singing Hallelujah.
And you try and tell the young people of today that ….. they won’t believe you.
They won’t!

Okay, I hope you understood that. I am sure that they will be things that you didn’t understand and in that case, you should go to the webpage. You can read a script of everything they are saying and if there are words that you don’t understand, you can check those words in the dictionary and that will help you. Another thing about that sketch is .because they are all Yorkshire men, they are speaking in a Yorkshire accent. So, you know all sorts of speaking are a bit like this.

In those days we were happy even though we were poor
So, that’s the sort of typical Yorkshire accent, I suppose.
If you are actually listening to this and you are from Yorkshire, I apologize if my Yorkshire accent wasn’t very good.
So, anyway, right! So, check the webpage. You can read this script there and it’ll help you to understand it. That’s the end of this short podcast and I will speak to you again soon.
Take care! Bye, bye, bye, bye