Anecdota

Laughter is the Best Medicine

How Monty Python Shaped Modern Comedy (feat. Rick and Morty & Deadpool) – Wisecrack Edition


Hey Wisecrack, Jared again. Like everyone
else, sometimes I just need to laugh the pain away. Sometimes the crushing anxiety of existence
may feel like too much; but, hey, that’s why I have a dog. It helps. We at Wisecrack
love us some M.P. These wily Brits redefined comedy in the 1970s — and are still hugely
influential today. Just look at comedies today – South Park, Rick and Morty or even Deadpool.
All hilarious in their own unique ways; but, without Monty Python, they probably wouldn’t
even exist. Monty Python paved the way for comedy as we know it, combining absurdity,
satire and postmodern-reflexivity into some of the most influential and quoted comedies
ever. So because there’s nothing funnier than explaining a joke to death — Welcome
to a Wisecrack Edition on the Legacy of Monty Python. Like a hipster in a gluten-free juice
bar, postmodernism is everywhere these days. Jurassic World, Star Wars, Family Guy, pretty
much anything that you can think of. These films and TV shows constantly refer back on
themselves, commenting on the narrative conventions and iconography of their predecessors… “It’s
another Death Star.” “I wish that were the case, Major. This was
the Death Star. This is Starkiller Base.” …Or just copying them wholesale. But nothing encapsulates this movement more
than Deadpool. Heck — we even did an entire ‘Philosophy Of’ on this exact subject.
Everyone loves Deadpool because, quite simply, he doesn’t give a f***. He’s rebelliously
self-aware, repeatedly winking at his own narrative and mocking the superhero genre.
“Okay, let’s pro/con this Superhero thing…” This constant self-reflexivity encapsulates
Postmodernism, first coined by the French philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard in 1979.
For Lyotard — all stories previously fit into oft-told grand mythologies. Great heroes
on a voyage for some grandiose goal. Or as he referred to them — metanarratives. Per
Lyotard – these metanarratives were stories that provided a pattern and structure for
people’s beliefs, teaching viewers a universal insight. Think of The Wizard of Oz — and
how, stripped of the flying monkeys and melting witches, it’s actually just a story about
a girl realizing, well… Or even The Fast and The Furious — underneath
all the ludicrous car stunts, there’s a deeper meta-narrative about the importance
of family. Through these stories — morals & social customs are taught and reinforced.
But postmodernism subverts these grand narratives, revealing the chaos and disorder beneath.
Like, say, Deadpool, a comic-book character who constantly tears down everything that
comic books stand for. But as edgy as Deadpool may seem, he AIN’T GOT S*** on the Pythons
— who took postmodern deconstruction to a whole other level. Case in point: their all-time
classic — Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Whereas Deadpool lampoons only the comic book
metanarrative, Monty Python and the Holy Grail is DEFINED by breaking down multiple metanarratives.
Among them: Arthurian chivalry, Christianity, logic and the very film medium itself. The
first of these metanarratives, Arthurian Chivalry, first evolved in the Late Middle Ages, idealizing
knights as honourable and self sacrificing. You know — the usual knightly s*** like protecting
the weak, showing mercy to enemies, never lying and championing justice and truth. But
Monty Python and the Holy Grail completely dismantles and mocks these time-tested tenets.
“Who’s that, then?” “Must be a king.” “Why?” “‘cuz he hasn’t got s*** all over him.” When Sir Robin encounters a three-headed giant,
his minstrels sing the heroic narrative everyone expects —
but Robin himself runs the hell away as quickly as possible. “Brave sir Robin Ran Away.” “No!”
“Bravely ran away away…” and so on. Similarly — in the Arthurian Legend, Arthur’s arrival
at Camelot is usually treated as an emotional high-point in his story… Yet Monty Python
undercuts the seriousness of the moment, turning this hallmark event into a goofy musical number.
And then to top it off — Arthur decides not to even bother going to Camelot. Each of our
supposed ‘great heroes’ are revealed to be far less than they claim. The power-hungry
Arthur demands that every peasant acknowledge him as their king; but if they dare question
his rule, he immediately attacks them. “What I object to is you automatically treating
me like an inferior.” “Well, I *am* King…” Sir Galahad the Pure, the most ‘faithful’
of knights, is seduced in less than four minutes by a “company of a hundred-and-sixty lonely
women”. And when Lancelot receives a note from a distressed maiden, he rushes to rescue
her; but in the process, murders dozens of unarmed people. Then, in the end, it turns
out — there wasn’t even a maiden to save in the first place. Monty Python uses postmodernism
to illustrate how the stories people tell themselves enablesome awful s***; Lancelot
and Arthur’s own metanarratives justifying their violent and oppressive acts. The fact
that these metanarratives aren’t even true to begin with is just the icing on the cake
– as our knightly heroes are revealed to be cowards, hypocrites, and violent sociopaths.
“I just get carried away…” Even God is put into doubt. Per the Christianity
metanarrative, God is good and all powerful and has a plan for humanity. Yet in Monty
Python and the Holy Grail, God isn’t great and kind at all. He’s just a cranky dick,
who’s really crappily animated. Philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin defined this as the ‘downward-swing’
– which I swear isn’t a baseball term. Per Bakhtin — most stories are upward swing(s)
— in that they “elevate a story to a symbolic state, [and make] them universal.” On the
contrary, in a downward swing – the classical story becomes so distorted and grotesque that
you don’t even know whether to scream, cry or laugh. And it’s not just the story that
becomes distorted; but also we, the readers and viewers, ourselves. Every lesson we learned
through the metanarrative is now cast into doubt right alongside it. Take one of the
most famous scenes in The Holy Grail — the witch trial. Sir Bedevere the Wise puts a
poor woman through a ‘foolproof’ logic test in order to determine if she’s a witch.
Per Bedevere – witches burn at the stake just like wood and wood floats on water just like
a duck. So if the woman is a witch — she will weigh the same as a duck. Monty Python
here takes formal logic and distorts it into a grotesque version of itself, in effect casting
doubt our own fundamental faith in logic. If classical logic can be distorted into justifying
a woman’s death, then how can it be truly trusted at all? By the end of The Holy Grail
— this distortion extends to the very film itself. As Arthur prepares for an epic battle
with the French at the Castle Aaargh, modern day police suddenly arrive and arrest the
king for murder. The police then push and cover the camera lens, breaking the fourth
wall — making the audience cognizant of the fact they’re watching a movie. The Holy
Grail constantly pokes fun at itself as a ‘movie’. For instance – the film’s title
credits are undermined when Swedish subtitles suddenly appear, promoting the country as
a terrific vacation spot. The credit-makers are then promptly fired, causing the credit
format to completely change. Throughout the film, Arthur uses coconuts instead of a horse
due to the film’s tight budget. Arthur even refers to one character as — “it’s the old
man from scene 24.” And just to hammer the point home — the knights
defeat the Legendary Black Beast of Arghhh, not through any battle or test of wills; but
because the animator that designed the creature has a heart-attack. This self-reflexivity
reveals The Holy Grail to be its own metanarrative – film just as artificial as the chivalrous
Arthurian heroes within. “Do you think this scene should have been cut? We were so worried
while the boys were writing it… but now we’re glad! It’s better than some of the previous
scenes, I think!” That’s just how postmodern Monty Python and The Holy Grail truly is – it
deconstructs religion & logic within a deconstruction of heroic tropes within a deconstruction of
the film medium itself. Basically — the ‘Inception’ of postmodern film. There’s probably no
show as popular on the inter-webs as Rick and Morty. I mean — Wisecrack’s really
just a domain switch away from becoming a Rick and Morty Fan Club. And that’s because
the show always ties its absurd humor with thought-provoking insight — like, well, on
the meaninglessness of life. “Yes! I did it! There is no God! In your face!” Take the ‘Get
Schwifty’ episode. When massive heads suddenly appear all across the planet, many people
begin to worship the heads as Gods, starting up a cult and even sacrificing people to appease
them. Of course, in reality, these heads aren’t actually Gods at all; but an alien race that
just wants Earth to participate in an American Idol-like reality show. This type of humor is known as “The Comedy
of the Absurd”. This existential-based comedy focused on the fallout when confronted with
a world devoid of meaning. However instead of wallowing in some murky woe-is-me despair,
the absurd takes the opposite approach – pointing out the broad humor in our own tragic insignificance.
This tragic absurdity is foundational to Monty Python’s brand of comedy. In their third
feature, The Life of Brian, poor Brian’s entire existence is one big absurd misunderstanding.
The humble peasant is born in the stable next to Jesus, confusing the Three Wise Men – who
assume the not-special-at-all Brian to be the Messiah. The projection of significance
on the insignificant is a hallmark of existential thought — in particular our boy Albert Camus,
whod rejected this desperate search for meaning,and instead embraced, the, you guessed it, “The
Absurd”. When Brian runs away from his disciples, they mistakenly believe he’s risen to heaven.
And later when Brian loses a sandal, these same disciples proclaim the sandal his sign.
“The shoe is a sign! Let us follow his example!” “What?” “Let us like him hold up one shoe
and let the other be upon our foot for this is his sign that all who follow him shall
do likewise!” Of course — Brian didn’t mean for the sandal
to be anything more than footwear; and yet people — in their desire for meaning — attribute
significance to even the silliest of objects. We see this exact same misappropriation of
meaning in Get Schwifty as Principal Vagina and the rest of his cult mistake the Alien
Heads as Gods, when in reality they’re only Reality TV show junkies. Comedies of the absurd
draw their humor from this discrepancy, between what is and what isn’t, between what’s
true and what people believe to be true. Characters in these absurd comedies are often are caught
in hopeless situations, forced into repetitive and ultimately fruitless actions. Like Brian
who constantly tries to tell his disciples he’s not the Messiah to little avail. “Only
the true Messiah denies his divinity.” No matter what Brian does, his disciples grow
in number and become ever more fervent, all leading to a horrific and tragic conclusion:
crucifixion. Yet despite his impending doom, Brian’s comforted by his fellow crucifixion
buddies, who break out into song — The Bright Side of Life. The crucifixion buddies cheerful lament reflects
the Myth of Sisyphus — in which poor Sisyphus is cursed to roll a rock up a mountain only
for it to fall back down over and over again. Existentialist Albert Camus famously applied
the greek myth to life itself, The trick though is not to let this meaninglessness ever get
you down — instead, in the words of Life of Brian, ‘Always look at the bright-side.’
Because when faced with our own insignificance and impending doom, there’s only one real
option, though it may seem completely f***ing absurd, laughter. Nowadays satire has become
more vital than ever whether via late night talk shows like Full Frontal with Samantha
Bee or more traditional half hour comedies like South Park. Hell the last three seasons
of South Park focus heavily on the 2016 election and the Trump presidency. Political satires,
like South Park, derive their humor by revealing the hypocrisy in established rules and orders
— a la the 2016 election and the PC brigade. But way before South Park, Monty Python paved
the way, subverting the established political ideologies of England. In fact – South Park’s
creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone often cite Monty Python as the single biggest influence
on their show. “Matt & I got along so well because we’re both huge Python freaks.” In Monty Python’s final and darkest feature,
The Meaning of Life, the Pythons openly comment on English imperialism, economic disparity,
and the classicist social hierarchies of the country. The opening mini-movie, The Crimson
Permanent Assurance, depicts a group of poor elderly workers forced into a pirate-like
frenzy by young American yuppies. The old workers rebel against these yuppie dicks,
throwing them out windows to their death — and then proceed to destroy every shiny bright
corporate building in their path, bringing down the capitalist system that literally
anchored them to the ground. The Pythons carry this satirical look at capitalism throughout
the film, questioning the economic notion that self-interest results in the greater
good. In fact — we see quite the opposite. In the sketch, the ‘Miracle of Birth’
— the doctors are far more concerned with their fancy equipment and impressing their
administrator than the poor woman they’re operating on. “And get the most expensive
machines, in case the administrator comes.” Later — in the sketch “Live Organ Transplants”,
two bureaucrats forcefully remove the liver from an impoverished man for the good of the
country, remarking nonsensically that they must kill the guy so that they can then take
his liver. Constantly we see people drowning under this system. Britain’s Yorkshire is
ironically referred to as a “Third World Country” — and in the same sketch, a poor
man is forced to sell off his children to science in order to make ends meet. This economic
disparity climaxes in the sketch “The Autumn Years”, where the grotesquely obese and
rich Mr. Creosote dines at a fancy restaurant, eating more and more until he literally explodes.
The implications couldn’t be clearer — the rich get richer and fatter at the expense
of the starving lower class. But it’s not just social injustice that the Pythons skewer
– but the whole notion of British imperialism in general. The hand of God strikes down a
military officer who insists Britain will always need an army to put down differing
ideologies. And in the same sketch, a Sergeant Major drills his platoon on whether they have
anything better to do than “march up and down the town square.” Well — it turns
out they do, like read a book or go to the movies or really anything at all. The Pythons
even state this central thesis at the end of the picture… “Try and be nice to people,
avoid getting fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try
to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.” For The Pythons — British imperialism,is
a threat to the meaning of life. This manifests in their depictions of war – where soldiers
attempting to celebrate a birthday are gunned down one by one – the brutal reality of war,
of supposed imperial conquest, juxtaposed against the simple pleasure of enjoying a
birthday cake. These ideas extend to their sketch show The Flying Circus. The show oft
portrays bureaucrats as buffoons… or as sticks-in-the-mud, constantly censoring the
show itself. “I’m not prepared to pursue my line of inquiry any further as I think this
is getting too silly!” “Quite agree, quite agree. Silly silly silly. Right. Get on with
it. GET ON WITH IT!” As Christopher Hitchens once said — “the essential founding gag
of [Monty Python] is the bubbling magma of absurdity that lay beneath the fragile crust
of British reserve. At any moment, a man with a bowler hat or an umbrella might become a
raging cross-dresser or barking sadist.” It’s this unpredictability, this mixture
between the postmodern, the political and the absurd that makes Monty Python unlike
any comedy troupe that came before or after. “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!” By merging together social commentary, existential
angst and just plain ol’ silliness – The Pythons always kept you on your toes. They
defied convention, concocting a brand of comedy so singular that a word had to be created
just for them — Pythonesque. Today their brand of humor permeates every facet of the
comedic landscape. Thanks for watching, guys. Peace.

100 thoughts on “How Monty Python Shaped Modern Comedy (feat. Rick and Morty & Deadpool) – Wisecrack Edition

  1. Monty Python combined whimsy, sarcasm, irony, absurdity, and dead-pan humor. Everything and the kitchen sink too…
    The best scene being the king vs the peasants: https://youtu.be/t2c-X8HiBng which sums up the absurdity of government in general.

  2. Man, I wish more people could talk about how Monty Python's movies were absolutely genius. The way they shaped modern comedy for shows and movies like deadpool and southpark is really fascinating

  3. "Sir Gallahad, the Pure […] is seduced in less than 4 minutes by a company of 160 lonely women."
    Let's be real here: we all would.

  4. Why do edgy young adults always try to make Monty Python as a valuable showcase of their edgyness and bigotry? Half of your references are dead wrong, man. Get some real sources (like the hundreds of interviews from the actors and writers themselves) instead of vomiting your own axiological interpretation.

  5. Samantha Bea is neither satire nor worth while. Its female Glen Beck nons. Just like the female Alex Jones aka RAchel madcow. #Thereisbeer

  6. "We're Knights of the Round Table, we dance whenever were able. We do routines of chorus scenes, with footwork impeccable. We dine well here in Camelot, we eat ham and jam and spam a lot."

    "We're Knights of the Round Table, our shows are formidable. Many times we're given rhymes, that a quite un-singable. We're opera mad in Camelot, we sing from the diaphragm a lot!"

    "In war we're tough and able. Quite indefatigable. Between our quests, in sequin vests, we impersonate Clark Gable. It's a busy life in Camelot…. I have to push the pram a lot."

    "Second thoughts, let's not go to Camelot. It is a silly place." -King Arthur.

  7. metanarratives aka morals for dipshit postmodernists. Deadpool has a metanarrative, all good stories do (unlike frozen for example) have morals. Deadpool became ugly and he is a narcissist, use your own logic to explain it to yourself from there, im out.

  8. Great topic. How about talking about how "The Goon Show" influenced the members of Monty Python, and most other British comedy that came afterwards?

  9. Sir, this channel will go down in history as an accurate depiction of our own history. 😅🤷🏽‍♂️. What I’m trying to say is, good ffing job man!💯👌🏽

  10. Eventually there'll be nothing but subversion of expectations that nobody will have because all they've known is subversion…

  11. Not the town square, the parade square. Random regiments don't just appear in little villages around Britain to march on any given day

  12. Bedivere's logic WAS sound… because the woman DID weigh the same as a duck… and therefore…IS A WITCH!!!
    "It's a fair Cop…" 😉

  13. PSA! This has nothing to do with Rick and Morty whatsoever, so if that's the clickbait that drew you in, just downvote and move on, friend.

  14. Just in vase you weren't aware, those subtitles at 7:48 are not Swedish. They are gibberish and they use signs that don't even exist in the Swedish alphabet, such as the Danish and Norwegian ø rather than ö

  15. How do I not know anything about Deadpool? Everything Python I know. And please skip the bleeps. Who gives a shit?

  16. Just gonna put this here, the bit were he talks about "The swedish subtitles" they are not swedish, they are eitehr danish or norwegia, the Ø donst occur in swedish we have Ö

  17. I didn’t want to watch this video anyway

    I wanted to be a lumberjack

    Leaping from tree to tree as they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia

    The giant redwood

    The larch

    The fern

    The great Scotts pine

    The crash of mighty timber

    The smell of fresh cut trees

    With my best girly by my side

    We’d sing! sing! sing!

  18. Since some of you seem to be confused, Monty Python were indeed making fun of logic with the witch scene, not post-hoc arguments.

    It's based on a fundamental logical concept: If variable 'A' is equal to variable 'B' and variable 'B' is equal to variable 'C', then 'A=C"

    In other words, if a witch is equivalent to wood, and wood is equivalent to a duck, then a witch is equivalent to a duck.

    Now some of you will point out that a witch's flammability has nothing to do with her weight, or the weight of wood for that matter. To you I would say: "Congrats! You finally got the joke!" The point being that logic isn't quite the paragon of infallibility we claim it is. It is entirely possible to say something completely logical and yet also patently false.

    Arguably, the logic does prove something, namely that the woman is possibly a witch, not *certainly*. After all, it fails to prove that only witches can weigh as much as a duck, it is entirely possible a woman weighs as much as a duck for some other reason. The problem wasn't that their logic was wrong, the problem was that they took the result of the argument as infallible and above reproach.

  19. Monty Phyton and the Holy Grail is genius comedians making fun of everything with zero budget and who were only allowed to film at one castle

  20. The goons were before Monty python.spike Milligan who wrote the goon show is in fact the father off this type of humour.

  21. i think Miguel de Cervantes was the first one to break the 4th wall. in the book, d. quixote literally knows that there's a book about him and also knows someone released a bunch of fake written stories about him.
    so the postmodernism is way older than you think

  22. “And St Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, ‘O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayest blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.’”

  23. Why are we here, what's life all about?

    Is God really real, or is there some doubt?

    Well tonight we're going to sort it all out

    For tonight it's the Meaning of Life

    What's the point of all this hoax?

    Is it the chicken and the egg time, are we just yolks?

    Or perhaps we're just one of God's little jokes

    Well ca c'est the Meaning of Life

    Is life just a game where we make up the rules

    While we're searching for something to say

    Or are we just simple spiraling coils

    Of self-replicating DNA?

    What is life? What is our fate?

    Is there a Heaven and Hell? Do we reincarnate?

    Is mankind evolving or is it too late?

    Well tonight here's the Meaning of Life

    For millions this life is a sad vale of tears

    Sitting round with rien – nothing to say

    While scientists say we're just simply spiraling coils

    Of self-replicating DNA

    So just why, why are we here?

    And just what, what, what, what do we fear?

    Well ce soir, for a change, it will all be made clear

    For this is the Meaning of Life – c'est le sens de la vie –

    This is the Meaning of Life

  24. "What 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' Teaches Us About Filmmaking"
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEBwfjwMdB8

  25. You made it through an entire report on Monty Python without once mentioning the Goon Show? The Pythons were inspired by someone, you know! Geez. Research, man.

  26. I think you are way-overinterpreting the political message. They just make fun of any obnoxious dearly held beliefs and norms. You interpret everything from a very leftist perspective, and thus totally miss the point of Python, like all real postmodernists would do.

  27. Wow you totally lost me at postmodernism, have you ever considered that parody, satire, and comedy, is all about subverting ones expectations? This is not only not unique to the Pythons, but I highly doubt the core of comedy is less than 100 years old…Jesus.

  28. 0:58 – Postmodernism – something I never quite understood the meaning of. So this prompted me to look up the definition. Good luck with that – try it for yourself and you'll soon see what I mean………… Postmodernism, also spelled post-modernism, in Western philosophy, a late 20th-century movement characterized by broad skepticism, subjectivism, or relativism; a general suspicion of reason; and an acute sensitivity to the role of ideology in asserting and maintaining political and economic power.

  29. 7:45 ''when Swedish subtitle apear''. eh no, thats not swedish. i am from sweden and i can confirm that's not swedish. might be Norwegian or Danish, but not swedish.

  30. 160 woman in 4 minutes… 160 times 4 = usually this would take 10.7 hours! (given there is just one woman) which is…. quite alright. 1.5 work days!

  31. OK, you know the Pythons would not exist without the great Spike Milligan and the Goons, a full 15 years before, right? To a man, they all admit that their greatest early influence was Spike. It was he who wrote the actual funniest joke in the world, for instance. ("Hello, police? There's a man lying in my living room. I think he's dead." "Well, can you check on him to be sure? That way we know which emergency service to send." "OK" (footsteps) (two gunshots) (footsteps) "OK, I'm sure. He's dead.")

  32. Unnecessarily intellectualizing and overthinking the simple meaninglessness and absurdity of Monty Python. But isnt that what all post modernist deconstruction does? Reading meanings where there may be none beyond eliciting laughs…. My god, why cant one have a little satire and nonsense without a social justice narrative. Next you are gonna tell me the deeper social criticism behind the Cheese Shop Sketch, or the Ministry of Funny Walks Sketch, or The World's Funniest Joke Sketch! Sorry, cant get behind this overwrought analysis. Before such textual analysis, perhaps you could do a little more research based on the Python members interviews. And perhaps there you would find, that all they wanted to do was have fun. Sometimes, little or no philosophizing is better than any. Ask the Pythons, in their homage to navel gazing in the Philosopher's Sketch.

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