THE PYTHON TOUCH PRE-PYTHON
Where did the distinctive humor of Monty Python have its origins? Watch the above British television show from 1964 and I think we'll have answered that urgent question. The show, "Take It Or Leave It" defines English twittiness with its very premise--a quote is read and the guests have to decode who the author is. But this is really just an excuse to launch a discussion (or argument really) between the prissy and competitive participants, all eager to snootily one-up the other. Did people really watch this show? Present amidst the panelists is Anthony Burgess, not yet famous as the author of "A Clockwork Orange" but clearly eager for the exposure. In the never made Python sketch version of this, I cast John Cleese in the Burgess role. Clearly this is the sort of show the then adolescent Python cast members were watching and later, upon meeting each other, would send them into hysterics in their Cambridge rooms, thus giving birth to England's greatest contribution to the comedy corpus. Or did they meet at Oxford?
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Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 3:20 PM