There was a time when I was really taken with Monty Python.
It’s witty, but it’s hardly dry. There was too much absurdity for it to be inaccessible. Even if you didn’t know who those people were, the general tenor of the situation isn’t lost on you. Philosophers milling around on a soccer pitch scratching their chins instead of playing is plain funny. If you’re a bookworm, you got all the little asides Michael Palin is slinging in rat-a-tat announcer-speak, and that elevated it from fat woman and a banana peel humor. It’s kind of glorious.
When I got older, I realized how easy it is to attack the status quo if the status won’t defend itself. Finding fault with the quo is easy. Ridicule isn’t particularly difficult. Nelson the thug on the Simpsons just points and laughs. He offers nothing but derision. That’s the whole joke with him.
Really witty derision is like putting termites into a foundation when everyone’s asleep. You can derive a kind of evil glee from it, but it’s not really constructive. The Pythons sensed that the society that they were born into was weakened, and they could attack it at will without repercussion. Hell, everyone they made fun of gave them an award for doing so.
John Cleese was always my favorite Python. That’s trite, maybe, because he’s like Curly in the Three Stooges — an obvious choice. He now seems to be seeking some form of affirmation, some kind of security and peace that the forces he so desperately wanted to unleash when he younger have made impossible.
‘I’m not sure what’s going on in Britain. Or, let me say this – I don’t know what’s going on in London, because London is no longer an English city.
‘That’s how we got the Olympics.
‘They said we were the most cosmopolitan city on Earth. But it doesn’t feel English.
‘I had a Californian friend come over two months ago, walk down the King’s Road and say, “Where are all the English people?”
‘I mean, I love having different cultures around. But when the parent culture kind of dissipates, you’re left thinking, “Well, what’s going on?”‘
So the termite wrangler is wondering how he ended up with a house on his head, because he forgot where he put them.
He moved to California. You know, they say pathos is an important element of sophisticated humor, but I’m not in the mood for the kind of effort that requires, so I’ll just notice a seventy-five-year-old man in California with three brands of alimony, still trying to hold a girl on his shoulders at a Bon Jovi concert, and point and say: HA! HA!