Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The Full Monty
As part of what it called a “Python-A-Thon” the IFC cable channel recently aired a documentary conveying a few too many details about the British comedy show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” a mere 45 episodes of which are still providing endless hilarity on television 40 years after they were made.
Among the revelations was the origin of the show’s name. As explained by Pythons John Cleese and Eric Idle, it came about accidentally. While under development at the BBC, its bizarre wackiness caused it to become known, disparagingly, by staff members as the “flying circus” of its producer, John Howard Davies. Some wag put the name “Flying Circus” in the BBC schedule, and higher-ups didn’t want to change it since it was already in print. Idle came up with the idea of later adding a name in front of it, and he took “Monty” from a denizen of a pub he frequented, while Cleese suggested “Python” as a slippery surname connoting a reptilian entertainment agent.
Cleese’s name, by the way, is not accidental; his father purposely changed it from the original Cheese, with which it rhymes. Tall person, silly walker, and fellow blogger Cleese, in fact, signs his blogs (at cleeseblog.com) as “Jack Cheese.” This clerihew by the Bard of Buffalo Bayou may strike you (even more than his usual output) as a bit cheesy:
Is really the Big Cheese.
Cheddar, Cheshire, Stilton, Double Gloucester, Leicester—
Any one will do for this Courtly Jeicester.