And Now For Something Completely Different

I love Monty Python's Flying Circus. I've loved them for a great long while.

How did I discover Monty Python?

Well . . . let me tell you.

Growing up, there was always a lot to do. My mother was an at-home Day Care Provider. This meant that the house was always filled with kids. It also meant that we had us a decent sized toy room in the basement.

What does this have to do with Monty Python? Settle down. That’ll become clear in the next couple of paragraphs.

See, on the weekends, when there we no other kids around, I tried to spend a lot of time in that toy room in the basement. I played with Legos, or Star Wars and tried to use that time to just be by myself.

One weekend however, a weekend like no other, I never made it down into that basement to play.

Well, actually I did eventually make it down to the basement, I was just delayed for an hour or so. Delayed by a group of silly men from England who called themselves Monty Python.

The weekend on which out little tale begins I was around the age of nine or ten. I was walking through our living room, which one had to do if one was going down into the basement, and I saw my father sitting there on the couch watching himself a little TV.

Actually the TV wasn’t really all that little. It wasn’t huge either, but that’s really not the point.

It wasn’t all that odd to see my father watching TV on a weekend. I’d usually find him there, if he wasn’t out doing yard work or jogging, on a lazy Saturday afternoon. He tended to enjoy some of those nature programs they’d play on PBS, but he’d also watch sports.

I wasn’t all that interested in sports so I pranced my way through the room, pranced in a manly way, and was quickly surprised to discover that there were no footballs players slamming into each other up there on the TV screen. There were no playful otters swimming gracefully in a stream. No, instead of sports or nature, there were two knights on the TV banging away at each other, very brutally, with swords.

I stopped and watched for a moment.

Should I be watching this? It did seem pretty violent. But my father never said a word.

One of the knights wore green, the other, black. They screamed and hacked at each other for a few moments before the knight in black flung his sword at the other knight and I gasped as the blade shot right into the eye slit of his opponent. Blood flowed freely from the sword stuck in the green knight’s head and you could even hear, for a moment, what sounded like the knight choking on his own blood. I stood there frozen and time stopped around me. Why wasn’t my dad telling me to run along? Why wasn’t he telling me that I was too young for this type of movie. But more importantly, why was he laughing?

I cautiously moved to the couch. My father said nothing to me. I sat next to him. He still did not dismiss me. I watched the movie.

I had noticed during the fight that two men were standing off to the side and were watching. One wore a crown, so he was obviously a king, and the other looked like he was his friend, or servant . . . I wasn’t sure. However, as the Black Knight was pulling his sword from the head of the Green Knight, the king gestured to the other man, and they rode forward to the Black Knight.

Rode forward.

Wait a minute. What was happening here? The King and the other man . . . they weren’t riding horses. As a matter of fact, the King was prancing along, making as if he was riding a horse, and the other man skipped along behind him and clopped together two empty halves of a coconut, which made the sounds of horse beats. This quickly went from something that looked terribly violent, to something that looked terribly silly. I laughed. I couldn’t stop myself.

The King, who turned out to be King Arthur, and the Black Knight fight. The music swells and before I know it King Arthur has cut off one of the Black Knight’s arms.

Again . . . I laughed. I felt bad about laughing. But I laughed anyway. I didn’t know why I was laughing, but there was just something about it that I found funny. Luckily, my dad was laughing too, so my guilt melted away pretty quickly. My laughter grew louder as the Black Knight, one arm off, acted as if he was perfectly fine and was OK to continue.

Soon Arthur had cut off the Knight’s other arm, then one of his legs, then his other. I couldn’t stop laughing at the bloody carnage on the screen, and neither could my father.

“What is this, Dad?” I asked him as I tried to catch my breath.

“Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” He tells me.

“The guy playing Arthur, is he Monty Python?”

“No.” Dad laughed. “It’s just what they are called.”

It didn’t make much sense to me, but I sat next to my Dad for them next hour and watched the entire movie. Most of it went over my young head. But a few scenes stood out.

The French soldiers and their outrageous accents. The cow they launch over the wall at Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. The Knights who say “Nii!”. It all just seemed incredibly silly, and I was hooked.

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