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Monty Python's Flying Circus

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One of the most innovative comedic programs to air on television, Monty Python’s Flying Circus was a mix of the carnivalesque and the critical. The show has become famous for ... eschewing many of the conventions of situation comedy, the fully formed and coherent script, narrative closure, predictable characters, and the decorum associated with presentation. Its curious transatlantic popularity defied the assumption that comedy is regional and exclusive, and the show’s cult status still lives on in the United States and United Kingdom through reruns, videos, DVDs, and continual reappearances by the show’s now iconic stars. Most written accounts of Monty Python’s Flying Circus focus solely on members of the Pythons, histories of the sketches, or the development of other Monty Python projects, leaving a dearth of scholarly and contextual analysis on the television show itself. Marcia Landy’s book is one of the rare studies available examining the Flying Circus within the context of its time, analyzing the show’s influence on 1960s and 1970s British television as well as British cultural influence on the show’s legendary material. Landy explores not only why the series’ complex form of comedy was important but also why it was so well received, citing the Pythons’ amalgam of comedic material: the unruly treatment of sexuality, the mockery of religion and class, and the critique of the medium of television. The Flying Circus parodied both the lowbrow and the highbrow, throwing many previously untouchable topics into the ring, and here Landy deconstructs the impact of the show’s risks and reception. As informative as it is engaging and entertaining, this book will appeal to film and media scholars, popular culture enthusiasts, and Monty Python fans alike. Read more Show Less

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Overview

One of the most innovative comedic programs to air on television, Monty Python’s Flying Circus was a mix of the carnivalesque and the critical. The show has become famous for eschewing many of the conventions of situation comedy, the fully formed and coherent script, narrative closure, predictable characters, and the decorum associated with presentation. Its curious transatlantic popularity defied the assumption that comedy is regional and exclusive, and the show’s cult status still lives on in the United States and United Kingdom through reruns, videos, DVDs, and continual reappearances by the show’s now iconic stars. Most written accounts of Monty Python’s Flying Circus focus solely on members of the Pythons, histories of the sketches, or the development of other Monty Python projects, leaving a dearth of scholarly and contextual analysis on the television show itself.

Marcia Landy’s book is one of the rare studies available examining the Flying Circus within the context of its time, analyzing the show’s influence on 1960s and 1970s British television as well as British cultural influence on the show’s legendary material. Landy explores not only why the series’ complex form of comedy was important but also why it was so well received, citing the Pythons’ amalgam of comedic material: the unruly treatment of sexuality, the mockery of religion and class, and the critique of the medium of television. The Flying Circus parodied both the lowbrow and the highbrow, throwing many previously untouchable topics into the ring, and here Landy deconstructs the impact of the show’s risks and reception. As informative as it is engaging and entertaining, this book will appeal to film and media scholars, popular culture enthusiasts, and Monty Python fans alike.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814331033
  • Publisher: Wayne State University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2005
  • Series: TV Milestones Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.01 (h) x 0.31 (d)

Meet the Author

Marcia Landy is Distinguished Service Professor of English and Film Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. She is author and editor of many books, most recently author of Italian Film (Cambridge, 2000) and co-editor of The Historical Film: History and Memory in Media (Rutgers University Press, 2001). She is also editor of Imitations of Life: A Reader on Film and Television Melodrama (Wayne State University Press, 1991).
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Table of Contents

The Flying circus and the Wide world of entertainment 1
The Pythons 4
The Flying circus in a changing British culture 15
The British Broadcasting Corporation 19
The Pythons and American television 25
Antecedents and influences 30
Situating comedy 35
Television time 40
Television forms and genres 44
Animals, insects, machines, and human bodies 62
Cross-dressing and gender bending 70
Hyperbole, excess, and escalation 79
Recycling literature, drama, cinema, and art 83
Language, words, sense, and nonsense 86
Common sense and audience response 95
The Flying circus revisted 99
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