Spam Box: The 7 Best Monty Python Sketches

“Spamalot” is running at the Connecticut Repertory Theatre all this week. Based on the timeless classic film “Monty Python and The Holy Grail,” the CRT version is directed by head of the Department of Dramatic Arts Vincent J. Cardinal, who is leaving the University of Connecticut later this year.

“Monty Python,” a sketch-based comedy show, is well loved by its audience and has revolutionized the field of surreal comedy. “Monty Python and The Holy Grail” was the cast’s first full length film and remains a cult classic to this day. So, in honor of “Spamalot,” I give you the best and most hilarious Monty Python sketches there are, because there’s nothing better for procrastinating for exams than contemplating spiced-tinned pork product.

1.     The Dead Parrot Sketch

Possibly the most famous Monty Python sketch. John Cleese, playing an irate customer, attempts to return a deceased bird to a pet shop owner played by Michael Palin. It was originally based on an acting game, where two actors improvise a scene without repeating any lines whatsoever. Thus, we have twenty different euphemisms for an expired parrot. Pining for the fjords, indeed.

2.     The Lumberjack Song

We all have dreams. Sometimes, those dreams don’t necessarily line up with the expectations of our parents and peers; thus, you have an aspiring lumberjack in a barbershop. This is lovingly illustrated by Michael Palin as he sing, sing, sings about how “He’s a lumberjack and he’s ok.” Of course, not all lumberjacks “dress in women’s clothing,” but I suppose we’ll have to take his word for it.

3.     Hungarian Phrasebook

It’s not tourism if it doesn’t have a humorous mistranslation incident. In any case, whoever published John Cleese’s ‘Hungarian Phrasebook’ should probably order a reprint, as a hapless tobacconist played by Terry Jones soon finds out. It’s still a mystery as to how ‘My hovercraft is full of eels’ can translate into ‘matches,’ but stating to a random shopkeeper if he wants to ‘come back to my place’ for ‘bouncy bouncy’ is probably ill-advised. 

4.     Crunchy Frog

A word to the wise: never order sweets from ‘The Whizzo Chocolate Company,’ as you may find that their candies have a little more than you asked for. As a police investigator, played by John Cleese, and his assistant, played by Graham Chapman, soon learn, the candy ‘Crunchy Frog’ contains a ‘crunchy, unboned, whole, real, dead frog.’ The rest of the confections are no better, as the ‘Ram’s Bladder Cup’ is exactly what you’d expect and ‘garnished with lark’s vomit.’ We can only assume what the ‘Cockroach Cluster’ and ‘Anthrax Ripple’ have in store.

5.     How Not to Be Seen

Absurdist humor taken to a ludicrous degree, the sketch starts off as a seemingly innocuous publish service film about the art of ‘not being seen.’ It then progresses or perhaps regresses, as the film goes on and ends with narrator John Cleese being blown up. Pure ridiculousness and hilarity.  

6.     SPAM

There are vikings. There’s Spam. The vikings sing about the aforementioned Spam. And, of course, a diner that offers a menu with entrees such as ‘Spam, Spam Spam egg bacon and Spam.’ Throw in a reluctant British wife, played by Graham Chapman, who doesn’t particularly like Spam and you have comedy gold. 

7.     Funniest Joke in The World

When Ernest Scribbler, played by Michael Palin, inadvertently writes ‘the funniest joke in the world,’ he dies laughing. The deadly and unseen joke has the same effect on everyone, leaving death by laughter in its wake. The British military takes advantage of this, translating it into German ‘one word at a time’ and weaponizing it against the Nazis. The joke is never actually heard - even the German the soldiers shout out is merely gibberish. Perhaps it’s better that the world never knows. 


Marlese Lessing is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu.