Facts about Monty Circus
Monty Python’s Flying Circus Biography
Absurdist jokes about dead parrots, Spam, and the Spanish Inquisition: these were the specialty of the comedy group Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
The group formed in 1969 to make what was expected to be a low-key late-night comedy show on the BBC. The members were two friends from Oxford (Michael Palin and Terry Jones), three Cambridge grads (John Cleese, Eric Idle, and Graham Chapman) and an American animator, Terry Gilliam.
First broadcast on October 5, 1969, Monty Python’s Flying Circus featured the five Brits in extremely silly, stream-of-consciousness comedy sketches, tied together (or interrupted) by Gilliam’s strange, bulbous animations. The show was an unexpected hit in Britain during its four-season run (1969-74) and then gained fresh life when it was rebroadcast in the United States beginning in 1975.
The momentum led to a series of Monty Python movies: And Now For Something Completely Different (1971), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Life of Brian (1979) and The Meaning of Life (1983). The group broke up for good after The Meaning of Life, but in the decades since then the fame of Monty Python has, if anything, increased.
Graham Chapman died of cancer in 1989, and Terry Jones died in 2020, but the remaining Pythons held occasional reunions and continued to cash in with books, videos, and even a Broadway show (the 2005 hit Spamalot) based on their classic routines.
The famous Monty Python theme song is actually the “Liberty Bell March” by American composer John Phillip Sousa… “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” was a nonsense name made up by the group; there is nobody named Monty Python, and the show was not about a flying circus. Other show names considered by the group included Owl Stretching Time, Gwen Dibley’s Flying Circus, and Bun, Wackett, Buzzard, Stubble and Boot… Carol Cleveland was the redhead who often took female roles in Monty Python sketches… A 1974 film, Jabberwocky, was directed by Terry Gilliam and starred Michael Palin but was not a Monty Python project… Michael Palin is also known for his travel shows, including Pole to Pole (1992) and Full Circle (1997)… Terry Gilliam directed the films Time Bandits (1981), Brazil (1985) and Fear and Loating in Las Vegas (1998).
3 Good Links
- The group's official site
- Assorted Python humor, with lots of great videos
- The network's history, with good links on the right