This week's pick: the one, the only, the incredibly, impossibly, ENDLESSLY h-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s "Monty Python." You can start thanking the comedy gods now, because thanks to Netflix, we can all watch "Life of Brian," "Flying Circus" AND "Monty Python's Personal Best" over the holidays.
Shout it from the rooftops! Share it with the kids who're old enough, the friends who need a good laugh and the family you want to laugh with. It's "Monty Python," people! It's certified gold, granted to us from our cousins across the pond and you know what? It may single-handedly be the best thing the Brits have ever done.
What's it about, you ask?
*Sighs, sits down, takes a sip of well-aged scotch, looks into the camera and smiles.*
The "Monty Python" comedy group did for comedy what The Beatles did for music. They laid a foundation of hilarity so absurd, so surreal and groundbreaking it captured the hearts, minds and funny bones of a generation. The content "Monty Python" created inspired comics the world over, and sketch comedy wouldn't be the same without them.
In a time when it seems we're all walking on eggshells, it's actually nice to revisit the utterly stupid, offensive and pointed work of "Monty Python" because sometimes, you just need to take a load off and laugh.
"Life of Brian" tells the story of Brian Cohen (Graham Chapman), a Jewish man born on the same day AND next door to Jesus Christ. Unfortunately for him, our young Brian is mistaken for the Messiah and subsequently condemned to a life of unintended righteousness.
Brian tries to tell his followers that he's not who they think, that he's no savior or saint...but it's useless -- they follow him to the end. Honestly, it doesn't get more creatively satirical and surreal than that. How does one even come up with an idea so insane?!
The film received a ton of criticism when it was released. Some British authorities even banned it! Granted, for Christians, "The Life of Brian" isn't exactly a work of respect or admiration.
But man oh man, is it funny.
The "Flying Circus" was the first masterpiece "Monty Python" gave to the masses. With four series, 45 episodes and just all of the funnies, it swept across England faster than it takes to boil a pot of tea. The television program defied genre, ditched punchlines and bordered on senselessness and yet, still managed to make sense all the same.
The "Monty Python" troop embedded witty intelligence into these skits and sketches, referencing philosophers and artists on a metaphorical level that English teachers the world over could appreciate. They were also uber-political, so maybe the current SNL writers really aren't that bad after all!
Our personal favorite "Flying Circus" sketch? "The Ministry of Silly Walks." We once tested ourselves to see if we could walk all the way to lunch like that.
"Monty Python's Personal Best" is, well, what the five living members regard as their absolute best work. The troupe has historically hated their own stuff, criticizing themselves for shortcomings and executive failures throughout the years -- so watching them look back is cynical as all hell, and also, f*cking funny.
This special release is new to Netflix, and it's perfect for any long-time Python fan. Each segment is an "interview" with a respective member. Running at an hour apiece, the bits range from John Cleese pretending he's senile to Terry Gilliam claiming that "Flying Circus" was supposed to be his show and his alone. They may be old, but they've definitely still got it.
Honestly, this review of their work is far superior to any fake sitcom recap or montage episode. "Monty Python" understands how to "do" meta, and they do it right.
But what makes it <i>different</i>?<div><sup>And why should I care?</sup></div>
If we haven't gotten the point across already, "Monty Python" movies and shows are as different, original and unique as you can get. There still really isn't anything else out there that can hold a candle to their absurdity.
That being said, you should care because if you like comedy movies, stand-up, improv or laughing in general, you owe some of that appreciation to these guys.
You should also care because this stuff won't be on Netflix forever, so get it while it's hot!
If you're still on the fence...
Shove it up your arse!
If you're still on the fence, watch some more YouTube clips. Talk to a friend who's seen "Monty Python" stuff before and let them convince you. For the love of all that is right in this world, please, please -- give it a try. Maybe you'll hate it!
Chances are, you won't.