The Satirical Essence of Monty Python Imbibed Into Cotemporary Theatre

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  • Topic: Comedy, Monty Python's Flying Circus, John Cleese
  • Pages : 5 (2212 words )
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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The very essence of Contemporary Theatre is that is such a diverse realm of performance art. Many different playwrights have contributed to this post World War Two theatre that instead of keeping to just one narrow genre it was able to branch out to cover all aspects and views of an ever transitional modern society. Theatrical pieces from this time period have ranged from Existentialism, pioneered by Jean Paul Sartre, to the Theatre of the Absurd, which was precedented by Samuel Beckett, and all along the way a myriad of performance genres sprung up to support this new post-war society. Most plays of the contemporary theatre tended to focus up on one single aspect of theatre, though a group of men formed a performance troupe that would ever change such a notion. Monty Python's Flying Circus revolutionized the stage performance, incorporating many aspects of modern day theatre; such as realism, surrealism, futurism, existentialism and of course Theatre of the Absurd, for no Python sketch was sans an eccentric dash of absurdity.The very roots of Monty Python lay in the humble beginnings of six men, five British and one American, who took to the stage in college and never looked back. The six Pythons; Graham Chapman, Eric Idel, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, John Cleese, and Terry Gilliam, began their acting drudgeries before the footlights but not without a struggle. Much of their work was initially considered too risqué for college theatre, though eventually, but a few years down the road, after several stints with other performance acts one of the greatest comedic troupes to ever be born of the British Theatre were gathered for their first show on October 5, 1969 to a mediocre crowd at best. Michael Palin said it best when he claimed that "their first viewers were insomniacs, intellectuals, and burglars" (Howard xxiv). Though many failed to realize it, it was that initial audience that was attracted, the combination of such extremes that would come to make up many of the Troupe's future fans. It is theorized that it might have been their middle class upbringing, either in the States or in England, which lead to form a structure up on which to base their comic stylings, societal attitudes leading them to become exposed to society and in turn gave them something to rebel against. From such humble beginnings, and a rather slow start ratings wise, Monty Python's Flying Circus did gradually become a veritable phenomenon all through-out the entire world, and not just it's home country of England. Though Python almost wasn't a hit in America. On the initial introduction of the troupe to the United States while appearing on the Johnny Carson show, they were greeted with less that mediocre appreciation by the audience and were fairly doomed in America for the next two years until their premier film was released, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. After the first airing of an episode in America it was blatantly obvious that Python did not appeal to a mainstream audience, on the otherhand it tended to attract more esoteric and intelligent viewers.What made Python so accessible to people all over the world was the topics that were covered were easily able to be related to by all different classes and cultures. Many of the famous skits that were performed revolved around the satirization of society, the government and politics, finance, and day to day life. John Cleese commented on Python's tackling such taboo subjects as saying "one thing we did manage to do was to put up on the screen some archetypes that people seem to recognize no matter what their culture or generation" (Howard 365). The Pythons performed this material on a level that made it accessible to many types of people the world over, much like William Shakespeare did by having his plays relate to all the classes on one level or another. Such simple skits such as The Silly Walk and Argument Clinic sums up the intelligent, sophisticated, repressed British...
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