We all love Amy Schumer, everyone knows how brilliant Key &; Peele are, and you’ve watched Will Ferrell’s classic SNL sketches countless of times. But in this weekly column Sketchy MVPs, The Laugh Button shines a light on comedians from our favorites shows and troupes who don’t often get rightful credit for their contributions to sketch comedy.
Explaining the impact Monty Python made on comedy is frankly a tedious task. Ask anyone who considers themself a fan of comedy, and they’ll likely name at least one iconic sketch, character or line that came from Monty Python’s original TV series, Monty Python’s Flying Circus (that’s without even including iconic films like Holy Grail and Life Of Brian). And any attempt at debunking the show’s role in shaping comedy would be, as the Pythons themselves might put it, completely silly.
It’s also nearly impossible to pick a favorite Python, as each member (even Terry Gilliam through his animations) perfectly displayed the surreal, simplistic and truly absurd qualities that made Monty Python’s Flying Circus a truly legendary sketch comedy show. In other words, each Python will undoubtedly get their own Sketchy MVP profile someday… but for now, let’s focus on Michael Palin, who could easily go back and forth between playing depraved maniacs to the voice of reason with either high energy or a calm demeanor. Hell, he could make slapping someone with a fish, or even a simple proposition, come off as funny.
Palin is likely best remembered for his time in Monty Python (which in addition to the TV series included multiple films, numerous tours and specials). However, he’s also beloved for roles in movies like A Fish Called Wanda, and just recently announced plans to appear in fellow Python cohort Terry Gilliam’s long delayed Don Quixote film. He’s also starred and produced in many travel documentaries over the past few decades, also writing a book about the trips featured in each documentary.
Take a look at a few of our favorite Monty Python’s Flying Circus sketches featuring Palin (other than the “Dead Parrot” scene… we all already know about that classic) below.
“Bloody Barber”/”Lumberjack Song”
There’s absolutely no way you could compile a list of Monty Python’s best work (let alone Palin’s) without including the “Lumberjack Song.” The sight of a singing lumberjack backed by a choir of Canadian Mounties is hysterical in and of itself, but truly becomes comedy gold as the “lumberjack” reveals his true self through a quaint musical number.
What’s sometimes forgotten, though, is the original sketch that preludes the infamous song. It’s during this scene we get to witness Palin’s gift for physical delivery, making us laugh with every tremor made at the thought of having to cut someone’s hair.
Ironically, you probably did expect to see this included. But watching a poorly planned and communicated religious interrogation never gets old.
Somehow, we could watch Palin and John Cleese engage in a simplistic, childish argument for hours. Yet it’s Palin’s determination to participate in a proper argument that arguably sells this otherwise simple premise.
Characters like Ken Shabby and D.P. Gumby showed Palin’s capabilities of portraying somewhat disturbed members of society. But this TV spoof shows how charming Palin could also be… even when he’s committing blackmail.
Alright, alright… So we lied. We ARE including this sketch because…. Well, it’s a freaking classic! We’d even go as far to say it’s the “Stairway To Heaven” of sketchy comedy. And there’s a reason for that. Not only does it have a truly ridiculous premise (and we dare you not to laugh at the sight of Cleese banging a lifeless parrot against a counter), but it also perfectly shows how well Palin and Cleese played off of each other, with Palin’s lax demeanor only infuriating Cleese more as declares the bird’s (lack of) state.
Instead of just re-watching the classic sketch above, also watch as Palin, Cleese and the rest of the Pythons provide color commentary while watching a live performance of the iconic scene (which includes a rare instance of Palin cracking up) below.