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Everything I Ever Needed to Know About _____* I Learned from Monty Python: *History, Art, Poetry, Communism, Philosophy, the Media, Birth, Death, Religion, Literature, Latin, Transvestites, Botany, the French, Class Systems, Mythology, Fish Slapping, a...

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A comprehensive and hilarious guide to understanding the many Monty Python jokes and allusions Throughout their five seasons on British television (and well into the troop's movie sequels and assorted solo projects), Monty Python became a worldwide symbol not only for taking serious subjects and making them silly, but also for treating silly subjects seriously. Monty Python A comprehensive and hilarious guide to understanding the many Monty Python jokes and allusions Throughout their five seasons on British television (and well into the troop's movie sequels and assorted solo projects), Monty Python became a worldwide symbol not only for taking serious subjects and making them silly, but also for treating silly subjects seriously. Monty Python provided a treasure trove of erudite "in" jokes, offering sly allusions to subjects as diverse as T.S. Elliot's "Murder in the Cathedral" (as part of a commercial for a weight loss product) and how to conjugate Latin properly (as explained by a Roman centurion to a Jewish zealot painting anti-Roman graffiti on a wall). It was this combination of the uniquely highbrow but silly humor that inspired countless followers (Saturday Night Live, to name one). This hilarious and helpful guide puts Python's myriad references into context for the legion of fans, scholars, and pop culture aficionados that still strive to "get" Monty Python.


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A comprehensive and hilarious guide to understanding the many Monty Python jokes and allusions Throughout their five seasons on British television (and well into the troop's movie sequels and assorted solo projects), Monty Python became a worldwide symbol not only for taking serious subjects and making them silly, but also for treating silly subjects seriously. Monty Python A comprehensive and hilarious guide to understanding the many Monty Python jokes and allusions Throughout their five seasons on British television (and well into the troop's movie sequels and assorted solo projects), Monty Python became a worldwide symbol not only for taking serious subjects and making them silly, but also for treating silly subjects seriously. Monty Python provided a treasure trove of erudite "in" jokes, offering sly allusions to subjects as diverse as T.S. Elliot's "Murder in the Cathedral" (as part of a commercial for a weight loss product) and how to conjugate Latin properly (as explained by a Roman centurion to a Jewish zealot painting anti-Roman graffiti on a wall). It was this combination of the uniquely highbrow but silly humor that inspired countless followers (Saturday Night Live, to name one). This hilarious and helpful guide puts Python's myriad references into context for the legion of fans, scholars, and pop culture aficionados that still strive to "get" Monty Python.

30 review for Everything I Ever Needed to Know About _____* I Learned from Monty Python: *History, Art, Poetry, Communism, Philosophy, the Media, Birth, Death, Religion, Literature, Latin, Transvestites, Botany, the French, Class Systems, Mythology, Fish Slapping, a...

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lance Carney

    The authors of “Everything I Ever Needed to Know About _____* I Learned From Monty Python” are PH.Ds (well la-di-da, I’m off to play the grand piano) and they attempt to make sense of the silliness and absurdity of the British comedy group. They might have an easier time finding Venezuelan Beaver Cheese. My daughter bought me this book for my birthday because she had grown up with me saying things like, “Rene’ Descartes/semaphore/Spanish Inquisition/bouzouki music – I learned this from Monty Pyth The authors of “Everything I Ever Needed to Know About _____* I Learned From Monty Python” are PH.Ds (well la-di-da, I’m off to play the grand piano) and they attempt to make sense of the silliness and absurdity of the British comedy group. They might have an easier time finding Venezuelan Beaver Cheese. My daughter bought me this book for my birthday because she had grown up with me saying things like, “Rene’ Descartes/semaphore/Spanish Inquisition/bouzouki music – I learned this from Monty Python!” She bought the book during her college program semester at Disneyworld at a shop in the United Kingdom in Epcot so it must be the real deal (Walt even paid for the postage to have it shipped). The book is loosely divided into seven parts (note: There is nooooo…Part 4!) ranging from subjects such as history, art and sports. Although the subjects spill over into other chapters, the authors manage to link (“That’s a link!”) them back to the topic at hand rather ingeniously. Covered are skits from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Monty Python movies, Spamalot and even Monty Python comedy albums. (As a teenager, the album The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief completely blew my mind. I played the second side of the record album once and several weeks later played it again-and it was completely different material! There were double grooves and it depended on where you put the stylus as to which material you heard. You could have slapped me with a fish and knocked me into the water!) There are also quotes from the Pythons themselves making this a particularly strange and satisfying book. Fans of Monty Python will love this book. Casual fans and persons completely unfamiliar with Monty Python will just be confused (as well as their cats) but that is as it should be. I loved this book and now I’m going to grab my Monty Python’s Flying Circus complete series DVDs and get silly all over again. “It’s…”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Cogan and Massey sure know their Python-verse. This was a fun read for me because of the dance between classic Python sketches and heady, intellectual analysis. And you know it is heady, intellectual analysis based on the number of in-text references, footnotes, and break-out factoids! But every once in a while, you feel like you are right in the middle of a Pepperpot skit instead of just reading about it. I loved the discussions about the mash-ups, BBC, authority, and breaking television norms. Cogan and Massey sure know their Python-verse. This was a fun read for me because of the dance between classic Python sketches and heady, intellectual analysis. And you know it is heady, intellectual analysis based on the number of in-text references, footnotes, and break-out factoids! But every once in a while, you feel like you are right in the middle of a Pepperpot skit instead of just reading about it. I loved the discussions about the mash-ups, BBC, authority, and breaking television norms. MPFC took me through junior high and high school. They made me laugh, and they made me think! They still do! Time for some Holy Grail, Life of Brian, SPAM, and twit Olympics!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stewart

    In 1976, my younger brother Michael brought me to see the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” I wasn't familiar with the six British comedians who made and starred in the movie because their BBC television show, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” had not yet been broadcast on American TV stations and the group had not yet gained a cult following in the U.S. and throughout the world. In later years, I watched reruns of the TV programs (several times) and saw all their movies. I became a great In 1976, my younger brother Michael brought me to see the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” I wasn't familiar with the six British comedians who made and starred in the movie because their BBC television show, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” had not yet been broadcast on American TV stations and the group had not yet gained a cult following in the U.S. and throughout the world. In later years, I watched reruns of the TV programs (several times) and saw all their movies. I became a great fan. Their work was not merely funny, but intelligent, imaginative, and genre-breaking, five levels above most of the inane comedy available on American TV and in American movies the past 40 years. I laughed as their absurd premises were worked out with the utmost logic to their extreme conclusion. Most of all, their comedy was a brilliant mixture of high and low culture. The five Brits (Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, John Cleese, and Michael Palin) were educated at Cambridge or Oxford, and the American animator, Terry Gillian, went to Occidental College in California. Viewers could enjoy scenes where Greek and German philosophers try to play soccer, or Karl Marx appears on a TV quiz show attempting to win furniture, or King Arthur in the sixth century argues with a peasant named Dennis who throws out words such as “anarcho-syndicalism.” The Ministry of Silly Walks is a wonderful send-up of bureaucracy that Kafka might have written had he a much more pronounced sense of humor. And what could be more amusing than a condemned man nailed to a cross singing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” Monty Python fans who would like to examine the philosophical underpinning of the group’s comedy will enjoy “Everything I Ever Needed to Know About * I Learned From Monty Python,” a 2014 book by professors Brian Cogan and Jeff Massey of Molloy College in New York. The book analyzes the Python viewpoint on subjects such as history, sports, art, religion, language, and especially philosophy. It would be impossible, in this short review, to list or comment on everything in the book, but here are a few items I found noteworthy. The Python’s 1969-73 BBC television show was a surrealistic experience that, among other things, satirized the inanity, disconnectedness, and show-biz aspect of the U.S. broadcast media. Many media critics have commented on this atomization of TV news, but none with as much humor as the Pythons. “Neil Postman … analyzed the way that television news serves less as an actual indicator of important events and serves more as a stylistic exercise in meaningless facts and figures jumbled up and presented with enough razzmatazz to serve as entertainment.” The authors point out that "Monty Python’s Flying Circus" approached TV with destruction and deconstruction. “MPFC was perhaps the most surrealistic comedy show ever on television. It did not follow linear conventions but had its own internal logic where bizarre juxtapositions and references to the medium of television became the norm.” Organized religion did not escaped Monty Python's satire, most notably in the movie “Life of Brian,” which was roundly condemned by multitudes of clergy and faithful, most of whom never bothered to see it. What most of these people failed to understand was that the movie does not satirize Jesus or Christianity but mindless faith in authority, religious or any other kind. In many ways, Monty Python members were revolutionaries. “Again, one key element to understanding Python is recognizing that they were not just well-educated folk pointing out the obvious silliness in life, but that they were intentionally revolutionary and that they were often very, very angry. Python, while not overtly political as a group (with singular exceptions), created an incredibly politicized show, one that was anarchistic in the broadest sense: they were anti-authority on all levels. The members of Python did not just dislike authority; they hated it and devoted much of their material to trying to convince the audience that the trappings of power and authority that people encountered on a daily basis were absurd and needed to not just be laughed at but also directly questioned.” Writing an analytic book about comedy may seem to be a bad idea, much as having to explain a joke removes its humor. But Cogan and Massey write their analyses with jocularity, and I thought their well-documented insights illuminate the hows and whys of Monty Python's humor. It's a great read for fans.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

    It's time to come clean... (well as clean as I CAN be)... I was never a Monty Python fan. ::GASP:: I know, I know you ask, HOWE is it possible that I have SUCH an amazing sense of humor?! I think it's pretty much bc I grew up in a traveling family comedy troupe. Only we didn't travel. Except occasionally in an '83 Buick LeSabre Wagon. And before you ask, YES it WAS wood-paneled. Therefore my childhood > yours. Pay no mind to the occasional times it didn't have heat or the breaks went out or the It's time to come clean... (well as clean as I CAN be)... I was never a Monty Python fan. ::GASP:: I know, I know you ask, HOWE is it possible that I have SUCH an amazing sense of humor?! I think it's pretty much bc I grew up in a traveling family comedy troupe. Only we didn't travel. Except occasionally in an '83 Buick LeSabre Wagon. And before you ask, YES it WAS wood-paneled. Therefore my childhood > yours. Pay no mind to the occasional times it didn't have heat or the breaks went out or the never ending wire in the backseat bit your arse and legs so many times you have scars. (I just tell people those are from the S&M nights at the little people club... yes, I'm well aware that I'm going to hell, I've heard that more than I've asked for refills at bars.) Did I digress?! Why of COURSE i did. I WILL say as I get older I appreciate Monty Python more... bc they do have a lot of intellect within their comedy. I still struggle with some of the slapstick ish that they do, but I mean, how can one not respect comedy that has no qualms about subjects like Transvestites and birth control? I mean I'm blushing just thinking of some of their topics that I'd NEVER touch! (E-casm is a b*&ch to get across sometimes, innit?) This book does do an excellent job of showcasing just how intricately built in the humor and intellect are into Monty Python. So I have begun appreciating it more... I think that means I'm getting old. And to that I say... FECK MY LIFE... and bring back WOOD PANELING!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Randall Wallace

    As Gillian said, “We approached the Grail as seriously as Pasolini did.” Heroes to most of us, Monty Python showed how rules appeared arbitrary and authority itself was suspect. To many of us being told that we now had to specialize and the days of the generalist were over, Monty Python showed us that specialists rarely saw from the birds eye view – they were too caught up in the rules and narrow definitions of authority (much like our parents!). One member said simply, “We did it to make oursel As Gillian said, “We approached the Grail as seriously as Pasolini did.” Heroes to most of us, Monty Python showed how rules appeared arbitrary and authority itself was suspect. To many of us being told that we now had to specialize and the days of the generalist were over, Monty Python showed us that specialists rarely saw from the birds eye view – they were too caught up in the rules and narrow definitions of authority (much like our parents!). One member said simply, “We did it to make ourselves laugh”. In the end a lot of this book is simply filler that merely reminds you how great some of the skits were and so only four stars. What I liked more was the deeper mentions of Python’s subversive nature and their seeing the danger of many things being used by elites including religion as a way to consolidate power. To those of us raised in the 60’s, Python made sense in the same way as Michel Foucalt, Susan Sontag, because they at the same time were creating mash-ups of different deep subjects.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Eric Bauman

    I thought that this was going to be a serious look at what the work of the Monty Python troupe could teach us. And indeed, it did start that way. But then, it seemed to devolve into something like the authors auditioning for the Improv. Now, I have no problem with the use of humor in a book like this--I would expect it. The problem for me was that the authors resorted it to it too much. There were constant footnotes which consisted of a line from Monty Python that might have applied to what they I thought that this was going to be a serious look at what the work of the Monty Python troupe could teach us. And indeed, it did start that way. But then, it seemed to devolve into something like the authors auditioning for the Improv. Now, I have no problem with the use of humor in a book like this--I would expect it. The problem for me was that the authors resorted it to it too much. There were constant footnotes which consisted of a line from Monty Python that might have applied to what they were talking about, and this tended to weaken any point they might have been making because by the time your eyes navigated to the bottom of the page, read the lines then got back to the text, any point was lost. This should have been much better.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Similar to the Pop Culture and Philosophy books, but more interesting and enjoyable. What I didn't like about this book were the errors I found in the finished book. They ranged from mildly irritating typos (mixing symbols and numbers to indicate notes) to factual errors (repeatedly saying the Pythons were in their thirties while making Meaning of Life when they were all in their forties). Received via Goodreads First Reads. Similar to the Pop Culture and Philosophy books, but more interesting and enjoyable. What I didn't like about this book were the errors I found in the finished book. They ranged from mildly irritating typos (mixing symbols and numbers to indicate notes) to factual errors (repeatedly saying the Pythons were in their thirties while making Meaning of Life when they were all in their forties). Received via Goodreads First Reads.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Will

    A highly useful examination of how Monty Python references are linked to contemporary society, culture and history... including who Semprini really was! And now for something completely different: the last paragraph. The last paragraph.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    More scholarly and less entertaining than I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, I like scholarly. It was the less funny part that dragged it down. It had a flavor of Chris Farley "Remember that time the penguin blew up on the telly?" to it in a lot of parts. More scholarly and less entertaining than I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, I like scholarly. It was the less funny part that dragged it down. It had a flavor of Chris Farley "Remember that time the penguin blew up on the telly?" to it in a lot of parts.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jon Hewelt

    Lots of good/useful/thought-provoking entertaining information/analysis concerning Python, but the authors' attempts at humor mostly fell flat for me. Lots of good/useful/thought-provoking entertaining information/analysis concerning Python, but the authors' attempts at humor mostly fell flat for me.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nick Spacek

    It's exhaustive, but rather than trying to exist on its own merits -- which are many -- it opts instead to ape the Pythons' sense of humor. Strangely enough, Cogan makes the point over and over that nobody ever took on what the Pythons did with television, and to a point, he's correct. The influence on the group was never as anarchic onscreen as the originals were themselves, but as Cogan's book ably demonstrates, the group's influence spread to fiction in ways that far outstripped any influence It's exhaustive, but rather than trying to exist on its own merits -- which are many -- it opts instead to ape the Pythons' sense of humor. Strangely enough, Cogan makes the point over and over that nobody ever took on what the Pythons did with television, and to a point, he's correct. The influence on the group was never as anarchic onscreen as the originals were themselves, but as Cogan's book ably demonstrates, the group's influence spread to fiction in ways that far outstripped any influence they might've had on sketch comedy. Everything I Needed to Know ... actually ends up seeming less like Monty Python in print and more like a take-off of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. These two authors took what the Pythons did on television -- anarchic, strange humor that bore little resemblance to what one expected, but rewarded careful attention and repeated visits -- and put it into print. Sadly, Cogan's attempts to match that come off as strained and forced, and really ruin what could've otherwise been an entertaining book without trying so damned hard.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cale

    Critical Analysis of a series that focuses on parodying criticism seems like quite the challenge. The authors do a fairly good job, recognizing the impossibilities in some ways, and still mining a fair bit of critical depth and introspection of the Python troupe and their show. There are a number of weaknesses (the editing isn't wonderful; the footnote style varies occasionally, and there are numerous quotes and references that are used two and three times in the book, and most of the attempts a Critical Analysis of a series that focuses on parodying criticism seems like quite the challenge. The authors do a fairly good job, recognizing the impossibilities in some ways, and still mining a fair bit of critical depth and introspection of the Python troupe and their show. There are a number of weaknesses (the editing isn't wonderful; the footnote style varies occasionally, and there are numerous quotes and references that are used two and three times in the book, and most of the attempts at humor fall flat), but there's also a lot to like here. The book isn't a reference guide to all the allusions and characters, although it does break down a few scenes in such a manner. It's more about focusing on the different levels Monty Python's Flying Circus can be enjoyed on. And it made me want to rewatch the series, which is probably the best result it could ask for.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    Okay, so I didn't actually finish this book. I was very interested in it upon first glance, but by the time I got through the first 100 or so pages, I decided to give up on it. I love Monty Python, and the authors (both Ph.D.'s),definitely know their stuff, but it was just a bit too dense for me. I'm not sure "dense" is the right word, but I'd rather say that than "too intellectual." I consider myself a smart person, but this book just got into the academics too much to be very entertaining for Okay, so I didn't actually finish this book. I was very interested in it upon first glance, but by the time I got through the first 100 or so pages, I decided to give up on it. I love Monty Python, and the authors (both Ph.D.'s),definitely know their stuff, but it was just a bit too dense for me. I'm not sure "dense" is the right word, but I'd rather say that than "too intellectual." I consider myself a smart person, but this book just got into the academics too much to be very entertaining for me. I enjoyed references to the show, and found it interesting to have some background on the Pythons, but I just didn't want to keep reading it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Brian Palmer

    This book is like having a conversation with a knowledgeable friend, reminiscing about classic Monty Python skits. Much like having a conversation with a friend, I wouldn't rely on it for anything too important, and they have a tendency to repeat themselves, and parts of the at times quite funny conversations are really derivative of python humor in general, but .... And, of course, some of the interpretations are amusingly strained, but it's peppered with interesting facts and factoids. After ea This book is like having a conversation with a knowledgeable friend, reminiscing about classic Monty Python skits. Much like having a conversation with a friend, I wouldn't rely on it for anything too important, and they have a tendency to repeat themselves, and parts of the at times quite funny conversations are really derivative of python humor in general, but .... And, of course, some of the interpretations are amusingly strained, but it's peppered with interesting facts and factoids. After each chapter, I had a list of sketches to look up and watch on youtube -- either ones I had missed, or the book talked about details that had passed me by. Time well spent.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kareninsacramento

    A terrific idea, and much of this was fun (the tone is light, and has much of the Python humor). But it is written as if it were a Ph.D. thesis (and it most likely was), so there is a great deal of overanalysis, source-citation, and other bogging-down that make it less strictly enjoyable than it could be. I skimmed parts of it heavily after about the middle, but it's worthwhile read for Python fans, regardless. A terrific idea, and much of this was fun (the tone is light, and has much of the Python humor). But it is written as if it were a Ph.D. thesis (and it most likely was), so there is a great deal of overanalysis, source-citation, and other bogging-down that make it less strictly enjoyable than it could be. I skimmed parts of it heavily after about the middle, but it's worthwhile read for Python fans, regardless.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    "This hilarious and helpful guide puts Python's myriad references into context . . . " I could tell the authors were trying to be funny, but I found it not so. Too much asterisked copy so that you had to stop what you were reading to read what was at the bottom of the page. "This hilarious and helpful guide puts Python's myriad references into context . . . " I could tell the authors were trying to be funny, but I found it not so. Too much asterisked copy so that you had to stop what you were reading to read what was at the bottom of the page.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Monica Hall

    So far I am feeling like I am editing a college essay. I get excited when I realize I understand almost every reference to every sketch and movie, however, that knowledge seems to not help me understand the application to the author's point. I'll keep reading. So far I am feeling like I am editing a college essay. I get excited when I realize I understand almost every reference to every sketch and movie, however, that knowledge seems to not help me understand the application to the author's point. I'll keep reading.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    This book was definitively worth reading, although it was more "academic" than I was expecting. Expectations aside, it did provide some delightful, and sometimes insightful, analyses of Python humor. It certainly rekindled my love of MPFC. This book was definitively worth reading, although it was more "academic" than I was expecting. Expectations aside, it did provide some delightful, and sometimes insightful, analyses of Python humor. It certainly rekindled my love of MPFC.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Miriam

    Pretty good, but the style was more academic that I would have liked.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Patty

    Well put together analysis with the proper amount of witticisms to make it worthy of its name.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lynne Cosmano

    very comprehensive

  22. 4 out of 5

    David Melbie

    Ha! Yup, I believe that I have a Python education as well!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alaina

  24. 5 out of 5

    Diana

  25. 5 out of 5

    Veronica M.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Edgar Ballarín

  27. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  28. 5 out of 5

    OTIS

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sarenna

  30. 4 out of 5

    Simon Guthrie

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