“Saturday Night Live” celebrated its 40th anniversary back in February, but 2015 also marks the 40th anniversary for another famous group of sketch comedians from across the pond. “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” beat “SNL” to the punch as a sketch comedy show by six years. Though not able to achieve their longevity on TV, “SNL” was just getting going when the players from Monty Python would make their big screen debut with “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
Using the legend of King Arthur and his knights of the round table as their playground, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin and Eric Idle made a seamless transition from TV to film with one of the funniest movies of all-time.
There are too many classic scenes to list, but from the title credits to the fade to black, the film throws everything at you and dares you not to laugh. It’s more than just sight gags too, there is great wit to many of the scenes as they knew just how far they could push something. For all they get away with, it’s pretty evident that the rating today would be well past the PG rating it received in 1975.
Even more impressive than what they got away with, was the shelf life of the jokes they made. Many of today’s comedies are so dominated by pop cultural references that the older they get the more dated they seem. Whereas “Holy Grail” remains timeless; pick it up anytime, whether it be your first or 100th time, and the antics of the Black Knight and the Knights who say Ni are just as funny. The material also spread beyond the screen as the tony winning musical “Spamalot” was adapted from “Holy Grail.”
We’d only get three feature films from the Monty Python troupe including “Holy Grail.” They’d follow-up their debut with “Life of Brian” in 1979 and then had “The Meaning of Life” in 1983. After, the group broke out on their own and pursued independent projects. They would reunite for a couple of live shows, most recently in 2014 – save for Graham Chapman, who passed away 1989. However, we will be getting a quasi Monty Python reunion of the big screen this year, as Cleese, Gilliam, Idle, Jones and Palin will voice aliens in “Absolutely Anything,” directed by Jones.
“SNL” may have been around for 40 years, but Monty Python troupe has as much, if not more, reverence for many in an even shorter time frame. A large part of that is due to “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” which has created a legend all of its own.