Friday, September 14, 2012

Monty Python Sketch: Ripped From The Headlines

It's not just episodes of NBC's Lawn Odor that find their inspiration in the morning news: the Monty Python "Piranha Brothers" bit turns out to have real-life antecedents in the notorious Kray Brothers, with borrowings from contemporary, opposing criminal gangs. The reality is nearly as much a string of non sequiturs as the comedic version -- minus the laughs.

(For that matter, the Guy Ritchie Britcrime move Snatch plays a tune in much the same key.... Something about the British sense of humo[u]r?)

In the first run, audiences certainly knew the underlying truth, lending a sharp and even bitter edge to the joke, in much the same way that the first generation to read -- and laugh over -- "Casey At The Bat (A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888)" had read Macaulay's "Horatius At The Bridge (A Lay of Ancient Rome)," and knew that both men had "struck out:" Casey with his bat and the ancient Roman swimming -- striking out -- for the bank of the Tiber; that is but the last and least of the deliberate parallels, allusions and sly puns to be found. As Thayer -- "Phin" -- so the Pythons; and to the modern day, Weird Al Yankovic.


Blackwing1 said...

At least Ernest L. Thayer wasn't a lawyer. There was a lawyer named Thayer once, and it turned out he just hated probate court. It became well known in the law firm that he'd always be out of the office or on vacation when an estate came up for probate. In fact, it's the origin of the phrase:

"Where there's a will, Thayer's away."

Dwight Brown said...

Heh. I remember the first time I read about the Krays and the light suddenly going on. "Oh! That's what Monty Python was going on about!"

I'm not sure how available it is, but I liked Peter Medak's film The Krays.