“Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Know what I mean?”

If there’s one thing that could be relied on about Monty Python and its ilk, it was good, clean, honest-to-goodness, humor.

Where’s it all gone?

Television today provides the most appalling service of any industry in the history of mankind. It’s not just American television, though this nation leads the field in cheap, nasty, unrelentingly boring tat, peddled under the misnomer of “entertainment”.

If the British public are to be believed, their service has similarly descended into a pernicious pit of pigswill, spewing forth noxious odors from a veritable volcano of vomit labeled, “Reality TV”.

Where once the BBC could be relied on for meticulous period dramas and high quality variety entertainment, by comparison, tonight’s peak-hour line-up now consists of ‘on-couch’ chats with unknown ‘celebrities’; the inevitable soap opera; a grindingly boring sports quiz, and an overly long-running series called “Spooks”, in which “a teenage boy stumbles upon a government conspiracy and is absorbed into the world of MI5”.

Needless to say, there are other British channels. They serve up cold left overs from ABC, FOX, Hallmark, or any one of a thousand other US cable outlets.

Where have all the “Monty Pythons” gone?

No, I don’t mean the plethora of perpetual repeats of that iconic, but grossly overexposed series from the early 1970’s. Where are all the similarly titillating, charming, side-busting, modern day equivalents?

The simple answer is: there aren’t any. Comedy is dead. It’s been replaced.

What’s it been replaced by? I’ll tell you – in one word:


That’s what makes people laugh these days. Just one little word, but it’ll set the theater on fire when uttered by Lewis Black, Jon Stewart, or any number of other would be Pythonesque students. Who needs jokes when one four letter word, uttered in the right way, will get you all the laughs you could wish for?

The ‘piece de resistance’ of TV channels dedicated to providing an audience with enough tat to decorate the walls of the local Wal-Mart, has to be that great ‘hands-across-the-ocean’, trans-Atlantic bastion of all things British, BBC America.

Designed to bamboozle the American viewer into believing the average Brit lives solely to raid attics in search of valuable antiques; is ready and willing to switch from a diet of burger and chips to three lettuce leaves a week if only he can go on television to do it, or is happiest when divulging the disgustingly filthy state of his post-war semi-detached to an international audience, this television station has survived for years by repeatedly repeating repeats of repeats of repeats of repeats until eventually the video becomes too grainy to be viewed ever again.

For an occasional break from the domestic grunge of the average English family, BBC America will allow us a glimpse into the artistic talents of top chef, Gordon Ramsey, as he goes about his business of serving unsuspecting viewers with generous helpings – of the word, “FUCK”, while castigating his unfortunate kitchen staff in a manner scarcely tolerated by lowly Victorian scullery maids, who definitely weren’t exposing themselves to ridicule on international television.

Sadly, those glorious days when the television medium was a crucible of talent, birthing young starlets into a genteel world of Bronte, Austen, and the Oxford Footlights Revue, have long since vanished into obscurity.

No more will new Monty Pythons grace our LCD or LED screens – their demise as assured as the very cathode ray tubes that once glowed with the cutting edge humor of Palin, Jones, Chapman, Idle, Cleese, and Gilliam. A humor certainly not reliant on four letter expletives for effect.

In fact, it can be reliably stated that the word, “FUCK”, was never once used by the Monty Python team on British television.

What?……….. okay…….are you sure?   Damn!

Well…… almost hardly ever……

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8 Replies to ““Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Know what I mean?””

  1. One of the reasons I don’t have a television, RJA.
    if there is anything good out there I get it from the library or buy and watch at my leisure. I have a treasure trove of Masterpiece Theatres et al and love to re-watch the good stuff…

  2. I do regret the amount of money my husband spends on our TV licence. The only things I watch are: Dr Who (not currently on), Torchwood (not currently on) and the new Oceans documentary (only 2 eps left). My husband watched the first episode of Survivors on Sunday, but I had to go away as I was “spoiling it” by pointing out a few realities (people, even if they die in their sleep, don’t die cleanly and nicely, particularly if it is from some form of plague. If it is a disease that people drop dead from, then they don’t carefully park up before slumping over their wheels…)

  3. Me again. Sometimes I think people’s sense of humor ages as well as the rest of them. A joke or phrase is usually only funny the first time we hear it and by the time people reach 50 or so, nothing much surprises them anymore. I think people still laugh at the f word because it is still slightly unexpected but at the rate it is sprinkled into conversation, it too will be blase soon.

  4. LOL at the sound clip RJ – it was very Carlin-esque, but don’t think it was his voice.

    We have a big stock of VCRs and DVDs to watch for entertainment when the cry goes up (nearly every night) “There’s nothing on worth watching!”

    Sunday evenings, after 11pm on the public TV channel we get repeats of BBC’s “Vicar of Dibley” and “As Time Goes By”, on a loop – when the series end they just start at the beginning again! We sit and watch ’em over and over….they are so good!

    Quality new comedy seems to have disappeared from TV on both sides of the pond in the last decade. Maybe, like plants, it has a dormant period, then it’ll spring into new life…..but when?

  5. When I was living in Ireland (for the brief 10 months) I was looking forward to Stephen Fry’s QI show. Other than that all I watched was the documentaries.
    In Australia it is a similar thing; I watch the documentaries on SBS (I am so glad we have SBS here, you can watch old comedy, good new comedy and world cinema). Regular TV channels are full of what you are describing above. I have always believed that the broadcasting institutions have a duty of care to provide people with a level of education, for the better, for the improvement of language and culturally speaking: general knowledge on various subjects. It’s a pity that this duty of care is being grossly neglected in the line of fire of the ratings war. I don’t want to watch low lives on TV, I don’t want to watch people getting abused by a celebrity chef, I don’t want to see wife swapping, celebrity dancing, big or small brother, or any other “reality” crap. If it weren’t for SBS and ABC I wouldn’t watch any TV at all.

  6. I forgot to add, TV these days is like nudity, leaves nothing to imagination. What made Monty Python the best was the innuendo, the stuff that was left out and implied as well as the brilliant jokes. I don’t know why but it is all assumed that if the public is served everything, like a liquid breakfast, then they will love it more. It’s like an American movie, where they have to explain everything and you have nothing to do with your brain. What I don’t understand is, why do they assume what works for America should be good enough for everyone else on the planet.

  7. WWW – a wise decision, though it begs the question: if you don’t have a TV, on what do you watch them?

    Jo – if your husband pays for the TV license, then suffers your constant criticism of his program choices, I’m surprised he allows you to watch Dr Who, Torchwood, or Oceans. 😉

    Flimsy – not sure I’d agree about the commercials. Having Tivo it’s so long since I saw one they may have improved. (Naw! Shouldn’t think so!).

    Twilight – the sound clip is reputed to be early Monty Python (hence the usage in this post!) but there’s some doubt about that. Others say, George Carlin – though I agree with you, it isn’t his voice – or even Jack Wagner of Walt Disney Pictures fame (Can’t see it.) Personally, I have a vague recollection of hearing this years ago, and I’m fairly certain its one of the many voices of Michael Palin, but again, research has drawn a blank, so we may never know for sure.

    Gaye – I can only agree with your every word. As for your last sentence, the answer is simple: what works for America is seen by America as good enough for the rest of the planet. That’s why it keeps invading everybody. It wants to spread its ‘goodness’.

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