Monty Python's Saturday Night Circus


A couple weeks ago I posted a review of the season one episode hosted by Dudley Moore and Peter Cook. In that review, I pointed out how British humor didn't always hit the mark when it came to my taste in humor, especially at the time I was discovering these shows. I think my problem was actually with the acts that took extra pride in how dry their wit can get.  

Now I have to admit, I didn't really discover Monty Python until much later in life. I think I linked them to the drier side of British humor because I only found the flying circus on PBS which was a boring channel to me once I outgrew Mr. Rodgers and before I discovered my of Nova my senior year of high school which opened up my tolerance to test other shows on the station.

This was also around the same time that I got more interested in surreal takes on obscure references to the Flying Circus was a perfect fit. I don't think I was alone in my hesitant relationship with British humor, so I don't think this episode got much airtime in the rotation of repeats. This is why I don't think I've ever seen this episode which made this viewing it an extra special treat. 

I loved how this episode felt more like a Flying Circus Special featuring American guest over being an SNL episode hosted by the star of another show. It was amazing how there were several threads that ran through the show, making each individual sketch an actual piece to a much bigger show. 

Whether it was the fact that each sketch had the same song snuck into it at one point or another or characters were referenced from entirely different scenes, it felt like you had to stay on your toes during this installment to make sure you caught all the jokes.

I'm kind of surprised that they didn't stick to this style more, but I guess that's not the American way. Now that I've broken down my thoughts on the show, it's time to share what I saw, as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. They continue to cover the fact that Chevy is gone by having Richard Belzer play him hosting the news. Chase then calls in to try and get Belzer to admit that he is not him. This goes back and forth until the picture of Chevy that's supposed to be evidence of Belzer's identity lie falls off the desk and once again Chevy announces "Live From New York," over the phone.

  2. Eric Idle opens the show with his horrible rendition of Here Comes the Sun. He's quickly interrupted by Jane Curtin who drags him into the first sketch in a very surreal way.

  3. As Jane Curtin explains that he can sing at the end of the show, Idle starts putting on a doctor's lab coat and falls into a sketch where he plays a doctor that customizes babies giving all sorts of crazy options to the parents. Who seem reluctant but play along.

  4. Next, we jump to Aykroyd who is playing a Morning Radio DJ broadcasting on both AM and FM and jumps back and forth between being a crazy morning zoo DJ when switched to AM mode and some stoner hipster when switched to FM.

  5. This transitions into a sketch about Swine Flu shots where the Killer Bees enter to save their deadly amigo flu bug. They are then thwarted when the girls realize the Idle Bee is British not South American like a Killer Bee should be.

  6. Eric Idle tries to play Here Comes the Sun one more time only to be interrupted to introduce the musical guest.

  7. Joe Cocker comes out and sings You Are So Beautiful to Me.

  8. Gilda as Barbara Walters says her goodbye to NBC.

  9. Then Jane Curtin returns as the head news anchor once again and again, I like the way she delivers the news much more than Chase.

  10. The news’s commercial was a fake ad for Epifix, which I guess was a fast acting injection that claimed to cure headaches. I'm guessing that the EpiPen was new at the time?

  11. The news returns with a shocking story of a comic book character that was born out of wedlock. The news then ends with a real quick bit in reference to a played out Johnny Carson clip of an ax throw "gone wrong."

  12. Loren Michaels then comes out to explain how Eric Idle offered up the Beatles only to rip him off by sending in a video of The Rutles, Eric Idle's Beatle's parody band.

  13. This is followed by a music video for The Rutles song, It Must Be Love that ended with a quick mockumentary segment about the band.

  14. Next was a Cabaret sketch with a room full of Nazis and a couple spies. First, the spies take forever to get through their code word, then once they work out that they are talking to the right person they jump in and out of accent depending on whether or not the barmaid is in earshot. The sketch ended in confusion as the accents flip, and they yell out their plans to kill Hitler so that everyone in the crowd can hear.

  15. Eric Idle then plays an Australian singer trying to start a song about Rover the Dover. Once again the cast stops him to introduce the next real song.

  16. Joe Cocker then sings Feelin' Alright and is join by Belushi Cocker who sings along.

  17. This was followed by a Dragnet sketch which was interesting being that Aykroyd later went on to play the same character in a non-parody role. Anyways, it was DRAGnet where all the cops were in drag. This went on for a bit until Belushi breaks the scene to point out that drag doesn't work in America. They give up on the scene and cut to a short film.

  18. The short film actually picks up where we left off, and there is a DRAG race between Idle and Aykroyd both running in drag.

  19. The band Stuff then performs Foots.

  20. This is followed by a Jacques Cousteau sketch with a toy submarine in a fish tank, that jumped into a how to care for pets video where Idle shows the viewers how to feed said fish from said fish tank, giving them chicken, soup and all sorts of other human foods by just throwing everything in the tank. I started to feel bad for the fish, then they cut back to the Cousteau sketch where he makes a statement on pollution, still in the filthy tank.

  21. Garrett Morris then plays Ken Norton complaining about his latest fight, which then leads to Morris singing opera as Norton for no real reason.

  22. This led to a sketch called Cufflinks of the Gods which was a parody of Von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods. It was pretty much Ancient Aliens but about modern jokes in ancient times, many focusing on the "Take my wife," line of humor.

  23. This was followed by the return of the Pong sketch where one of the players discusses math to his idiot friend.

  24. Finally, Eric Idle was allowed to sing his full song before saying good night.

They crammed quite a lot of content in the same amount of time, but I still have my favorites, and here they are. First, I really really liked the Cufflinks of the Gods due to my obsession with Ancient Aliens and how it ended up on the History Channel. Next, I liked the Drag Racing sketch because I've recently become a big fan of the RuPaul show which shares the name. Finally, I liked the Killer Bee sketch because there were almost three sketches in one and I liked them all.


Watch More From Eric Idle:

Hear More From Joe Cocker And Stuff:


Matt Bunker

I started out with a goal of becoming a paid screenwriter. I had no interest in any other aspect of filmmaking. I received and scholarship to The Vancouver Film School's Writing for Film and Television program where I graduated in 2005. I fell in love with being on set during my first non-school produced short, . I loved being around all the creative people, seeing people having fun while working. The whole liking your job was a new world to me, so I decided to give it a shot. I volunteered for any project I could, doing what ever was needed. The set was my Film School this time. While working as a PA on a feature I was informed that the DP wanted the three tallest PAs to help out in the grip and electric department. That is when I found the department that felt like the best fit for me while I continued to write.