Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Monty Python and the Modern World

Perhaps the Brits have the most interesting take on the world in which we live. And now for something completely different:

I just figured out what makes Monty Python so much better than any other light comedy. How sad it is! Beneath all the silly absurdity there is a deep, brooding sadness. What makes all the stupid jokes and acts funny is that it is so self-conscious. An idiotic joke is told and immediately it is ridiculed for its idiocy, then the ridiculer is himself revealed as another bad joke. The show becomes fluid as one skit flows into another, as the characters try to escape each ridiculous skit looking for one that is finally funny, but none of them ever work. The result is hilarious. They make fun of their own inability to make anything really funny. It is like watching an obese person make fat jokes; you laugh even harder because of how pitiful it is. You laugh because you are embarrassed.

Monty Python is the ultimate modern comedy. Ancient Comedies ended with joy and celebration. Monty Python mocks the whole idea of joy. It mocks the idea that a man could be whole or wise.

I had previously tried to explain my deep appreciation for Monty Python humor by saying that it is good satire. The problem is that it isn't good satire. (Anyway I couldn't figure out how satire that mostly focused on British society before my birth would be my favorite comedy.) Satire is never as funny as this. Satire has hope. Satire takes the moral high ground as it laughs at the wrongs of the world. Monty Python is a satire of a satire of a satire ...an endless labyrinth of ridicule. They may laugh at the world but not from a vantage point of wisdom. These modernists are most acutely aware they have no access to wisdom. They demonstrate the absurdity of the world, then they laugh at the absurdity of their own demonstration. In the end the joke is on you. You laugh at yourself. You laugh at the absurdity of yourself. You don't laugh because you are happy; you laugh because you are self-conscious.

Monty Python is more than simple comedy. It is a visual demonstration of the philosophies of despair. Generations before last century wouldn't have understood or laughed. We laughed harder than our parents. Most likely future generations will laugh deeper than us. They may laugh so hard that they cry.

*For more Monty Python you really should see The Spanish Inquisition Show, The Silliest Sketch Ever, or the Philosophy World Cup.

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