Monty Python’s 10 Best Fourth Wall Breaks | ScreenRant – Screen Rant

Posted: September 28, 2020 at 11:56 pm


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Monty Python were famous for their groundbreaking comedy and unique twists on the sketch format, which included breaking the fourth wall.

The six members of Monty Pythons troupe came together from various facets of the British comedy industry of the 1960s with a shared desire to break down all of televisions rules with a no-holds-barred comic sensibility. In most of the teams projects, from Monty Pythons Flying Circus to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the fourth wall got regularly broken.

RELATED:Monty Python: 5 Reasons Why Holy Grail Is Their Best Film (& 5 Why Life Of Brian is A Close Second)

As a result, some of the funniest sketches and moments from the Pythons storied history involve a certain element of self-awareness. But theres a difference between a subtle nod to the audience and an all-out attack on the artifice of film and television.

Almost every episode of Monty Pythons Flying Circus began with a fourth wall-breaking moment in which the Its man, played by Michael Palin, would rush up to the camera from afar and tell the camera, Its... before the theme tune kicked in and the opening titles began.

This was a brilliant way to keep each episode fresh right off the bat and made an iconic character out of just one word. Any time Python fans see the Its man, it puts a smile on their face.

The Colonel, played by Graham Chapman, would barge into a sketch whenever he felt it was getting too silly in order to put a stop to it.

Since the Pythons humor was specifically built on silliness, he found plenty of opportunities to step in and police the absurdity.

During the Castle Anthrax scene in which 150 young women tempt Sir Galahad the Pure, Dingo looks at the camera and asks, Do you think this scene should have been cut? and compares it to the others.

The characters from previous scenes defend their own moments, then the characters whose scenes havent appeared yet tell them to get on with it. Its next-level meta.

In the Architects Sketch, the Pythons lampooned the Freemasons with one architect launching into a tirade against the fabled organization and a second architect doing a weird Masonic handshake. The first architect breaks the fourth wall by reappearing and saying to the camera, It opens doors, Im telling you.

RELATED:The 10 Best Monty Python's Flying Circus Skits & Sketches, Ranked

The sketch also breaks the fourth wall during the small-scale recreation of the then-recent Ronan Point fire when a large on-screen disclaimer reads: SATIRE.

Due to its loose structure and unusually dark tone, The Meaning of Life is considered to be the lesser cousin of Holy Grail and Life of Brian, but its wildly unpredictable and features some of the Pythons most beloved sketches, like Every Sperm is Sacred.

At the movies midpoint, the Zulu sketch is interrupted by a character welcoming the audience to The Middle of the Film. This deviates into a surreal segment entitled Find the Fish.

When King Arthur and his party are escorted into a cave by Brother Maynard, they find an inscription by Joseph of Arimathea that sends them to Castle Aarrgh.

Suddenly, Brother Maynard is eaten by a cave monster that chases the knights. Fortunately, the knights are saved when the animator controlling the cave monster has a heart attack and dies.

The ending of Life of Brian is perfect, with all the story threads being tied up while Brian is nailed to a cross and about to be wrongfully crucified. Then, Eric Idle starts singing Always Look on the Bright Side of Life and all the prisoners awaiting execution join in.

When the song is in full swing, Idle takes a second to break the fourth wall, singing, Its the end of the film / Incidentally, this records available in the foyer!

Throughout the whole of The Meaning of Life, the Pythons promise that they will reveal the actual meaning of life. However, it isnt revealed until the very end and, in true Python fashion, it comically fails to live up to the hype.

RELATED:Monty Python: 10 Reasons The Meaning Of Life Is An Underrated Gem

In the movies epilogue, the host from The Middle of the Film sketch anticlimactically reveals the meaning of life, saying its nothing very special.

When they decided to give their first narrative film the loose structure of King Arthurs quest to find the Holy Grail, the Pythons thought it would be funny to end the movie on an anticlimactic note with Arthur never actually finding the Grail.

Just as Arthur and his soldiers prepare to storm the castle and seize the Grail, the police investigating the completely unrelated murder of the historian who got killed early in the movie pull up in anachronistic vehicles. They arrest the king and shut off the camera, ending the movie on a hilariously absurd note.

The biggest revolution in Monty Pythons Flying Circus was its lack of punchlines. Punchlines for sketches rarely land, because the whole sketch has to be summed up in a single joke and thats tough to do in a satisfying way, so the Pythons didnt use them. Instead, whenever a sketch ran out of steam, they simply segued into the next one.

One of these segues involved John Cleese as a BBC announcer, wearing a suit and sitting behind a desk (whether he was in a broadcasting station or on a beach), who uttered the immortal catchphrase, And now for something completely different.

NEXT:Monty Python's 10 Funniest Movie Parodies, Ranked

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Ben Sherlock is a writer, comedian, and independent filmmaker, and he's good at at least two of those things. In addition to writing for Screen Rant and Comic Book Resources, covering everything from Scorsese to Spider-Man, Ben directs independent films and does standup comedy. He's currently in pre-production on his first feature film, Hunting Trip, and has been for a while because filmmaking is expensive. Previously, he wrote for Taste of Cinema and BabbleTop.

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September 28th, 2020 at 11:56 pm

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