Very silly party politics : surrealism and satire in the ‘Pythonesque’

Wilkie, I ORCID: 2019, 'Very silly party politics : surrealism and satire in the ‘Pythonesque’' , Comedy Studies, 10 (2) , pp. 213-223.

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2019 sees the 50th anniversary of the iconic British television comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus (BBC: 1969-74). This article focuses on the concept of ‘Pythonesque’, placing the broadly political satirical content that is evident within the Pythons’ mainstream TV work and in selected subsequent film work at the centre of the notion of ‘Pythonesque’. It will be suggested, moreover, that the Pythons’ socio-cultural critical position is embedded in a long established British literary satirical tradition. Further, this article will aim to show that ‘Pythonesque’ incongruity, whilst adopting the aesthetic of the nihilistic cabaret of the Dadaists, was further influenced by the contemporary strain of British vernacular surrealism that permeated twentieth century popular performance through Music Hall, Variety comedy and The Goons, and also borrows Surrealist satirical perspectives. This evaluation of ‘Pythonesque’ fusion of satirical and surreal elements will posit that the comedians were simultaneously behind the times; of their time; and, in their prescience, some ways ahead of their time in their construction of humorous commentary on British societal mores and their vividly underscoring of the absurdity of the institutions they targeted.

Key Words: Monty Python, Satire, Surrealism, Comedy, ‘Pythonesque’

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media > Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Comedy Studies
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 2040-610X
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Dr I Wilkie
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 09:11
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 02:04

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