Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"My All-Time Favorite Monty Python Sketch"

I mentioned recently that my favorite Monty Python sketch – I actually called it “sublime” – is “Argument”, or as they call it on YouTube, “The Argument Clinic.” With the available technology at my disposal, it occurred to me – I actually heard my “Inner Voice” turn a Cockney kind of British and say,

“‘old ohn, then. I can blah-ee shaw it to ‘em, I can.”

Which is exactly what I’m about to do.

When selecting a favorite, there are a lot of classic Python sketches to choose from. “The Dead Parrot” and “The World’s Funniest Joke” rank way up on my list. Bu if I had a gun to my head, and someone said, “Your favorite Python sketch!” I would have to say “Argument.” And also, “Please take that gun away from my head. It could accidentally go off. And besides, would you really shoot me if refused to respond? That’s blah-ee demen’ed, that is.” (There’s that Cockney guy again.

The reason I rate “Argument” Number One is because it contains the comedic elements I most admire and am most personally tickled by. “Argument” is smart and silly at the same time. And it’s also brilliantly satirical, poking fun at the compulsively orderly way in which the British go about their business.

Smart, silly and satirical. The three “S’s” of comedy. You can’t get much be’a than ‘at, ahm afride. (I cahn’t seem to shike ‘im. Good Lord, he’s infiltrated the brackets.)

Here’s the idea. A man goes to a clinic where, in some bizarre idea of personal amusement, you pay money to engage in an argument with a trained professional.

As I mentioned when I discussed “writing silly”, when doing so, it is essential to remain scrupulously logical within the context of the silly world you are dealing with, which “Argument” delightfully does. Except in one instance.

See if you can detect what that is.

And now, nitpicking aside, please enjoy


We start with a man walking into an office, anticipating that his unique little pleasure will be adequately satisfied.



Zaraya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zaraya said...

Dear Mr. Pomerantz; unless he paid the receptionist he didn't pay for his first argument, and if he did pay them shouldn't that be where he goes to pay again? They skip over the means of payment to make it run along without a set change, and it's done so quickly that you hardly notice. It's very silly.

Michael Sarah Palin said...

Hard to believe anyone likes that crap! A matter of taste, I know.

Earl Pomerantz said...

Zaraya spotted it straight away. The guy didn't pay for his first argument. There was no reason for him not to have. They could have handled the transaction off the top, quickly,maybe just a perfunctory "Thank you" when the Pro Arguer pocketed the money. I have no idea why they didn't do that. Mr. Cleese, if you're reading this, perhaps you could illuminate us.

Max Clarke said...

A great skit, a worthy Number One.

I like the apparent mistake in the skit, the unpaid payment. The argument goes so fast, it's almost as if they intended to slip it past us. Would anybody catch it if they got the verbal fight going? This was an unauthorized argument. No it wasn't.

It reminds me of the movie Citizen Kane. How did they know Kane's last words if nobody was there to hear them? Makes you wonder if that was their intent all along, to base the movie upon something most moviegoers would never spot.

Similar as well to the movie The Hudsucker Proxy, by the Coen Brothers. Tim Robbins visits Paul Newman to give him an infamous Blue Letter, but with all the fireworks that occur in the office, the Blue Letter is forgotten till the end of the movie.

Zaraya, nevertheless, what sharp mental eyes you have. I didn't catch it.

Zaraya said...

Eeep, no Wednesday post @0400. I need my fix now, man, NOW! I suspeect that Mr. Pomerantz is just cooking up some technical wizardry except the technical is fighting back. Looking forward to whatever he's written for today.


Mac said...

I didn't notice the extra money thing, but it makes sense now you say it. For fans of La Pythons, they're making an animated movie of Graham Chapman's life-story. Should be interesting.

Hieronymous said...

Also, the receptionist asked if he wanted a 5-minute argument or a course of ten, but the Arguer speaks of a "full half hour". So they didn't work out all the details of how the clinic works before they filmed it.

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