Monty Python Peter Reilly - Essay

Peter Reilly

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

That motley crew, Monty Python's Flying Circus, is up to their squalid, sordid little tricks in another hilariously funny album [Monty Python: Live! At City Center]…. While some of the best lines are overlapped by audience laughter, there is enough classic Pythonomania intact to make it required listening. My all-time favorite is included: The Death of Mary Queen of Scots, a pseudo-BBC radio drama introduced by one of those appallingly jaunty, Britannic airs…. It opens with an inquiry as to whether the lady is indeed Mary, Queen of Scots, and, when the reply is in a heavily burred affirmative, the next minute or so is spent on the noisiest sound effects heard since World War II to indicate Mary's dispatch. After a brief silence one of her assaulters comments, "She must be dead." "Oh no, I'm not!" is her game retort, and the noises continue into fadeout. This is Episode Two of the serial, and to me represents the specially endearing looniness of the Python style: the mere thought of a supposed audience sitting down week after week in front of the "wireless" to hear Mary being pursued around her castle by what sounds like half of the English army, exchanging wise nods with each other as sound effect piles upon sound effect, is to me what makes Python as incisive about mocking the English character as anyone since [George Bernard] Shaw. (pp. 110-11)

Peter Reilly, "Recording of Special Merit: 'Monty Python: Live! At City Center'," in Stereo Review (copyright © 1976 by Ziff-Davis Publishing Company), Vol. 37, No. 4, October, 1976, pp. 110-11.