|Always Look On the Bright Side of Life|
March 5, 2001
There is always a problem about discussion comedy or humour. The purpose of comedy and humour is to be funny, it becomes confusing when you want to deal with it and be serious.
So rather than be analytical and at the same time not attempt to be humourous ourselves, we need to consider one of the most remarkable instances of outlandish comedy of all time.
The British comedy troupe, Monty Python's Flying Circus first appeared on our Canadian television screens
|in the very early seventies. Much of what went on in the|
show was beyond Canadians as we simply did
not live in the context that the comedians did or that of their intended British audience. However, good comedy transcends timely and regional topics and hits everyone's funny bone because it seems to relate to the very nature of human beings.
Mel Brooks and Karl Reiner took us into the things that made them laugh when they created "the 1,000 year old man" sketches and later in his movie, the "History of the World Part One" Brooks shared with us the anguish of the most distressing periods in human history. At times the movie makes it views uncomfortable because it strikes so close to such important issues as the holocaust
The reason I mention this is so that we can appreciate the need for comedians to express the serious issues of life
|and do so in their own special and funny way. The movie|
Life of Brian" walks right up and deals with the basis
of Christianity and that meant they would have to deal with the crucifixion The Monty Python group did their writing as a group tossing out ideas and agreeing upon what would make a funny or silly sketch. It had been decided to do a song and dance from the crosses. It was Eric Idle who wrote the little ditty that they used and you would have heard as you went to this page.
It was just a joke, it was to be funny and yet fit the situation they were dealing with. What made this song significant is what happened with it, long after it had been used in the movie and when most people thought it had been long forgotten. During a soccer game in which the home team had just lost the fans began singing the song. This was repeated at several games and became something of a tradition. So much so that years after the movie had
|been released Eric recorded the song and released it as a|
it did well on the pop charts, simply because it
had become a "folk song".
This doesn't happen very often, occasionally a screen writer will write a neat line that people will quote and it will run its course in popular culture, more often this is a phrase rather than a line, but for a whole song to be picked up and used, this is pretty special.
Be it Shakespeare, Woody Allen, Karl Reiner or Josh Weldon, when a good line is remembered and used out of context you know it must have hit the spot in the culture, the evolving amorphous that wafts through our language and shared experiences. "Make my day" mumbled by the character Harry Calihan has a life entirely of its own. So
|does the line Tom Cruise says through a grin in "Top|
when he says, "Its classified, I could tell you, but
then I'd have to kill yeah." Great lines almost all have a bite to them, that's why they are great lines.
"I love the smell of napalm in the morning, it has a smell of victory."
"My mother told me I could either be clever or pleasant, for thirty-five years I have been clever now I am just concentrating on being pleasant."
"Here's lookin' at you kid."
"Frankly Miss Scarlet, I don't give a damn."