Monty Python’s Flying Circus – Series One, Episode Five – Man’s crisis of identity in the latter half of the twentieth century

confuse a cat

The long opening sketch, Confuse a Cat, seems to be an excuse for a sequence of frankly bizarre images, such as a penguin on a pogo stick (not a sentence that tends to get typed very often!).

Before this though, Graham Chapman’s vet is able to put his finger exactly on the cat’s problem.

You see …. your cat is suffering from what we vets haven’t found a word for. His condition is typified by total physical inertia, absence of interest in its ambiance – what we Vets call environment – failure to respond to the conventional external stimuli – a ball of string, a nice juicy mouse, a bird. To be blunt, your cat is in a rut. It’s the old stockbroker syndrome, the suburban fin de siecle ennui, angst, weltschmertz, call it what you will.

The rest of the episode contains shorter sketches linked by a series of vox-pops.  The Cleese/Palin sketch with Palin as the world’s most inept smuggler and Cleese as the customs officer is probably the best of the bunch, although as it features a punch-line it feels a little out of place as a Python sketch.  Possibly, like some of the other early sketches, it predated the series?

After this, Terry Jones attempts to chair a discussion on the points raised with a duck, a cat and a lizard.  Since all are stuffed, this doesn’t generate a great deal of debate.  Luckily though, there are plenty of men in the street who are able to offer an opinion, such as this stockbroker (played by John Cleese).

Well I think they should attack the lower classes, first with bombs and rockets, destroying their homes and then when they run helpless into the streets, mowing them down with machine guns. Ad then of course releasing the vultures. I know these views aren’t popular, but I have never courted popularity.

A Cleese/Chapman sketch featuring Cleese as a bizarre interviewer and Chapman as a bewildered interviewee doesn’t really go anywhere – there would be better examples of the domineering Cleese to come in future episodes.

Like a lot of Man’s crisis etc, the Encyclopedia Salesman sketch is a throwaway, but I’ve always rather liked it.

Next up – Episode Six – It’s The Arts

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