Favorite Non-Fiction Books, #45: The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus All the Words
I'm going to consider this two-volume set as non-fiction as it's essentially the historic documentation of the most original, scathingly funny sketch comedy the world has ever known. The scripts for all forty-five of the landmark broadcast shows are here, rendering magical absurdist perfection into sterile agate. And yet the hilarity is still there, sometimes even richer because the stately and permanent nature of print allows the reader to digest every word and supplement the viewer's memory. Some jokes finally come into full bloom in ways that slipped past even multiple showings. Making a Nazi cross, Dimmesdale, spam, pining for the fjords - all the classics at your fingertips. If the Holy Grail film was the apotheosis of the Python troupe, then here is the delightful long marination of collaborative comedic brilliance.
What the Beatles were to rock music, the Pythons were to comedy. They changed the rules of style, of structure, of content, of sensibility. Without the Pythons, there's probably no Saturday Night Live, no In Living Color, no Kids in the Hall, no Mad TV. Cleese, Chapman, Palin, Idle, Gilliam, Jones. These guys were the gold standard. And their stuff is still funny fifty years later.