July 31, 2006

Gratuitous Gumby Observation


Some of Monty Python's best performances were done on record. This includes The Spanish Inquisition, the Oscar Wilde sketch and the Piranha Brothers. Focused in front of microphones, their timing was often superb, their vocal inflections much more rich and the dynamics of the pieces far, far subtler than what they achieved doing these sketches on tee vee.

On the other hand, other bits of their material worked best on film and still others worked best in live performance in front of their television studio audiences. Apart from other considerations, there must be some aspect or aspects of their acting that shows through best in a given medium. And a sketch based on such aspect or aspects naturally would show to its greatest advantage in that medium.

I wonder how one would go about correlating this.

On the other hand, I've always thought their Live At The Hollywood Bowl concert, done as it was on stage in front of an enormous crowd, was pretty uniformely awful.

Posted by Robert at July 31, 2006 12:57 PM | TrackBack

Michael Palin and John Cleese are probably their most "visual" entertainers -- their expressions usually sell the joke as well as the words.

Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman are probably more the "vocal" ones, at least to my mind.

Posted by: The Colossus at July 31, 2006 01:00 PM

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Posted by: rbj at July 31, 2006 02:03 PM

Ah, very astute observations. I'd never thought about their performances in quite this way before. But I had wondered why some things they did seemed to me so hilarious when I listened to them on LP (which I used to borrow from the local library) were not when I saw it on film, and the other way round.

Although to me, Michael Palin is just all around funny - voice, expression, and in writing.

He shines out like a shaft of light when all around is dark. ;-D

Posted by: keysunset at July 31, 2006 02:06 PM

Heh. Be sure, if you haven't already, to check out Palin in Terry Gilliam's Brazil, where he plays a far more sinister character. It's really quite emotionally jarring.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at July 31, 2006 02:15 PM