Almost the entirety of the classic, crazy comedy troupe’s substantial oeuvre will be streamable.
I remember the moment I was first introduced to Monty Python like it was yesterday. I was in elementary school at the house of one of my closest friends for a sleepover. When it came time to choose a movie to watch, she pulled out Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I had never heard of the film, but I was rolling on the floor with laughter before those famous opening credits and their silly Swedish subtitles had even finished rolling.
From that night, I couldn’t get enough. I devoured the entire DVD box set of the troupe’s classic television show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, I practiced my best silly walk, and I memorized all of the lines from sketches like”The Spanish Inquisition,” which friends and I performed in costume in its entirety one Halloween in high school (we even subjected our favorite biology teacher to the torture of the comfy chair and the soft cushions). I watched all of the other films, read their giant coffee table book, and went to see the musical Spamalot with the same friend who first introduced me to the Pythons. Their insanely bizarre and creative comedy, including Terry Gilliam’s wacky collage-style animations, even led me to study TV production abroad at the BBC for a semester in college.
I cannot overstate how much Monty Python have influenced me as a filmmaker and a person. And I’m not the only one: from Martin Short, who praised how they proved that “absurdity in character could replace the punchline” of a sketch, to Matt Groening, who perfectly described their unique brand of British humor as “whimsical surrealism with just a hint of cruelty.” The Pythons were almost anarchic in the way they approached comedy, and that freewheeling attitude never ceases to inspire me. So, even though I already own the majority of their catalog on DVD, I jumped for joy to learn that almost all of Monty Python’s work will soon be available for streaming on Netflix.
The package deal includes the entirety of Flying Circus, most of the films, the German TV specials Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus, and several reunion specials, including 2014’s Monty Python Live (mostly): One Down, Five To Go, recorded live in London. Missing is Monty Python and the Meaning of Life, though a live anniversary special honoring the film is included. Combined with the news that Netflix may partner with members of the Pythons to create original content as well, this deal is a veritable treasure trove for comedy nerds around the world. Those of us who grew up loving the Pythons will be able to easily revisit our favorite films and sketches, while a whole new generation of streamers will be able to encounter the Pythons for the first time.
Monty Python’s comedy was already decades old when my introduction came in the 1990s, but it will still absolutely hilarious to me and all of my friends. Will the audiences of the new millennium still appreciate their work? I cannot imagine why not. After all, the Pythons never relied too heavily on topical pop culture references; instead, they let their deranged imaginations run wild to produce classic, endlessly quotable comedy. Because of this, their work remains timeless. You don’t need to be a British person who came of age in the 1960s to enjoy the absurdity of the “Dead Parrot Sketch” or the giddy glee of “The Lumberjack Song.”
Netflix will begin streaming its Monty Python content in the UK, Canada, and some other territories on April 15; the date of the US release is currently unknown but expected to be later this year. I hope it leads to many more young people obsessively performing their skits on the playground and going on to write their own weird comedy, as I did. We could all use a little Monty Python magic in 2018.