And Now for Something Completely Different

monty python

And Now for Something Completely Different is a film spin-off from the television comedy series ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ featuring favorite sketches from the first two seasons. The title was used as a catchphrase in the television show. The film, released in 1971, consists of 90 minutes of the best sketches seen in the first two series of the television show. The sketches were remade on film without an audience, and were intended for an American audience which had not yet seen the series. The announcer (John Cleese) uses the phrase ‘and now for something completely different’ several times during the film, in situations such as being roasted on a spit and lying on top of the desk in a small, pink bikini.

This was the Pythons’ first feature film, of sketches re-shot on an extremely low budget (and often slightly edited) for cinema release. Some famous sketches included are: the ‘Dead Parrot’ sketch, ‘The Lumberjack Song,’ ‘Upperclass Twits,’ ‘Hell’s Grannies,’ and the ‘Nudge Nudge’ sketch. Financed by Playboy’s UK executive Victor Lownes, it was intended as a way of breaking Monty Python in America, and although it was ultimately unsuccessful in this, the film did good business in the UK. The group did not consider the film a success, but it enjoys a cult following today.

Lownes tried to exert considerably more control over the group than they had been used to at the BBC. In particular, he objected so strongly to one character – ‘Ken Shabby’ – that the sketch was removed, leaving both Terry Jones and Michael Palin to complain much later that the vast majority of the film was ‘nothing more than jokes behind desks.’ The budget of the film was considerably low for the time at only £80,000. This is self-reflexively acknowledged in the film’s ‘Killer Cars’ animation; the voiceover narration (done by Eric Idle) mentions ‘a scene of such spectacular proportions that it could never in your life be seen in a low-budget film like this. You’ll notice my mouth isn’t moving, either.’

The origin of the title phrase is credited to Christopher Trace, founding presenter of the children’s television program ‘Blue Peter,’ who used it (in all seriousness) as a link between segments. Many of the early episodes of ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ feature a sensible-looking announcer (played by John Cleese) dressed in a black suit and sitting behind a wooden desk, which in turn is in some ridiculous location such as behind the bars of a zoo cage or in mid-air being held aloft by small attached propellers. The announcer would turn to the audience and announce ‘and now for something completely different,’ launching the show’s opening credits starting with the second series of the show.

The phrase was also used as a transition within the show. Often it would be added in order to better explain the transition, for instance, ‘And now for something completely different: a man with a tape recorder up his nose.’ In later episodes, particularly the third season, the credits-launching was reduced to a split-second stock footage of the announcer saying ‘And now…’ in a similar fashion as was done with its predecessor, the ‘It’s’ man, which appears immediately after. Both were preceded by a naked organist, usually Terry Jones.


One Comment to “And Now for Something Completely Different”

  1. he he… you said naked…organist…

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