How Monty Python Freed the Working Class


Arguably the counter-narrative humour of Monty Python peaked in the 1970’s (with its apex observed in the film ‘The Life of Brian’).  In 1948, the incumbent Labour Party – taking its cue from the Soviet Union – instigated a ‘Socialist’ system throughout the UK which included a fully comprehensive (and ‘free’) National Health Service, a Welfare system, council housing, a free Education system, and a foreign policy that often separated (and ‘distinguished’ itself) from marauding US neo-imperialism across the globe.  Britain was self-contained, and operated a ‘Socialist’ system within a a form of highly regulated capitalist economics (not dis-similar to other European States prior to the rise of the European Union).  This describes the socio-economic environment the individual members of Monty Python were born into, and which influenced the direction of their collective humour. Although existing within a regulated capitalist system, (with many of its potential excesses curbed by Socialist institutions and governmental policy), the Monty Python team developed an essentially ‘leftwing’ counter-narrative that continuously ‘de constructed’ the normalised bourgeois attitudes and conventions prevalent amongst the British ruling establishment, and its middle class supporters.  Of course, Monty Python could hardly be described as ‘proletariat’ in origin, but being comprised by White middle class men, it did exhibit that peculiar sense of ‘rebellion’ and ‘revolution’ commonly observed throughout the British working class.  This was the British bourgeoisie criticising itself from within. Many ordinary people have no idea as to the class relationships Monty Python humour appeared to represent, but were happy to settle for the fact that the original sketches remain as funny today as they did in the 1970’s – but Monty Python was far more than a platform for mindless slapstick.  Monty Python humour was highly political in nature, and struck cognitive revolutionary blows at the heart of the British establishment and the capitalist system.  Sometimes this critique was fuelled by Marxist-Leninism, at other times by Kropotkin Anarchism, but the point of the sketches was to free the mind of the those who encountered them.  Monty Python sketches operated from the exposure of the bourgeois ‘inverted’ mind-set, that was ‘funny’ because its illogicality was laid bare for all to see, rather than remaining hidden (and protected) behind limited (and often hypocritical) establishment notions of religion and and politics.  Each sketch presented in isolation a particular bourgeois reality, which was then ruthlessly stripped of its illogicality and observed from the position of ordinary (proletariat) logic.  This is the use of Marxian dialectical analysis applied to the realm of humour.  However, because the bourgeois system is so engrained within the minds of those who inhabit it, many people ‘laugh’ at Monty Python sketches, but have no idea why.  Others of a more developed or evolved disposition, are immediately ‘freed’, and understand exactly what they have just experienced.  If Monty Python had existed within the Soviet Union, the capitalist West would have accused it of being a sinister ‘Red’ plot, designed to brain-wash the Western working class.  In this regard, Monty Python served a very important revolutionary service by freeing the minds of the working class through humour.  An example of this ability (amongst many) is the sketch entitled ‘Philosopher Football’:

‘There’s Archimedes, and I think he’s had an idea! “Eureka!” Archimedes, out to Socrates. Socrates back to Archimedes. Archimedes out to Heraclitus who beats Hegel. Heraclitus a little flick. Here he comes, on the far post. Socrates is there! Socrates heads it in! Socrates has scored! The Greeks are going mad! The Greeks are going mad! Socrates scores! But a beautiful cross from Archimedes. The Germans are disputing it! Hegel is arguing that the reality is merely an a priori adjunct of non-naturalistic ethics. Kant, via the categorical imperative, is holding that ontologic exists only in the imagination, and Marx is claiming that it was offside.’



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