Sunday, March 02, 2008


U.S. elections: a most Pythonesque endeavour

For some light Sunday bloggery, we spend today having a look at the United States presidential race — and I’m thinking particularly about the primary election process. It’s a strange trip, yes, truly a strange trip, as I’ve noted here before, and the only sensible comparison I can make involves one of my favourite bits of Monty Python humour. And so, I give you this, from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and I leave it as an exercise for the reader how this relates to what we’ve been trying to do here for the last, oh, 18 months, give or take.

Woman: Order, eh, ’oo does he think he is? Hmph.

Arthur: I am your king!

Woman: Well, I didn’t vote for you.

Arthur: You don’t vote for kings.

Woman: Well, ’ow d’you become king then?

Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. That is why I’m your king!

Dennis: Listen... strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

Arthur: Be quiet!

Dennis: But you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just ’cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!

Arthur: Shut up!

Dennis: I mean, if I went ’round sayin’ I was an empereror just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they’d put me away!

Arthur: Shut up! Will you shut up!

[scuffling ensues]


Thomas J. Brown said...

Arthur: Old woman!

Dennis: Man.

Arthur: Man, sorry. What knight lives in that castle over there?

Dennis: I'm 37.

Arthur: I– What?

Dennis: I'm 37, I'm not old.

Arthur: Well I can't just call you, "man."

Dennis: You could say Dennis.

Arthur: Well I didn't know you were called Dennis.

Dennis: Well you didn't bother to find out did you?

Arthur: I did say sorry about the, "old woman," but from behind you looked–

Dennis: What I object to is that you automatically treat me like an inferior.

Arthur: Well I am king.

Dennis: Oh king, eh? Very nice. And how'd you get eh?


Is it extra sad that I just typed that all out from memory?

D said...

Not a comment on your blog, per se, but certainly a note of how things have changed...

I happened to be reading the other day about historical events that happened on Leap Day, and on Feb. 29, 1956, incumbent President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced that he would be running for a second term. That means that they were just starting the election race, and here in 2008, the nominations are all but wrapped up!

Julietta said...

"Watery tart?" "Moistened bint?" And in a subsequent blog you're talking about feminism and gender-neutral language? Ahem.

Barry Leiba said...

I'm, uh, just quoting the divine Monty Python. Isn't that like quoting, like, the Bible, or something?

Julietta said...

You're an atheist. I doubt you'd be quoting the Bible. Nice try, dude. ;-)

lidija said...

What is it with male geeks* and Monty Python. I have to say it is a cultural difference. I mean, I like it, but not as much as some guys I've known. All guys. An honest question.

* I am a female geek. Really.

lidija said...

And, yes, alright, you are making a worthy point about the primaries though it pains me to admit. It depresses me, actually. For a number of reasons.

Barry Leiba said...

I don't know; I always thought it was a question not of sex, but of whether one liked British humour (which is decidedly different to American humour). I do know women who like Monty Python as much as I do.

(Now, Benny Hill, that's British humour that few women like. But, then, I don't much like him either. Most of the jokes are sexist.)

lidija said...

Benny Hill's awful. And I grew up with British TV. Perhaps I just haven't met enough people who like Monty Python to make such a statement (like above) after all.

Thomas J. Brown said...

I also know women who really like Monty Python, but that number is admittedly fewer than the number of men I know who like it.

You're right about British humor being rather different from American. A friend and I were watching Faulty Towers and rolling on the floor with laughter, while a third friend never even cracked a smile (and left after the first episode was over).

I've noticed that most Americans don't really appreciate farce. Every once in a while we get a T.V. show with farcical humor that does well (such as Frasier), but overall, Americans just don't seem to like it.

Farce certainly isn't the only difference between British and American comedy, but it's quite a noticeable one.