If You Like Monty Python…
by by Zack Handlen
Reviewed by Jared Scott Stroup
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One of the wonderful things about Limelight’s If You Like… series is that they’re exactly what they should be: they’re written with the enthusiasm of a friend recommendation, with the research instincts of a journalist. A.V. Club writer Zack Handlen is your friendly guide through the influences on and of Monty Python in the latest installment called If You Like Monty Python…
Monty Python is one of those comedy troupes that’s so original and distinct that their influences are imprinted into the subconscious of the many pairs of eyes that experience them. The same impression was laid onto the creative and cultured members that make up that legendary troupe, and, though you could do some guesswork, it’s easy to wonder where exactly did Monty Python come from? Handlen attempts to answer this in an amusing and informative way. He then proceeds to follow through on that and illustrate what an oddball group of minds can do to the future of their genre, having caused a ripple effect of Beatles’ proportions.
The timeline of the book is chronological, starting with a pre-Python world, and moving through them and into the post-Python present. Some expected titles and names are covered—the Marx Brothers, Dr. Strangelove, Peter Sellers, and so on as influences, and The Simpsons, Saturday Night Live, Mel Brooks, and so on as part of the ripple effect—but treading through the usuals is necessary for accuracy. Some more obscure titles and names make an appearance to perk the interest of the overly familiar student of comedy, and a proper mosaic of popular and fringe selections is formed as the core of the book. There’s also a useful guide to the works that the individual Python members did outside the troupe, including some titles that may have slipped under the most ardent fan’s radar.
At 156 pages, it’s a breeze to read and an easy resource to return to. It’s mostly introductory in its information, but there’s enough to give the reader precendence to seek out the recommendations, and this crash course in absurdity will undoubtedly result in a richer apprecation of the oft-quoted and oft-seen works of the Monty Python crew.
The Limelight Edition is now available from Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group
Jared Scott Stroup is a Film Studies Major at Eastern Michigan University. He lives, works, and studies in the Detroit area, where he’s involved in theatre and stand-up comedy.
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