The Best ‘Saturday Night Live’ Sketches Starring Monty Python Members
The influence of Monty Python’s brand of anarchic sketch comedy on Saturday Night Live was evident from the jump. Lorne Michaels once called Python “a revelation,” and, notably, he first discovered Chevy Chase while literally waiting in line to see Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
This obviously explains why so many of the Pythons have popped by SNL over the years, either to host the show or just to make a brief cameo because of some new project they were desperately trying to promote. We’ve rounded up some of the best sketches to come out of those appearances, including…
Michel Palin, ‘Name the Bats’
Palin hosted Saturday Night Live four times, including once with his mother:
One of the most Python-esque sketches he ever starred in on SNL was “Name the Bats,” in which he plays the host of a game show of the same name, which just involves locking people in a barn and forcing the terrified contestants to assign names to the bats inside. The fact that the set’s barn door falls apart the moment Palin starts violently hammering at it with a baseball bat only makes the whole thing funnier.
Graham Chapman, ‘Weekend Update’
The film version of the benefit concert The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball (with Pythons John Cleese, Palin and Terry Jones) advertised itself in the U.S. with a short commercial featuring Chapman, seated at a desk in front of a large American flag, pretending to be the “head of the Oral Majority.” He claims to be outraged at the “odious” new movie, and at the end of the ad, he stands, revealing that he’s wearing a pink tutu and stockings.
In response to a minor controversy in which an NBC station refused to air the ad, Chapman stopped by Weekend Update to make amends, telling the audience, “If I’ve done anything at all to defame the American flag, I’m sorry, and I apologize,” before rising to show off another pair of stockings along with stars and stripes-themed panties.
Eric Idle, ‘Shoe Store’
In a sketch that easily could have been plucked from a Flying Circus episode, host Idle plays an aloof shoe store employee who frustrates a customer (Bill Murray) with his absurd sales techniques. He refuses to admit they carry brown footwear, will only sell one shoe at a time, and has a back room full of random women giving out free kisses. While not as strong as similar Python routines like “Cheese Shop” or “Travel Agent,” it’s still pretty hilarious.
John Cleese, ‘New Rating System’
For some reason, Cleese never hosted SNL, but he did appear along with Palin in a 1997 episode hosted by (shudder) Kevin Spacey. Cleese and Palin opened the show with a great sketch outlining the new TV rating system, including ratings such as “CLSP” (sketch may include car shaped like penis) and “SMMP” (show features senile members of Monty Python).
They returned later in the episode for some routine about an injured cockatoo or something.
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