Pythonism is a religion which considers the work of British comedy troupe Monty Python to be holy writ, or at least, wholly wit. It is not meant to be taken seriously, except when it is actually serious. In which case, it is a very serious thing indeed. Or, as serious as comedy can be, anyway.
If one were to distill the works of Monty Python into one sentence, that sentence would probably be, “What’s all this, then?” In taking a bird’s eye view of human culture, cataloging its much ado about nothing and laying bare the mountains of hypocrisy and poor judgment, Monty Python provided a refreshing tonic to the seriousness inherent in all the world’s ISMs: religion, politics, social expectations, self-righteousness and more. From their take-down of religion in The Life of Brian, to their criticism of politics in The Holy Grail, to their scattershot attempt at explaining the whole of the human condition in The Meaning of Life, Monty Python have done more to help explain “what’s all this, then” than most of the systems they set out to lampoon. Together with their many television sketches, their body of work can be said to constitute a comprehensive worldview, albeit one peered at through novelty spectacles.
Monty Python’s Flying Circus was first aired on the BBC in 1969 and went on to profoundly influence the content and scope of popular comedy in a way that has been compared to the Beatles’ influence on popular music. Rather than merely telling jokes or setting up cliched and hackneyed situations, Python’s style of sketch comedy set out to challenge preconceptions and push boundaries of what was considered acceptable in polite society. Monty Python’s legacy today is that it unleashed the limitations on what comedy could be, as well as encouraged humor to become the primary source of cultural criticism. Monty Python directly inspired the psychedelic premises and postmodern meta-comedy found in programs like Mr. Show, South Park, The Simpsons, and Second City, as well as writers such as Douglas Adams, Tom Robbins and Terry Pratchett.
Followers of Monty Python embrace surreal humor as a means to enlightenment. By consulting the world’s vast satirical and parodic material, the Pythonist enjoys unearthing the holy grails and buried treasure of humanity, ultimately discovering spiritual answers to life hidden in humor. By sharing these jokes and repeating sketches as if they were scripture, the Pythonist helps spread the ideals and philosophy of Pythonism.
Worshipping Monty Python:
You know, there are many people in the country today who, through no fault of their own, are sane. Some of them were born sane. Some of them became sane later in their lives.
― Rev. Arthur Belling (Graham Chapman)
“Similarly, if we ask “What have philosophers ever done for us?” we get involved in the following dialogue:
“Well, their examples help us to decide what we think about issues we haven’t thought about before.”
“Oh, yeah, well, that goes without saying, doesn’t it?”
“And their examples help us discover whether we really believe what we say we believe, or not.”
” Yeah, all right. I’ll grant you that their examples help us to work out what we think, and to think better. But apart from helping us to work out what we think, clarifying our views, and helping us to solve hard problems, what do philosophers ever do for us?”
“Well, their examples are amusing.”
― James Taylor, “Why is a Philosopher Like a Python?” from Monty Python and Philosophy: Nudge Nudge, Think Think! (edited by Gary L. Hardcastle)
Life’s a piece of shit
When you look at it
…Always look on the bright side of life.
— Eric Idle, The Life of Brian