Years ago, when I was working as a teacher, I used to be surrounded by other teachers. And I’m not sure if you know, but all different types of secondary school/high school teachers are their own special category of nerd. I feel qualified to say that because I too, am a total nerd. The science guys were science-y technical nerds, and the drama teachers were oh-so-theatrical (and awesome), and the history staff knew all the random factoids. I was one of the English/literature staff, and we, of course, are book nerds, with the occasional film or poetry nerd thrown into the mix. I’ve taught in a few places now, and I’ve discovered, that pretty much every school has one very particular, specialised nerd – the Monty Python nerd. Sometimes you’ll even discover a little patch of them, congregated together, quoting Python and saying things that non-Pythons just don’t understand. I had the good fortune to work with a matching pair of Python-ites, and distinctly recall, in my earliest days of teaching, halfheartedly laughing as I pretended to know what they were talking about. A real, special and unique breed, with a totally foreign language. Who cares about the parrot? What? Why are we still talking about the parrot?
I love old British comedies- Stephen Fry is amazing, and Rowan Atkinson is a comedic genius, and I also used to love watching Faulty Towers with my Dad on a Saturday afternoon. I figured John Cleese was way up there in the funny-stakes so his book would be awesome. It was.
In the process of reading this one, though, I realised the massively gaping hole that is my Monty Python knowledge, and just how much I needed to watch it so I could finally be “in” on the joke. Thanks to some excellently-priced DVDs (thank you, JBHifi!) I get it now! Ok, so some of it is just downright weird, but I snorted Diet Coke out of my nose (there seems to be a trend here!) at the Ministry of Silly Walks sketch. Oh… brilliant. If you’re not familiar with it – watch it.
So it turns out that Cleese too was a teacher. I wonder if there were categories of teacher-nerds back in his time? What I know from this book is that Cleese is truly funny, a wonderful comic and a gifted writer too. He gives you the inside story on the way he saw the Python team working together (or sometimes, not working together). Cleese has done lots of great things – this book is one of them.
What’s the lesson? Watch Monty Python. Don’t be the bystander pretending to get the joke when the other Pythonites have gathered.