Maggie and Monty Python

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In honor of the celebration of Easter and fertility and chocolate rabbits, have an appropriate Monty Python clip. I hope you feel better for the experience...


Due to perverse curiosity I was led me to the infamous Dead Parrot sketch...


Which was used by Margaret Thatcher in speech at the Conservative Conference in October 1990 to make fun of the Liberal Democrats.


The Pythons were so popular the audience catches the reference immediately. John Whittingdale, her former Private Secretary, describes how important it was for her to include humor in her speeches. While she possessed a dry sense of humor, there were two men to write jokes for her, Sir Ronnie Millar and John O'Sullivan (a journalist and commentator). Their choices often dealt with popular culture, something Thatcher was not always aware of. She occasionally needed to be persuaded that their jokes were actually funny. For example she had never even heard of Monty Python. They explained to her that it was one of the most famous comedy sketches ever written and that it would be instantly recognizable to every person in the audience. Whittingdale writes, "I was slightly less certain of this latter point, knowing Conservative audiences, but all of us present insisted to the Prime Minister that it would be the highlight of her speech." She kept asking them if they were sure it was funny, and finally decided that she needed to watch the sketch to get the delivery right.

"One of the more surreal moments during my time at Number Ten followed. Sitting in my office watching the dead parrot sketch were Margaret Thatcher, John O'Sullivan, Robin Harris who was also helping with the speech, Peter Morrison her PPS and myself. At any time, it is a very funny sketch. But the absurdity of the situation made it all the more amusing and I and the three others found it so hilarious that we had tears rolling down our cheeks. Margaret Thatcher, on the other hand, was all the more mystified. It was not her type of humour and she found it difficult to see why we were laughing so much. However, given that we all were, she accepted that it must be funny and so, true professional that she was, she attempted to master the emphasis and inflexion of John Cleese's delivery. She did so brilliantly and was soon able to deliver faultlessly the famous lines: 'This parrot is no more. It has ceased to be. It has expired and gone to meet its maker.'" John Whittingdale

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Monty Python will always have a special place in my heart for its absolutely absurd humor and wacky situations. It often plays off of situational irony; in this case it's hard to imagine Jesus would be singing a happy tune while amidst a painful asphyxiation-driven death. Leave it to Monty Python to find humor in the most taboo and unlikely places!

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