- Undertakers sketch
The Undertakers sketch (written by
Graham Chapmanand John Cleese) is a comedy sketch from the 26th episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, entitled "the Queen Will Be Watching." It was the final sketch of the final episode of the second season, and was perhaps the most notorious of the Python team's television sketches.
The sketch begins when a quietly spoken man (Cleese) takes his dead mother to an undertakers' office. The brash undertaker (Chapman), showing no emotional tact, suggests they can "bury 'er or burn 'er, or dump her in the Thames", but rules out the latter after Cleese confirms that he liked his mother. Of the other two, the undertaker says both are "nasty," and describes the sordid details. When the son shows the undertaker his mother's body, which is in a sack, he sees that the dead woman "looks quite young". He tells his assistant, Fred (Idle) that he thinks they've "got an eater." The grieving son is understandably shocked by the idea of eating his mother's corpse, but eventually succumbs to "feeling a bit peckish." He still feels uneasy, but when the undertaker suggests digging a grave for him to throw up into (in case he feels "a bit guilty afterwards"), he agrees.
BBCwere cautious about the sketch, and reluctantly agreed to let it go ahead on the condition that the studio audience were heard to protest loudly, then invade the set at the sketch's conclusion. This was poorly-executed: the audience began booing and shouting too early (those who weren't heckling were laughing), and because of studio fire regulations, only a limited section of the crowd were allowed to rush onto the studio floor - the rest of them just sat there looking awkward. (As Roger Wilmut pointed out in the book "From Fringe To Flying Circus", a genuinely shocked audience would have reacted with an embarrassed silence.)
Following its initial broadcast of the sketch in 1970, the BBC wiped the sketch from the master tape and replaced it with the "Spot the Braincell" sketch from episode 7 of the second series ("The Attila the Hun Show"). However, when the second series was released on BBC Video in 1985, episode thirteen was rather cleverly 'restored', thanks to the discovery of a (low quality) copy of the sketch that appears to be sourced from an off-air recording or a foreign (probably American) duplicate of the original show. This restored episode was finally shown again on television in the late 1980s as part of a complete (if frequently interrupted) run of second and third series repeats.
The sketch was part of a longer
running jokewithin the episode, which was that they expected Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to watch the show at some point. Having had interjections throughout the show ("She's switched to ITV!"), the final scene, after the desultory audience invasion, had everyone standing to attention while the music to " God Save the Queen" was played, and the end credits rolled up the screen.
To juxtapose the joke that the Queen would be watching, the episode also deliberately featured many of
Monty Python's most tasteless and abusive sketches. This sketch, the last in both the episode and the second series, immediately followed the Lifeboat sketch(also about cannibalism) and some graphically cannibalistic animation from Gilliam. Nevertheless, it was this sketch which was most notorious for its tastelessness, and Cleese made specific reference to this sketch alone in his eulogy for Chapman, when recalling Chapman's talent for pushing the boundaries of bad taste. [http://www.geocities.com/fang_club/chapman_memorial.html]
This sketch should not be confused with the Undertakers film from episode 11 of series 1. The Undertakers film showed, in several snippets throughout the episode, a team of increasingly fatigued undertakers struggling to carry a coffin through the streets.
[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFDgSKbapzY The video of the sketch on YouTube (preceded by Lifeboat sketch and animation)]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Lifeboat sketch — Monty Python s Lifeboat sketch appeared on Monty Python s Flying Circus in Episode 26. It was also performed on the album, Another Monty Python Record , retitled Still No Sign Of Land .The sketch features five sailors in a lifeboat, and features… … Wikipedia
Dead Parrot sketch — John Cleese (right) attempts to return his dead Norwegian Blue parrot to Michael Palin The Dead Parrot Sketch , alternatively and originally known as the Pet Shop Sketch or Parrot Sketch , is a popular sketch from Monty Python s Flying Circus,… … Wikipedia
Cheese Shop sketch — John Cleese (right) and Michael Palin (left) of Monty Python performing the Cheese Shop sketch. The Cheese Shop is a well known sketch from Monty Python s Flying Circus. It appears in episode 33 … Wikipedia
R v Dudley and Stephens — Sketch of the Mignonette by Tom Dudley Court High Court of Justice (Queen s Bench Division) Full case name Her Majesty The Queen v. Tom Dudley and Edwin Stephens … Wikipedia
Undertaker (disambiguation) — Undertaker may refer to: *Undertaker, another name for a funeral director, someone involved in the business of funeral rites *The Undertaker, the ring name of WWE wrestler Mark Calaway * Undertaker , a song by M. Ward from his 2003 album… … Wikipedia
List of Monty Python's Flying Circus episodes — This is a list of all 45 episodes from the television series Monty Python s Flying Circus: Series Episodes Originally aired First in the series Last in the series 1 13 5 October 1969 11 January 1970 2 13 15 September 1970 22 Dece … Wikipedia
Liste des épisodes du Monty Python's Flying Circus — Voici la liste des 45 épisodes de la série télévisée Monty Python s Flying Circus : Sommaire 1 Saison 1 1.1 1. Whither Canada? 1.2 2. Sex and Violence 1.3 … Wikipédia en Français
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral — For the film, see Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (film). Tombstone in 1881 … Wikipedia
Monty Python's Flying Circus — This article is about the television series. For the group, the conception of the show and other Python media, see Monty Python. Monty Python’s Flying Circus DVD cover – Monty Python members (left to right): Back: Terry Gilliam, John Cleese,… … Wikipedia
List of Little Britain characters — This is a list of characters for the British television and radio sketch show Little Britain (and its American spin off, Little Britain USA). Contents: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T … Wikipedia