While getting ready to head back to the States in the AM having spent the last week in the Cotswolds on the set of Father Brown as they continue filming series 3, the combination of last night’s Monty Python finale at the O2 Arena in London and Germany winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil when we arrived this past week got me thinking…and you know what happens when THAT happens. Fans of the British comedy troupe that did as much for the future of comedy as the Beatles did for the future of music will immediately know where I’m going. It’s…Monty Python in German, of course. Here’s how it first appeared on German television in 1972.
Produced by WDR for West German television in 1971-72, Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus con sited of two, 45-minutes episodes, shot entirely on film and mostly on location in Bavaria, with the first episode recorded in German and the second recorded in English and then dubbed into German. According to Python member, Eric Idle, the reasoning behind the group’s interest in taping the shows in German was pretty straightforward. “The Germans came to us and said ‘Look, we haven’t got a sense of humour, but we understand you do. Can we use yours?”, said Idle.
As the story goes, only Michael Palin and John Cleese were capable of delivering lines in ‘understandable’ German. Despite extensive language coaching, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Graham Chapman were virtually incomprehensible. For this reason, German television producer, Alfred Biokek, made the decision to make the second programme in English, with German overdub added later. We leave the UK and leave you with the Python’s famous Lumberjack Song and Cheese Shop sketches…in German.
The Lumberjack Song featuring the Austria Border Police Choir.
The Dead Parrot sketch