Monty Python’s Flying Circus burst onto the scene some 4+ decades ago premiering on the BBC in October 1969. some people refuse to let memories of the legendary comedy group’s performances fade away. The Python fan base in the small town of Ørje, Norway, a village of about 2,000 people near the Swedish border, is apparently particularly dedicated.
A couple of years ago, a traffic sign popped up near an Ørje crosswalk and got the entire town cheering. Reidar Johannes Søby and Ruth Ingeborg Vaaler Thorvaldsen were inspired by a Monty Python-poster at work, and thought it would be fun to make a real sign encouraging people to cross the street John Cleese-style. The sign featured an illustration inspired by the classic 70s Monty Python/John Cleese sketch, “The Ministry of Silly Walks,” and was installed by Swedish art collective, Kreativiteket.
From the beginning, the crossing encouraged people to use their imagination, walk silly and make time for a little bit of mischief in their everyday routine. No surprise to anyone, the installation caused a positive stir in the community. According to the members of Kreativiteket, locals were sharing photos of the sign on social media and filming each other. Even the town’s drivers got on board with the initiative.
What was a surprise, however, was that the sign, in some eyes, was a violation of the Road Traffic Act and, therefore, must be eliminated, say authorities. Road authorities, mainly the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, were not amused by the sign. One of its representatives told Norwegian news organization NRK that it’s illegal to use artistic signs that can be easily confused with public signs. Local Ørje officials, i.e. The Mayor, suggested that the NPRA should buy more of these ‘silly walk’ signs and spread them across the country insisting that “…this kind of fun should be allowed.” Who can argue with that?
The great thing is that ‘fun’ is spreading. The sign popped up recently on Sparks St in Ottawa. Anyone else?