If you are a British comedy fan, you’ve probably watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail until you can quote this dialogue like The Rocky Horror Picture Show. If you’re like me, this is one of those movies that when you’re flipping around on the remote no matter where you are in the film, you stay put and watch genius at work. If you haven’t seen in some time, it’s time to see if from the beginning this Sunday night at 10:00p on KERA in North Texas.
Even though it was 1975, it seems like it was just yesterday that I was standing in line at the Esquire Theatre in Dallas for the ‘world premiere’ of this unknown film called Monty Python and the Holy Grail. After about an hour in line, they handed each of us coconuts and moved us inside.
As we really had no clue as to what the film was about, we just knew it was from the brilliant mind palaces of the Monty Python troupe so it would definitely be worth the wait. Fortunately, it only took about 5 minutes before we understood the importance and meaning of getting a coconut as a parting gift for attending the premiere.
While it’s a bit hard to believe it’s been over four decades since that unforgettable night in 1975, my belief stands that Monty Python and Holy Grail is one of the greatest comedic masterpieces of all-time and has not diminished one bit over time. This is not one of those films you loved decades ago and then when you re-watch it years later, your first comment is “what on Earth was I thinking”. This is still, and will always be, comedy gold.
Forty one years ago to the day in March 1975, in a scene reminiscent of the Beatles’ first trip to America, four members of the Monty Python comedy troupe landed at Dallas’ Love Field and were mobbed by adoring fans. The troupe had just flown in from LA where Monty Python and the Holy Grail had just been screened for the first time to help KERA celebrate being the first television station in the United States to broadcast Monty Python’s Flying Circus, an seminal moment in U.S. television history.
Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Graham Chapman came to the KERA studios as part of a tour of public television stations to raise both money and awareness for the stations that recognized, early on, the true genius that is Python.
Why KERA, you ask?
It was that first broadcast on public television in the United States of Python that opened the doors for British comedy to make its way to public television stations across America. It was then Program Director, Ron Devillier, and KERA president, Bob Wilson, who had the foresight to acquire the program and be the first to put it on the air in October 1974.
From that momentous first Sunday in October 1974 (October 6, to be exact), which was almost 5 years to the day that Monty Python’s Flying Circus premiered in the UK on the BBC in 1969, Sundays nights have never been the same both in North Texas and around the U.S.
The rest of the British comedy story on public television is history. In subsequent years, viewers were treated to the British comedy brilliance of series such as Fawlty Towers, Good Neighbors, The Two Ronnies, To the Manor Born, Keeping Up Appearances, Vicar of Dibley, Blackadder and on and on. British comedy continues today on nearly every public television station in America, all thanks to Sunday, October 6, 1974, in Dallas.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Sunday at 10p on KERA!