You might have known that technically, the Four Yorkeshiremen isn’t an original Monty Python skit as well as didn’t feature in Flying Circus. However, it has become so synonymous with the troupe which it warrants inclusion. Written by Tim Brooke-Taylor, Cleese, Chapman, and Marty Feldman, first performed on their ITV comedy show in 1967, Four Yorkshiremen is an increasingly absurd parody of one-upmanship, nostalgia, and northern grit.
Featuring script tweaks every time the sketch was performed live by the Pythons and many other performers, the four holidaying, well-dressed Yorkshiremen in question drink a bottle of Chateau de Chasselas and try to best each other with exaggerated yet rose-tinted tales of childhood hardship. With shoeboxes and septic tanks for homes and fathers that would slice them in 2 with bread knives, the four men are united in agreement that “if you tell that to young people, they won’t believe you”.
Popular with philosophy students muse on the benefits of paying for professional debate, the Argument Clinic is an adroit exploration of the consumer culture and English language. Written by Chapman and Cleese, it is a great example of the intense wordplay that characterized the writers’ work at the time. The quick-fire dialogue is beautifully delivered by Cleese and Palin in a verbal jousting contest.
Purchasing a five-minute argument, the character of Palin is caught off guard by the immediacy of the argumentative approach of Cleese’s character, growing ever more frustrated by the latter’s mental gymnastics and verbal. Containing a dictionary definition of the word ‘argument’, the character of Palin attempts in vain to make his opponent admit that ad hominem attacks and contradictions do not make an argument. Storming off, his angry customer is first verbally abused and later hit over the head in two more rooms in which the public can purchase absurd experiences.