For those not familiar with Monty Python, this was a British surreal comedy troupe consisting of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gillam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. Their TV show, Monty Python's Flying Circus, aired between 1969 and 1974, 45 episodes, four series.
The Dead Parrot Sketch, from the first season, is one of their best known and most famous sketches. In it John Cleese plays Mr Praline, a dissatisfied customer who has purchased a Norwegian Blue parrot from a shopkeeper, played by Michael Palin. The owner of the store refuses to acknowledge that the parrot is dead and offers a variety of explanations and alternatives, causing Mr Praline to become more and more exasperated.
(The sketch was inspired by a used car salesman who wouldn't acknowledge gross defects in a car sold by him).
See the sketch at:
Here is part of the sketch:
Owner: No, no.....No, 'e's stunned!
Mr. Praline: STUNNED?!?
Owner: Yeah! You stunned him, just as he was wakin' up! Norwegian Blues stun easily, major.
Mr. Praline: Um...now look...now look, mate, I've definitely 'ad enough of this. That parrot is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not 'alf an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein' tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.
Owner: Well, he's...he's, ah...probably pining for the fjords.
Mr. Praline: PININ' for the FJORDS?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment I got 'im home?
Owner: The Norwegian Blue prefers keepin' on it's back! Remarkable bird, id'nit, squire? Lovely plumage!
Mr. Praline: Look, I took the liberty of examining that parrot when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there.
Owner: Well, o'course it was nailed there! If I hadn't nailed that bird down, it would have nuzzled up to those bars, bent 'em apart with its beak, and VOOM! Feeweeweewee!
Mr. Praline: "VOOM"?!? Mate, this bird wouldn't "voom" if you put four million volts through it! 'E's bleedin' demised!
Owner: No no! 'E's pining!
Mr. Praline: 'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!
Fast forward 21 years to 1990. Margaret Thatcher is Prime Minister (her last year of office as PM) and she is addressing the Conservative Party Conference.
One of her targets was the new logo of the Liberal Democratic Party, adopted in 1989. The logo of a yellow bird in full flight is called the Bird of Liberty:
See Margaret Thatcher’s comments by clicking on the following link, well worth the look:
For those not inclined to view, the text is as follows:
“..Now, that brings me to the Liberal Party.
I gather that during the last few days there have been some ill-natured jokes about their new symbol, a bird of some kind, adopted by the Liberal Democrats at Blackpool.
Politics is a serious business, and one should not lower the tone unduly. So I will say only this of the Liberal Democrat symbol and of the party it symbolises.
This is an ex-parrot.
It is not merely stunned. It has ceased to be, expired and gone to meet its maker. It is a parrot no more. It has rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is a late parrot.
And now for something completely different…”
By the Way Moment:
Margaret Thatcher had to be persuaded by her advisor to use the reference to the dead parrot, that the lines were funny and that they would be recognised by the audience.
She famously pondered it for a long time backstage and was shown the parrot sketch, repeatedly, until she could mimic John Cleese perfectly.
Still undecided, she asked her advisor: “This Monty Python. Is he one of us?”
In true deadpan British style, the advisor simply replied: “Yes, Prime Minister.”