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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

The first time I watched this, a friend brought it to a post homecoming party my senior year of high school. No one really got it but I wanted to like it. (So much of my youth was spent wanting to understand pop culture from before my time. It made me insatiably curious about pop culture but ultimately isolated me even more from my peers. This is neither good nor bad.) In the years that followed, I claimed to love it. Watched it throughout college. Quoted it dutifully at Dungeons and Dragons nights. When I worked in games distribution, our company carried a sprawling line of merchandise based around the film - bloody mouthed bunny slippers, Tim the Enchanter hats, Black Knight plushes - and it got so watered down into the most quotable parts that I stopped even wanting to like it. Tonight, I realized I never really got it but now I do and it's flipping brilliant.


I don't think I stopped smiling for a minute in this viewing. It is exactly my sense of humor. Absurdism stretched out absurdly. The African barn swallow thing isn't on its own all that funny. But that it continues and everyone in this whole wide world seems to be talking about it? Hysterical. See also: Arthur's inability to count to three.


I also LOVE jokes that end in a non-punchline, which is what this whole movie is. It's a set up that ends in "fuck you" and that tickles me. There's something so confident about that kind of ending, knowing there will be grumbling, knowing that people won't get it. I also realized watching this that the kind of absurdism I love takes such bravery. There is no finely tuned payoff just the hope that other people will get it - or even better, that they will be comfortable and even delighted in their not getting it. I'm explaining this terribly but in my quest to more fully embrace my own weirdness, I found this movie to be a big old hug.


I was shocked at how modern this felt, too. Ben and I both cheered Dennis' takedown of the monarchy. The witch burners felt like so many white men on Twitter (no science, no research, just vibes and hurt feelings). Even Lancelot's welcome at the wedding after slaughtering so many guests because of his "influence" felt pretty au courant.


Michael Palin is the best Python.


I've always known that the coconut horse clopping was funny but something about the commitment to the bit tonight really got me. The audacity of Graham Chapman holding that much pride and arrogance in his body as he pretends to ride a horse? Incredible.


Last week I was at a loss for ideas, this week... So many.


Fabric, thread, light.




Takeaways:

-I continue to find my style and it's less medium and more elements. Layers and light are common and comfortable.

-Oh but this is not what I'd had planned. A grand, maximalist tapestry of which god was just one part. I wanted to also include a grail shaped beacon (that I would get a lot of mileage out of leaving on) and some of those butt trumpet guys that make me laugh so much. Alas, reality and a dash of depression got in the way. Work has been very very busy and I've been pretty tired in the evenings. So I kept simplifying and simplifying and this is the result.

-I am *thrilled* with how the stitching on god's face turned out, though. I definitely couldn't have done that a year ago.

-I hadn't planned on including the words but honestly, it kept ringing in my head when I just couldn't bring myself to pick up a needle. GET ON WITH IT. It's probably going to be hung over my desk as a reminder.

-There is a multicolor setting to the light of god and it makes for a fun little rave option.


Next week, we'll travel Into the Woods, then out of the woods, and home before dark! (This is the original Broadway cast pro-shot, NOT that Disney monstrosity.)


My only hope for you in the coming week is that you laugh. May you find yourself absolutely dizzy with delight and mirth. May you find yourself surrounded by the people who not only make you laugh but don't make you pretend your sense of humor is anything other than what it is.

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