Monday, January 07, 2013


So, apparently last night's episode of Family Guy started like this:

...much to the delight of many members of the comedigeekocracy.  Words like "witty," "brilliant" and "amazing" have been bandied about.  To which I can pretty much only shrug.  (Seriously.  Overwork has worn me out to the point that I have no control of my motor skills below the shoulder.  You would be equal parts impressed and horrified to see how I'm typing this right now.)

I mean, nice homage, but, as a joke, it's a Family Guy joke, which is to say, a reference to something that exists, presented to arouse a Pavlovian recognition laugh in the easily amused.  (I guess you can say I'm not a Family Guy fan, per se.)  Which, of course, is what they do.  Even if they get a little more obscure with the reference gag, it's still a reference gag:

...and besides, I don't think they should be allowed to simply borrow the works of such comedy icons of yore if they're going to promulgate this sort of attitude elsewhere:

That's right, Family Guy bagging on another comedy show for being inconsistent.  Ho-ho.  (I do take this sort of thing a little more personally than is healthy, I admit, but I'm sure the rest of you can manage the righteous indignation over their rape/racist/Holocaust jokes just fine without me.)

As I am nothing if not ridiculously obsessive, this whole thing set me to thinking about the various Python tributes and homages that have turned up elsewhere among their spiritual descendents.  Like the clips above, they tend to take the Pythonic sensibility and run it through their own.

I've posted this one before, but it can't be ignored - the team from Not the Nine O'Clock News, mere days after the Cleese/Palin vs. Muggeridge/Southwark Life of Brian debate, skewers both it and the reverence of Python's most devout acolytes, quite brilliantly:

Not long after, The Young Ones came along and imbued the surrealism/absurdism/brutality of Python with an added gob-dollop of punk attitude and velocity, and, as if to prove it, they manage to stuff a tribute to one of the greatest Python sketches with a full set and costumes (and a letter-perfect Michael Palin impersonation by Rik Mayall) into about eight seconds:

Trey Parker and Matt Stone are avowed, life-long Pythonophiles, and at the apex of South Park's first, white-hot burst of success, they were invited to contribute to 1999's "Python Night" with a two-tiered homage of their own (they, too, were wise to keep it short):

The Simpsons, of course, preceded all other animated shows with their Python references, and still holds the prize for the most obscure and best-hidden one (to the point that some Python fans might not pick up on it):

Comedy shows paying tribute to a major influence - no surprise there.   This, however, was a little more unexpected - a scene from a recent episode of Fringe which honors the work of Terry Gilliam with far more invention than Seth MacFarlane's comedy sweatshop can manage in a month of Sunday animation blocks:

I hope you've learned something there, people - you got shown up by a show about, um, crime-fighting vest makers or something.  (I'm not very familiar with the program.)

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