Monty Python’s ‘Dead parrot’ sketch
Famous in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Monty Python was a group of English comedians who created the Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ TV comedy program. The comedy show lasted for 4 years and became an icon of British humour. Monty Python continued to work together for many years and made 5 films, including ‘Monty Python’s The life of Brian’ and ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’.
The group consisted of 6 men; Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. With the exception of Graham Chapman, who pegged it in 1989, all are still working in TV and films today.
One of the group’s most famous comedy sketches is the ‘Dead parrot sketch’, which is about an unhappy customer called customer Mr Praline (played by Cleese) and a shopkeeper (Michael Palin). Mr Praline bought a parrot from the shopkeeper, and then discovered it was dead.
If you want to test your understanding, the ‘Dead parrot sketch’ has also been used in one of our free English lessons.
The Dead Parrot
Hover your mouse over the bold words for a definition
MR. PRALINE – John Cleese
SHOP OWNER – Michael Palin
The sketch: A customer enters a pet shop.
Mr. Praline: ‘Ello, I wish to register a complaint.
Mr. Praline: ‘Ello, Miss?
Owner: What do you mean “miss”?
Mr. Praline: I’m sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!
Owner: Sorry we’re closin’ for lunch.
Mr. Praline: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this parrot what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.
Owner: Oh yes, the, uh, the Norwegian Blue… What’s wrong with it?
Mr. Praline: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it. It’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with it!
Owner: No, no, it’s resting. Look.
Mr. Praline: Look, my lad, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.
Owner: No no it’s not dead, he’s, it’s resting! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue. Beautiful plumage innit?
Mr. Praline: The plumage don’t enter into it. It’s stone dead.
Owner: No no no no, no, no! It’s resting!
Mr. Praline: All right then, if it’s resting, I’ll wake him up! (shouting at the cage) ‘Ello, Polly! I’ve got a lovely fresh cuttlefish for when you wake up…
Owner: There, it moved!
Mr. Praline: No, it didn’t, that was you pushing the cage!
Owner: I did not!!
Mr. Praline: Yes, you did!
Mr. Praline: ‘ELLO POLLY!!!!!
(Takes parrot out of the cage and thumps its head on the counter. Throws it up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor.)
Mr. Praline: Now that’s what I call a dead parrot.
Owner: No, no…..No, it’s stunned!
Mr. Praline: Look, my lad, I’ve ‘ad just about enough of this. That parrot is definitely deceased, and when I bought it not half an hour ago, you assured me that its lack of movement was due to it being tired and shagged out following a long squawk.
Owner: Well, he’s probably pining for the fjords.
Mr. Praline: PININ’ for the FJORDS?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that? Look, why did it fall flat on its back the moment I got it home?
Owner: The Norwegian Blue prefers kipping on it’s back! Beautiful bird. Lovely plumage!
Mr. Praline: Look, I took the liberty of examining that parrot 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, of course it was nailed there! Otherwise it would have nuzzled up to those bars and VOOM!
Mr. Praline: Look matey, this parrot wouldn’t “voom” if I put four thousand volts through it! It’s bleedin’ demised!
Owner: It’s not! It’s pining!
Mr. Praline: It’s not pinin’! It’s passed on! This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late parrot. It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, It rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch It’d be pushing up the daisies! It’s run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!
Owner: Well, I’d better replace it, then.
Mr. Praline: If you want to get anything done in this country you’ve got to complain until you are blue in the mouth.
Owner: Sorry Guv, we’re right out of parrots.
Mr. Praline: I see. I see, I get the picture.
Owner: (pause) I got a slug.
Mr. Praline: Does it talk?
Owner: Not really.
Mr. Praline: WELL IT’S HARDLY A REPLACEMENT, IS IT?!!???!!?
Owner: Look, tell you what, if you go to my brother’s pet shop in Bolton, he’ll replace the parrot for you.
Mr. Praline: Bolton, eh? Alright.
(The customer leaves.)
(The customer enters the same pet shop. The owner is putting on a false moustache.)
Mr. Praline: Excuse me, this is Bolton, is it?
Owner: No, it’s Ipswich.
Mr. Praline: That’s inter-city rail for you.
(Mr. Praine goes to the train station. He speaks to a man standing in the complaints office.)
Mr. Praline: I wish to complain.
Attendant: I DON’T HAVE TO DO THIS JOB, YOU KNOW!!!
Mr. Praline: I beg your pardon…?
Attendant: I’m a qualified brain surgeon! I only do this job because I like being my own boss!
Mr. Praline: Excuse me, this is irrelevant, isn’t it?
Attendant: Yeah, well it’s not easy to pad these programs out to 30 minutes.
Mr. Praline: Well, I wish to make a complaint I got on the Bolton train and found myself deposited here in Ipswich.
Attendant: No, this is Bolton.
Mr. Praline: (to the camera) The pet shop owner’s brother was lying!!
Attendant: You can’t blame British Rail for that.
Mr. Praline: If this is Bolton, I shall return to the pet shop!
Mr. Praline: I understand that this IS Bolton.
Mr. Praline: You told me it was Ipswich!
Owner: …It was a pun.
Mr. Praline: A PUN?!?
Owner: No, no…not a pun…What’s that thing which spells the same backwards as forwards?
Mr. Praline: (Long pause) A palindrome?
Owner: Yeah, that’s it!
Mr. Praline: It’s not a palindrome! The palindrome of “Bolton” would be “Notlob”!! It don’t work!!
Owner: Well, what do you want?
Mr. Praline: I’m sorry, I’m not prepared to pursue my line of inquiry any longer as I think this is getting too silly!
Sergeant-Major: Quite agree, quite agree, silly, silly… Right. Get on with it!