Monty Python’s Best Philosophy Sketches: “The Philosophers’ Football Match,” “Philosopher’s Drinking Song” & More

From dead par­rots to The Mean­ing of Life, Mon­ty Python cov­ered a lot of ter­ri­to­ry. Edu­cat­ed at Oxford and Cam­bridge, the Pythons made a habit of weav­ing arcane intel­lec­tu­al ref­er­ences into the sil­li­est of sketch­es. A clas­sic exam­ple is “Mrs. Premise and Mrs. Con­clu­sion Vis­it Jean-Paul Sartre,” (above) from episode 27 of Mon­ty Python’s Fly­ing Cir­cus.

The sketch fea­tures writ­ing part­ners John Cleese as Mrs. Premise and Gra­ham Chap­man as Mrs. Con­clu­sion, gab­bing away in a laun­derette about how best to put down a budgie. Mrs. Premise sug­gests flush­ing it down the loo. “Ooh! No!” protests Mrs. Con­clu­sion. “You should­n’t do that. No that’s dan­ger­ous. Yes, they breed in the sew­ers, and even­tu­al­ly you get evil-smelling flocks of huge soiled bud­gies fly­ing out of peo­ple’s lava­to­ries infring­ing their per­son­al free­dom.”

From there the con­ver­sa­tion veers straight into Jean-Paul Sartre’s The Roads to Free­dom. It’s a clas­sic sketch–vintage Python–and you can read a tran­script here while watch­ing it above.

Anoth­er clas­sic is the “Philoso­pher’s Drink­ing Song,” shown above in a scene from Mon­ty Python Live at the Hol­ly­wood Bowl. The song was writ­ten and sung by Eric Idle. In the sketch, mem­bers of the phi­los­o­phy depart­ment at the “Uni­ver­si­ty of Wool­loomooloo” lead the audi­ence in singing, “Immanuel Kant was a real pis­sant who was very rarely sta­ble; Hei­deg­ger, Hei­deg­ger was a boozy beg­gar who could think you under the table…”

And one of our favorites: “The Philoso­phers’ Foot­ball Match” (above), a filmed sequence from Mon­ty Python Live at the Hol­ly­wood Bowl, pit­ting the Ancient Greeks against the Ger­mans, with Con­fu­cius as ref­er­ee. The sketch was orig­i­nal­ly broad­cast in 1972 in a two-part West Ger­man tele­vi­sion spe­cial, Mon­ty Python’s Fliegen­der Zirkus.

When you’re done laugh­ing, you can dive deep into phi­los­o­phy here with our col­lec­tion of 75 Free Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es online.

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Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in Novem­ber 2011.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mon­ty Python’s “Argu­ment Clin­ic” Sketch Reen­act­ed by Two Vin­tage Voice Syn­the­siz­ers (One Is Stephen Hawking’s Voice)

John Cleese’s Phi­los­o­phy of Cre­ativ­i­ty: Cre­at­ing Oases for Child­like Play

John Cleese on How “Stu­pid Peo­ple Have No Idea How Stu­pid They Are” (a.k.a. the Dun­ning-Kruger Effect)

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.