A Michigan Family Makes Everyone Passing Their House Do Monty Python Silly Walks, and Then Puts Recordings on Instagram

Even if you don’t know the Bea­t­les, you know “Love Me Do.” Even if you don’t know the Rolling Stones, you know “Sat­is­fac­tion.” Even if you don’t know Mon­ty Python, you know “The Min­istry of Sil­ly Walks.” Like an AM radio hit, the sketch works on sev­er­al dif­fer­ent aes­thet­ic and intel­lec­tu­al lev­els while cap­ti­vat­ing audi­ences of dis­parate ages and cul­tures, all with­in the span of a few min­utes. As a satire of British gov­ern­ment bureau­cra­cy it com­pares, in its way, to Antony Jay and Jonathan Lyn­n’s series Yes Min­is­ter, which would debut on the BBC a decade lat­er. As sheer phys­i­cal com­e­dy, it draws its pow­er, as all those old songs do, from the innate char­ac­ter­is­tics of its per­form­ers. Or rather, from John Cleese, who not only looks the part of a born estab­lish­ment fig­ure, but stands near­ly six and a half feet tall.

Though few of us can sing like Paul McCart­ney or Mick Jag­ger, it does­n’t stop us from join­ing in when their songs come on the radio. By the same token, though few of us pos­sess the sheer leg length to walk as sil­ly as Cleese does, we can all gen­er­ate our own kind of lev­i­ty by giv­ing our best. And much of the Unit­ed States, locked down by the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic, lev­i­ty is just what’s need­ed. Hence the estab­lish­ment of York­shire Sil­ly Walks, which announces itself in no uncer­tain terms: “YOU HAVE ENTERED THE JURISDICTION OF THE MINISTRY OF SILLY WALKS,” reads its signs. “COMMENCE SILLY WALKING IMMEDIATELY.” All who pass through this ter­ri­to­ry are cap­tured by a video cam­era, and some will lat­er find them­selves post­ed to York­shire Sil­ly Walks’ Insta­gram page — as long as they’ve walked with suf­fi­cient silli­ness.

They don’t have to do it for long: the juris­dic­tion of this Min­istry of Sil­ly Walks extends only across the side­walk in front of a sin­gle house in Grosse Pointe Park, Michi­gan. The home­’s York­shire Road address will con­jure up mem­o­ries of anoth­er beloved sketch in the minds of seri­ous Python fans — a group to which Liz Koto and her fam­i­ly, the house­’s occu­pants, must belong. They’ve post­ed to Insta­gram well over 100 videos, each cap­tur­ing a dif­fer­ent sil­ly walk exe­cut­ed by the peo­ple of their sub­ur­ban neigh­bor­hood out for a stroll — just about the only thing many Amer­i­cans can do to get out of the house these days. And they do it more joy­ful­ly than Cleese him­self, who has spo­ken of how, like a rock star con­demned to play the same hit over and over again, he grew deeply weary of play­ing the Min­is­ter of Sil­ly Walks on stage for Mon­ty Python’s live shows over the decades. After hav­ing under­gone two hip replace­ments, he’s sure­ly hap­py to leave sil­ly-walk­ing to the fans.

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Wood­stock called, they want their dancers back.

A post shared by York­shire Sil­ly Walks (@yorkshire.silly.walks) on

via Laugh­ing Squid

Relat­ed Con­tent:

John Cleese Revis­its His 20 Years as an Ivy League Pro­fes­sor in His New Book, Pro­fes­sor at Large: The Cor­nell Years

John Cleese on The Impor­tance of Mak­ing and Embrac­ing Mis­takes

Ital­ians’ Night­ly Sin­ga­longs Prove That Music Soothes the Sav­age Beast of Coro­n­avirus Quar­an­tine & Self-Iso­la­tion

Inge­nious Impro­vised Recre­ations of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Ear­ring, Using Mate­ri­als Found Around the House

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.


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