Monty Pythons “The Parrot Sketch” is a classic.
If you’re even a casual Python fan it’s pretty much an unwritten rule that you at least have to quote this sketch by heart.
BUT the first time I saw “The Parrot Sketch” was when I caught it on SNL, nearly a decade ago. It wasn’t till years later that I finally got to see the original version.
I haven’t seen the SNL take on the sketch since I saw it first aired but bless the internet, not only is the original sketch up and about, so is the SNL one!
Lets watch shall we….
And below is the link to the SNL one….
The funniest story concerning the SNL version was that on the week of the show, Lorne Michaels asked John Cleese and Michael Palin if they could perform the sketch on SNL that week.
Cleese and Palin agreed, but both realized they completely forgot how the sketch went.(And mind you, this was before internet video was as big as is it today so they couldn’t have just looked it up.) One of them came up with pretty brilliant idea to figure out the sketch…go to a local college and find a fan.
Thats exactly what they did. They went to NYU, found a fan, the fan wrote the whole sketch FROM MEMORY(see, what did I tell you) and thats the version that went up on SNL later that week.
So knowing this, it’s pretty clear why the newer one isn’t that good. The number one problem is that the pacing is very slow in the newer one. Cleese and Palin’s performance just doesn’t have the same energy (which is fine, it was just a couple of decades since they last did it). My theory is that since it has been so long, they forgot how to play for the laughs in the sketch.
In the end, the big problem is that it was trying to recapture the magic of the first time, and with that long between doing it the first time (and most likely not having enough time to rehearse) and doing it for SNL, we have a very flawed version of the sketch.
That being said, it was very cool to see Palin and Cleese act together in a sketch again, especially being it being that sketch.