This is At the Buzzer’s countdown of the best 25 comedies of all-time. Our panel of 10 cast their votes, and we’re revealing the results one by one until we get to No. 1 on Tuesday, May 10.
And now, our number 3:
3) Monty Python and the Holy Grail (8 votes, 252 points)
Listen, strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
Chris: I’m not even sure how much I need to say about Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Some would consider it the best comedy ever made. Damn near everyone is familiar with at least a scene or two from it. It’s the movie that received the most votes from our panel (one more than our No. 1 pick) and has endured for more than 40 years now.
I mean, it’s not for everyone. It’s a very eccentric and dry brand of British humor and I’m sure there are some scenes that some folks just don’t get. But even having seen this a half-dozen times or more, there are moments that just get me. My absolute favorite is pretty much the entirety of Lancelot’s quest to the swamp castle, with the exchange between the guards who simply don’t understand who’s allowed to go and who has to stay, and Lancelot’s extreme aggression in murdering an entire wedding party for what he thinks is the greater good. But everyone knows about the fabled white rabbit and the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, and the Black Knight and his flesh wounds, and the questions three on the Bridge of Death. They’re comedy mainstays.
Even the film’s limited budget (half a million dollars! Really!) ends up being part of the joke, with men carrying coconuts instead of riding those expensive horses and blatantly obvious rabbit puppets going for the jugular.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is equal parts absurdly silly and pointedly savvy, and its unique brand of humor still resonates today. It has a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is required viewing for damn near everyone.
Cary: Would any list of favorite comedies be complete without Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Nope, because it simply has to be in the mix. It’s one of the best compilations of comedic performances around. Even if you don’t care much for Monty Python in general, this is such a highly enjoyable and effortless film.
It’s near perfect in terms of comedic timing (the “air velocity of an unladen swallow” and “she’s a witch” scenes are testament to that), and it’s the epitome of classic dry, British humor, where it’s less about what you do and more about what you say, and how and when you say it. That’s not to say the movie’s not without visual gags, i.e. the Black Knight, but it’s not all about the visuals in the Airplane! vein. Monty Python and the Holy Grail is in its own category of comedies, a category that contains few, if any other, modern-day counterparts.
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