Whenever I think about any sort of script or contrived scene, I always like to imagine the creative meeting behind it. And for the life of me, this (unedited) extract defies reconstruction. Drumroll please, for a bonkers stream-of-consciousness overload – stage directions/storyboard from season one of Monty Python’s Flying Circus (opening scene from episode five: Man’s crisis of identity in the latter half of the twentieth century).
Cut to large van arriving. On one side is a large sign readling ‘Confuse-a-Cat Limited: Europe’s leading cat-confusing service. By appointment to…’ and a crest. Several people get out of the van, dressed in white coats, with peaked caps and insignia. One of them has a sergeant’s stripes.
Sergeant Squad! Eyes front! Stand at ease. Cat confusers …shun!
From a following car a general alights.
General Well men, we’ve got a pretty difficult cat to confuse today so let’s get straight on with it. Jolly good. Thank you sergeant.
Sergeant Confusers attend to the van and fetch out… wait for it… fetch out the funny things. (the men unload the van) Move, move, move. One, two, one, two, get those funny things off.
The workmen are completing the erection of a proscenium with curtains in front of the still immobile cat. A and B watch with awe. The arrangements are completed. All stand ready.
Sergeant Stage ready for confusing, sir!
General Very good. Carry on, sergeant.
Sergeant Left turn, double march!
General Right men, confuse the … cat!
Drum roll and cymbals. The curtains draw back and an amazing show takes place, using various tricks: locked camera, fast motion, jerky motion, jump cuts, some pixilated motion etc. Long John Silver walks to front of stage.
Long John Silver My lords, ladies and Gedderbong.
Long John Silver disappears. A pause. Two boxers appear. They circle each other. On one’s head a bowler hat appears, vanishes. On the other’s a sterve-pipe hat appears. On the first’s head is a fez. The stove-pipe hat becomes a stetson. The fez becomes a cardinal’s hat. The stetson becomes a wimple. Then the cardinal’s hat and the wimple vanish. One of the boxers becomes Napoleon and the other boxer is astonished. Napoleon punches the boxer with the hand inside his jacket. The boxer falls, stunned. Horizontally he shoots off stage. Shot of cat, watching unimpressed. Napoleon does one-legged pixilated dance across stage and off, immediately reappearinng on other side of stage doing same dance in same direction. He reaches the other side, but is halted by a traffic policeman. The policeman beckons onto the stage a man in a penguin skin on a pogostick. The penguin gets halfway across and then turns into a dustbin. Napoleon hops off stage. Policeman goes to dustbin, opens it and Napoleon gets out. Shot of cat, still unmoved. A nude man with a towel round his waist gets out of the dustbin. Napoleon points at ground. A chair appears where he points. The nude man gets on to the chair, jumps in the air and vanishes. Then Napoleon points to ground by him and a small cannon appears. Napoleon fires cannon and the policeman disappears. The man with the towel round his waist gets out of the dustbin and is chased off stage by the penguin on the pogostick. A sedan chair is carried on stage by two chefs. The man with the towel gets out and the penguin appears from the dustbin and chases him off. Napoleon points to sedan chair and it changes into dustbin. Man in towel runs back on to stage and jumps in dustbin. He looks out and the penguin appears from the other dustbin and hits him on the head with a raw chicken. Shot of cat still unimpressed. Napoleon, the man with the towel round his waist, the policeman, a boxer, and a chef suddenly appear standing in a line, and take a bow. They immediately change positions and take another bow. The penguin appears at the end of the line with a puff of smoke. Each one in turn jumps in the air and vanishes. Shot of passive cat.
Cut to Mr A and Mrs B watching with the general.
…aaaaaand compare with the actual finished product (the extract is from 2:10 onwards or so, but you should really watch the whole thing – I won’t tell you the ending in case it spoils it)
Imagine writing that (about a cat). Pretty phat. And yet when you see the sketch, it all sort of makes sense.