Monty Python’s And Now For Something Completely Different
Scene 16: Killer Joke
(Opening Scene: A suburban house in a boring looking street. Zoom into upstairs window. Serious documentary music. Interior of small room. A bent figure (Michael Palin) huddles over a table, writing. He is surrounded by bits of paper. The camera is situated facing the man as he writes with immense concentration lining his unshaven face.)
Voice Over : This man is Ernest Scribbler… writer of jokes. In a few moments, he win have written the funniest joke in the world… and, as a consequence, he will die … laughing.
(Ernest stops writing, pauses to look at what he has written… a smile slowly spreads across his face, turning very, very slowly to uncontrolled hysterical laughter… he staggers to his feet and reels across room helpless with mounting mirth and eventually collapses and dies on the floor.)
Voice Over: It was obvious that this joke was lethal… no one could read it and live …
(Ernest’s mother (Eric Idle in drag) enters. She sees him dead, she gives a little cry of horror and bends over his body, weeping. Brokenly she notices thepiece of paper in his hand and picks it up and reads it between her sobs. Immediately she breaks out into hysterical laughter, leaps three feet into the air, and fa11s down dead without more ado. Cut to news type shot of commentator standing in front of the house.)
Commentator: This morning, shortly after eleven o’clock, comedy struck this little house in Dibley Road. Sudden …violent … comedy. Police have sealed off the area, and Scotland Yard’s crack inspector is with me now.
Inspector: I shall enter the house and attempt to remove the joke.
(About now an upstairs window in the house is fiung open and a doctor, rears his head out, hysterical with laughter, and dies hanging over the window sill. The commentator and the inspector look up and then continue as if they are used to such sights.)
Inspector: I shall be aided by the sound of sombre music, played on gramophone records, and also by the chanting of laments by the men of Q Division … (Inspector points to a grouo of dour looking policemen standing nearby) The atmosphere thus created should protect me in the eventuality of me reading the joke. He gives a signal. The group of policemen start groaning and chanting biblical laments. The Dead March is heard. The inspector squares his shoulders and bravely starts walking into the house.
Commentator: There goes a brave man. Whether he comes out alive or not, this will surely be remembered as one of the most courageous and gallant acts in police history.
(The inspector suddenly appears at the door, helpless with laughter, holding the joke aloft. He collapses and dies. Cut to film of army vans driving along dark roads.)
Voice Over: It was not long before the Army became interested in the military potential of the Killer Joke. Under top security, the joke washurried to a meeting of Allied Commanders at the Ministry of War.
(Cut to door at Ham House: Soldier on guard comes to attention as dispatch rider hurries in carrying armoured box. (Notice on door: ‘Conference. No Admittance’.) Dispatch nider rushes in. A door opens for him and closes behind him. We hear a mighty roar of laughter… . series of doomphs as the commanders hit the floor or table. Soldier outside does not move a muscle.)
(Cut to a pillbox on the Salisbury Plain. Track in to slit to see moustachioed top brass peering anxiously out.)
Voice Over: Top brass were impressed. Tests on Salisbury Plain confirmed the joke’s devastating effectiveness at a range of up to fifty yards.
(Cut to shot looking out of slit in pillbox. Camera zooms through slit to distance where a solitary figure is standing on the windswept plain. He is a bespectacled, weedy lance-corporal looking cold and miserable. Pan across to fifty yards away where two helmeted soldiers are at their positions beside a blackboard on an easel covered with a cloth.
Cut in to corporal’s face- registering complete lack of comprehension as well as stupidity. Man on top of pillbox waves flag. The soldiers reveal the joke to the corporal. He peers at it, thinks about its meaning, sniggers, and dies. Two watching generals are very impressed.)
Cut to a Colonel talking to camera.
Colonel: All through the winter of ’43 we had translators working, in joke-proof conditions, to try and produce a German version of the joke. They worked on one word each for greater safety. One of them saw two words of the joke and spent several weeks in hospital. But apart from that things went pretty quickly, and we soon had the joke by January, in a form which our troops couldn’t understand but which the Germans could.
(Cut to a trench in the Ardennes· Members of the joke brigade are crouched holding pieces of paper with the joke on them.)
Voice Over: So, on July 8th, I944, the joke was first told to the enemy in the Ardennes…
Commanding NCO: Tell the … joke.
Joke Brigade: (together) Wenn ist das Nunstrück git und Slotermeyer? Ja!… Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!
(Pan out of the British trench across war-torn landscape and come to rest where presumably the German trench is. There is a pause and then a group of Germans rear up in hysterics.)
Voice Over: It was a fantastic success. Over sixty thousand times as powerful as Britain’s great pre-war joke …
Cut to a film of Chamberlain brandishing the ‘Peace in our time’ bit of paper … and one which Hider just couldn’t match.
Film of Hitler rally. Hitler speaks; subtitles are superimposed.
SUBTITLE: ‘MY DOG’S GOT NO NOSE’
A young soldier responds:
SUBTITLE: HOW DOES HE SMELL?