Series 2, Episode 20: Idiot in Society
FIRST VOICE OVER John Cleese
SECOND VOICE OVER Eric Idle
FIGGIS John Cleese
MR. JENKINS Michael Palin
BANK MANAGER Graham Chapman
THIRD VOICE OVER Michael Palin
CLERK Terry Jones
OLD IDIOT Eric Idle
KEVIN John Cleese
IDIOT John Cleese
FIRST CITY IDIOT John Cleese
SECOND CITY IDIOT Michael Palin
THIRD CITY IDIOT Graham Chapman
FOURTH CITY IDIOT Terry Jones
INTERVIEWER Graham Chapman
FIRST IDIOT Michael Palin
SECOND IDIOT Graham Chapman
THIRD IDIOT Eric Idle
FOURTH IDIOT John Cleese
FIFTH IDIOT Terry Jones
(Animation: a vicious rampaging bun)
Voice Over: Well that’s all for Attila the Bun, and now – idiots!
(A village idiot in smock and straw hat, red cheeks, straw in mouth, sitting on a wall, making funny noises and rolling his eyes.)
1st Voice Over: Arthur Figgis is an idiot. A village idiot. Tonight we look at the idiot in society.
(Cut to close-up of Figgis talking to camera. Very big close-up losing the top and bottom of his head.)
Figgis: (educated voice) Well I feel very keenly that the idiot is a part of the old village system, and as such has a vital role to play in a modern rural society, because you see … (suddenly switches to rural accent) ooh ar ooh ar before the crops go gey are in the medley crun and the birds slides nightly on the oor ar … (vicar passes and gives him sixpence) Ooh ar thankee, Vicar … (educated voice) There is this very real need in society for someone whom almost anyone can look down on and ridicule. And this is the role that … ooh ar naggy gamly rangle tandie oogly noogle Goblie oog… (passing lady gives him sixpence) Thank you, Mrs. Thompson… this is the role that I and members of my family have fulfilled in this village for the past four hundred years… Good morning, Mr. Jenkins, ICI have increased their half-yearly dividend, I see.
(We see Mr. Jenkins pass, he is also an idiot, identically dressed.)
Mr. Jenkins: Yes, splendid.
Figgis: That’s Mr. Jenkins – he’s another idiot. And so you see the idiot does provide a vital psycho-social service for this community. Oh, excuse me, a coach party has just arrived. I shall have to fall off the wall, I’m afraid.
(He falls backwards off the wall. Cut to Figgins in idiot’s costume coming out of a suburban home. He walks on to the lawn on which are several pieces of gym equipment. He runs head-on into horse (speeded up) and falls over, concussed.)
2nd Voice Over: Arthur takes idiotting seriously. He is up at six o’clock every morning working on special training equipment designed to keep him silly. And of course he takes great pride in his appearance.
(Figgis, dressed in nice clean smock, jumps into a pond He immediately scrambles up, pulls out a mirror and pats mud an his face critically, as if making-up.)
2nd Voice Over: Like the doctor, the blacksmith, the carpenter, Mr Figgis is an important figure in this village and – like them – he uses the local bank.
(Village square. A bank. Figgis is walking towards it. People giggling and pointing. He goes into a silly routine. Figgis enters the bank. Cut to bank manager standing outside bank. Caption on screen: ‘M. BRANDO – BANK MANAGER’)
Bank Manager: Yes, we have quite a number of idiots banking here.
3rd Voice Over: What kind of money is there in idiotting?
Manager: Well nowadays a really blithering idiot can make anything up to ten thousand pounds a year – if he’s the head of some big industrial combine. But of course, the more old-fashioned idiot still refuses to take money.
(We see Figgis handing over a cheque to cashier; cashier pushes across a pile of moss, pebbles, bits of wood and acorns.)
Manager: (voice over) He takes bits of string, wood, dead budgerigars sparrows, anything, but it does make the cashier’s job very difficult; but of course they’re fools to themselves because the rate of interest over ten years on a piece of moss or a dead vole is almost negligible.
(A clerk appears at door of bank.)
Clerk: Mr Brando.
Clerk: Hollywood on the phone.
Manager: I’ll take it in the office.
(Cut to a woodland glade.)
3rd Voice Over: But Mr Figgis is no ordinary idiot. He is a lecturer in idiocy at the University of East Anglia. Here he is taking a class of third-year students.
(Half a dozen loonies led by Figgis come dancing through the glade singing tunelessly. They are wearing long University scarves.)
3rd Voice Over: After three years of study these apprentice idiots receive a diploma of idiocy, a handful of mud and a kick on the head.
(A vice-chancellor stands in a University setting with some young idiots in front of him. They wear idiot gear with BA hoods. One walks forward to him, he gets a diploma, a fateful of mud and stoops to receive his kick on the head. Cut to happy parents smiling proudly.)
3rd Voice Over: But some of the older idiots resent the graduate idiot.
Old Idiot: I’m a completely self-taught idiot. I mean, ooh arh, nob arhh, nob arhh …. nobody does that anymore. Anybody who did that round here would be laughed off the street. No, nowadays people want something wittier.
(Wife empties breakfast over him. Cut to idiot falling repeatedly off a wall.)
3rd Voice Over: Kevin O’Nassis works largely with walls.
Kevin: (voice over) You’ve got to know what you’re doing. I mean, some people think I’m mad. The villagers say I’m mad, the tourists say I’m mad, well I am mad, but I’m naturally mad. I don’t use any chemicals.
3rd Voice Over: But what of the idiot’s private life? How about his relationship with women?
(Idiot in bed. Pull back to reveal he shares it with two very young, thin,
Idiot: Well I may be an idiot but I’m no fool.
Voice Over: But the village idiot’s dirty smock and wall-falling are a far cry from the modern world of the urban idiot. (stock film of city gents in their own clothes pouring out of trains) What kinds of backgrounds do these city idiots come from?
(Vox pops film of city gents. Subtitles explain their exaggerated accents.)
First City Idiot: Eton, Sandhurst and the Guards, ha, ha, ha, ha.
Second City Idiot: I can’t remember but I’ve got it written down some where.
Third City Idiot: Daddy’s a banker. He needed a wastepaper basket.
Fourth City Idiot: Father was Home Secretary and mother won the Derby.
(Cut to a commentator with mike in close-up. Pull back in his speech, to discover he is standing in front of the main gate at Lords cricket ground.)
Interviewer: The headquarters of these urban idiots is here in St. John’s Wood. Inside they can enjoy the company of other idiots and watch special performances of ritual idiotting.
(Cut to quick wide-shot of cricket match being played at Lords. Cut to five terribly old idiots watching.)
First Idiot: Well left.
Second Idiot: Well played.
Third Idiot: Well well.
Fourth Idiot: Well bred.
Fifth Idiot: (dies) Ah!
(Another very quick wide-shot of Lords. There is nothing at all happening and we can ‘t distinguish anyone.)