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Brand New Monty Python Bok, The

'What do you want?' 'Dirty books!' The naughty bits

Their first effort, the Big Red Book, may have invented the TV comedy picture book as a genre (if not quite, as Python’s main literary driving force Eric Idle claimed, the entire Christmas book market), but the second go round had more money, more anticipation, and best of all, bags more ideas. The invention began with the dust jacket, authentically printed with grubby fingerprints on its pristine white surface, encouraging bookshops to either send them back – and receive more soiled books by return of post – or attempt to display them without the jackets, thus uncovering the salacious montage above. Used to being kicked about the schedules by the Beeb, the Pythons were in no mood to make friends with the book trade.

Inside, there were more fancy tricks – a false school library card, two pull-out pamphlets and an attempt to beat the record for the most words ever on one page (failed). The tone was all over the shop, from the bewilderingly drab (How to Become a Segas Employee) to the, er, unforgettable sight of Graham Chapman’s ‘Right to Mast’ campaign. Michael Palin worried that the filthy stuff was in danger of overtaking the book, but it works like the Python shows at their best – an abrupt and delightfully bizarre change of gear every other page. Dozens of imitators followed in its wake, many great on their own terms, but the comedy book never got better than this.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Miche Doherty

    October 9, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    The woman at the cashdesk in the University Bookshop, Belfast, lo these many moons ago, initially refused to take my money for the Papperbok because of the fake school library slip inside the cover. “It’s a library book,” she kept saying. “You’re playing a joke.” Looking back, I wonder why I didn’t say “You’re right, I was kidding, it’s a library book” and walk out with the bleeding thing.

  2. B B Beyer

    October 11, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    I think the closest current equivalent TV comedy picture book, in terms of the mixtures of layout and styles, is the “Big Book of Top Gear” (2010 edition available now in all good bookshops. And a few crap ones as well, presumably.)

  3. TV Cream

    October 11, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Actually, Harry Hill’s new TV Burp book is a worthy late addition (edition?) to this genre… complete with faux Look-in-style picture-strips.

  4. Lee James Turnock

    May 20, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    ‘Hamsters – A Warning’ is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen (“When the blood starts pouring you don’t want to spoil things with a slippery grip!”) and that goes double for the Terry Gilliam ‘fairy tale’ at the beginning – “Just because I’m old and smell funny and can’t make it to the toilet on time. Punks”. The Graham Chapman ‘right to mast’ thing did have a grain of truth at its core, since Dr Chapman’s favoured sexual activity (according to the ‘Life of Graham’ biography) was mutual masturbation, to which he referred as “the cross-hands boogie”. In fact, the inclusion of the complete ‘Spanish package holidays’ monologue (written by Cleese and Chapman and delivered brilliantly by Idle) is almost worth the cover price alone.

  5. Richard Davies

    June 7, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    My Dad had a copy but it went in a clear-out (shame!).

    The guide to DIY operations was one thing that stands out in my mind.

  6. Sleazy Martinez

    November 8, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    We had a bit of a Python phase in Junior 3 off the back of the 1979 repeats and someone brought this book into class (presumably nicked from their father’s bookcase). The “Tits ‘N’ Bums” cover was an education to an eight year old such as I and I still feel a bit funny when I look at it now.

    Page 71 is, of course, the greatest joke of the lot (although I still have a lot of time for Norman Henderson’s diary).

  7. Zastrozzi

    February 9, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    The advert for the Welsh martial art ‘Llap Goch’ inspired a flurry of beating each other up at my school, in much the same way as the Goodies’ ‘Ecky Thump’ did. Only more violent.

    “the BEST way to protect yourself AGAINST any ASSAILANT is to ATTACK him before he attacks YOU… Or BETTER… BEFORE the THOUGHT of doing so has EVEN OCCURRED TO HIM!!!”

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