How to Irritate People [1968]

And now for something completely rare. This 1968 television special is essential for connoisseurs of British humor and, of course, Monty Python completists. A pre-Python John Cleese teams up with Michael Palin and Graham Chapman (with invaluable assistance from co-Fawlty Towers creator Connie Booth and Tim Brooke-Taylor) for sketches that serve as a master class in demonstrating insincerity, inefficiency, and all-around rude behavior "to help people become more neurotic." The tricky bit, Cleese teaches, "is to never push the unsuspecting victim too far. With skill and tact, we can keep tensions bottled up for weeks, months, eventually you may induce a nervous breakdown, or better still, actual damage to the brain cells." Cleese and company portray very irritating parents, moviegoers, waiters, and partygoers. Of special interest to Python fans will be an auto mechanic sketch that anticipates the classic "Dead Parrot" sketch, as well as the job interview sketch that later found its way into the Python repertoire. This time capsule gem is, as Cleese observes at one point, "effective, but not very subtle." --Donald Liebenson

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