Cheese Shop sketch

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The Cheese Shop is a well-known sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus.[1][2]

It appears in episode 33, "Salad Days". The script for the sketch is included in the book The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus : All the Words, Volume 2.[3]

The idea for the sketch came after a day of shooting in Folkestone Harbour, where John Cleese threw up repeatedly. During the drive back, Graham Chapman said that Cleese should eat something and asked if he fancied anything; Cleese replied that he fancied a piece of cheese. Upon seeing a chemist's shop, Cleese pondered whether they had cheese and they decided to write a skit on that idea. However, when they sat down the following day to write it, they found the original idea of someone asking for cheese in a chemist's shop to be unrealistic and instead decided to write a sketch about someone who goes to a cheese shop that did not have a single piece of cheese.

Chapman then wrote the sketch with Cleese, who initially did not find the sketch humorous. Only after Chapman insisted it was funny, it was presented at a reading for the other Python members. At this reading, while others were equally unimpressed, Michael Palin laughed hysterically, eventually falling on the floor. The other Pythons laughed at the scene, and agreed on producing the sketch.[4]



John Cleese plays an erudite customer (Mousebender in the script) attempting to purchase some cheese from 'Ye National Cheese Emporium, purveyor of fine cheese to the gentry (and the poverty-stricken too)'. The proprietor, Mr. Henry Wensleydale (Michael Palin), appears to have no stock, not even Cheddar, "the single most popular cheese in the world". A slow crescendo of bouzouki music plays in the background (for which Cleese initially expresses appreciation, being '... one who delights in all manifestations of the Terpsichorean Muse'), but as the sketch progresses it mirrors Cleese's growing frustration until he loudly demands the music cease. As Cleese lists increasingly obscure, unsavoury, and, in one instance then fictional, cheeses to no avail, the proprietor offers weak excuses such as "Ohh! The cat's eaten it." Cleese remarks that it's not much of a cheese shop, but Palin insists it is the best in the district due to its cleanliness, to which Cleese replies "Well, it's certainly uncontaminated by cheese." Eventually, Cleese asks if Palin has any cheese at all, to which Palin replies "yes". Cleese then tells him that he will ask the question again, and if Palin says "no", he will shoot him through the head. Palin answers "no" the second time, and Cleese immediately shoots him, then muses, "What a senseless waste of human life!" He then puts on a Stetson, and the sketch segues into Hugh Walpole's Rogue Cheddar and a link to the Sam Peckinpah's "Salad Days" sketch.

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