Dead Parrot

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The "Dead Parrot Sketch", alternatively and originally known as the "Pet Shop Sketch" or "Parrot Sketch", is a popular sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus, and one of the most famous in the history of British television comedy.[1][2] It was written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman and first performed in the eighth episode of the show's first series, "Full Frontal Nudity" (7 December 1969). The sketch portrays a conflict between disgruntled customer Mr Praline (played by Cleese) and a shopkeeper (Michael Palin), who hold contradictory positions on the vital state of a "Norwegian Blue" parrot. It pokes fun at the many euphemisms for death used in British culture.

The "Dead Parrot" sketch was inspired by a "Car Salesman" sketch that Palin and Chapman had done in How to Irritate People. In it, Palin played a car salesman who repeatedly refused to admit that there was anything wrong with his customer's (Chapman) car, even as it fell apart in front of him. That sketch was based on an actual incident between Palin and a car salesman.[3] In Monty Python Live at Aspen, Palin said that this salesman "had an excuse for everything." John Cleese said on the same show that he and Chapman "believed that there was something very funny there, if we could find the right context for it."

Over the years, Cleese and Palin have done many versions of the "Dead Parrot" sketch for various television shows, record albums, and live performances.

Contents

Plot

Mr. Praline enters the pet shop to register a complaint about the dead Norwegian Blue parrot just as the shopkeeper is preparing to close the establishment for lunch. Despite being told that the bird is deceased and that it had been nailed to its perch, the proprietor insists that it is "pining for the fjords" or simply "stunned". As the exasperated Praline attempts to wake up the parrot, the shopkeeper tries to make the bird move by hitting the cage, and Praline erupts into a rage after banging "Polly Parrot" on the counter. After listing off several terms for death, he is told to go to the pet shop run by the shopkeeper's brother in Bolton for a refund, but he is told by the proprietor of that store (who is really the shopkeeper, save for a fake moustache) that he is in Ipswich. Upon going to the railway station to complain, Praline is told by the station attendant (Terry Jones) that he is in Bolton, and he returns to the pet shop to confront the shopkeeper for deceiving him. Adding to the absurdity of it all is the fact that most parrots live in tropical climates, and would never be found in such a cold land as Norway. (Two exception to this are the kea and the kakapo, species of parrot both of which are found in the alpine regions of South Island in New Zealand – an area known as "Fiordland").

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