Monday, November 17, 2014

TV Quote of the Day (‘Monty Python,’ With the ‘All-England Summarise Proust Competition’)

Host Arthur Mee (played by Terry Jones): “Good evening and welcome, whereas Proust would say, 'la malade imaginaire de recondition et de toute surveillance est bientôt la même chose'. (roars of applause; quick shot of grinning faces of the jury) Remember each contestant this evening has a maximum of fifteen seconds to sum up 'A La Recherche du Temps Perdu' and on the Proustometer over here...” (curtain pulls back at back of stage to reveal a true, enormous, but cheap, audience appreciation gauge; it lists the seven books of Proust's masterwork in the firm of a thermometer) “you can see exactly how far he gets. So let's crack straight on with our first contestant tonight. He's last year's semi-finalist from Luton – Mr. Harry Baggot.” (Baggot, in evening dress, comes forward from back of stage, with a number three on his back.) “Hello, Harry. Now there's the summarizing spot—you're on the summarizing spot, fifteen seconds from now.”

(Music starts, continuity-type music. The needle of the Proustometer creeps up almost inperceptibly to a tiny level.)

Harry (played by Graham Chapman): “Proust's novel ostensibly tells of the irrevocability of time lost, the forfeiture of innocence through experience, the reinstallment of extra-temporal values of time regained. Ultimately the novel is both optimistic and set within the context of a humane religious experience, re-stating as it does the concept of intemporality. In the first volume, Swann, the family friend visits...”

(Gong goes, chord of music, applause. The meter has hardly risen at all.)

Mee: “Well tried, Harry.”

Voice Over  (provided by John Cleese): “A good attempt there but unfortunately he chose a general appraisal of the work, before getting on to the story and as you can see” (close up of Proustometer) “he only got as far as page one of 'Swann's Way', the first of the seven volumes. A good try, though, and very nice posture.”— Monty Python's Flying Circus, Season 3, Episode 5, “The All-England Summarise Proust Competition,” air date November 16, 1972, teleplay by Chapman, Cleese, Eric Idle, Jones, Michael Palin, and Terry Gilliam, directed by Ian MacNaughton

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