Spam (Monty Python)


Spam (Monty Python)

"Spam" is a popular Monty Python sketch, first televised in 1970. In the sketch, two customers are trying to order a breakfast from a menu that includes the processed meat product in almost every dish. The term "spam" (in electronic communication, and as of 2008, general slang) is derived from this sketch. [ [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spam spam - Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary ] ]

It features Terry Jones as The Waitress, Eric Idle as Mr. Bun and Graham Chapman as Mrs. Bun. The televised sketch also featured John Cleese as The Hungarian and Michael Palin as a historian, but this part was left out of audio recordings of the sketch.

Sketch

Only three and a half minutes long, it builds up into a semi-argument between the waitress who has a menu limited to having Spam in just about everything ("Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, baked beans, Spam, Spam, Spam and Spam"), and Mrs Bun, who is the only one in the room who does not want it. She asks for an item with the Spam removed (despite there already being some items mentioned that do not actually include Spam), much to the amazement of her Spam-loving husband. Eventually, Mrs Bun resorts to screaming, "I don't like Spam!"

At several points, a group of Vikings in the restaurant (referred to as the Green Midget Café in Bromley) interrupt conversation by loudly singing "Spam, lovely Spam, wonderful Spam." They are interrupted by the waitress several times, but they resume singing more and more loudly until the sketch cuts to an historian talking about the Vikings, "...and Spam selecting a Spam particular Spam item from the Spam menu, would Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam..." as the singing continues on and on...

It premiered on December 15, 1970 as the final sketch of the 25th show of "Monty Python's Flying Circus", and the following end credits were changed so every member of the crew has either Spam or some other food item from the menu added to their names. (Spam Terry Jones, Michael Spam Palin, John Spam John Spam John Spam Cleese, Graham Spam Spam Spam Chapman, Eric Spam Egg and Chips Idle, Terry Spam Sausage Spam Egg Spam Gilliam, etc.) The sketch became immensely popular. The word "Spam" is uttered at least 132 times.

This sketch has also been featured in several Monty Python videos including "Parrot Sketch Not Included - 20 Years of Monty Python".

The DVD release of the sketch contains a deliberate subtitling error. When the Hungarian tries to order food, his words are "My lower intestine is full of Spam, Egg, Spam, Bacon, Spam, Tomatoes, Spam." Yet the subtitles read "Your intestine is full of "Sperm"." This is a continuation of the "Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook" sketch, earlier in the episode. The subtitles are a continuation to an argument some Python fans have waged over whether the Hungarian is saying "Spam" (which would be logical) or "Sperm" (which would tie in better with the Hungarian phrasebook's wording).

The audio version of the sketch, since the Hungarian and historian are not featured, instead has the Vikings reaching an operatic climax.

Spam was one of the few meats excluded from the British food rationing that began in World War II and continued for a number of years after the war, and the British grew heartily tired of it, hence the sketch.

Impact

The phenomenon, some years later, of marketers drowning out discourse by flooding Usenet newsgroups and individuals' email with junk mail advertising messages was named spamming, due to some early internet users that flooded forums with the word "spam" [http://www.templetons.com/brad/spamterm.html Origin of the term "spam" to mean net abuse] ] recounting the repetitive and unwanted presence of Spam in the sketch. This phenomenon has been reported in court decisions handed down in lawsuits against spammers - see, for example, "CompuServe Inc. v. Cyber Promotions, Inc.", 962 F.Supp. 1015, n. 1 (S.D.Ohio 1997).

The Python programming language prefers to use spam and eggs as metasyntactic variables, instead of the traditional foo and bar.

Hormel's response

The Hormel company, the makers of the meat product Spam, while never quite happy with the use of the word "spam" for junk email, have always seemed supportive of Monty Python and their sketch. Hormel issued a special tin of Spam for the Broadway premiere of Eric Idle's hit musical "Spamalot". Also, the sketch is part of the company's Spam museum in Austin, MN, United States and is performed every day by local actors. The sketch has also been mentioned in Spam's on-can advertisements for the product's 70th anniversary in 2007, though the date of the Python sketch mentioned is incorrect (1971 when it should be 1970).

In 2007 the Hormel company decided that such publicity was part of their corporate image, possibly for the better, and sponsored a game where their product is strongly associated with the Monty Python http://www.spamspamspamspam.co.uk even featuring a product with "Stinky French Garlic" as part of the promotion of SPAMalot, a musical based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Cultural references

*Comedy rap act Sudden Death incorporated the Monty Python Spam chant (albeit sung by the band, not sampled from the sketch) into the chorus of their song "Spam", though the song is about the junk-e-mail "spam" and not the meat product "Spam".
*Spam is mentioned in the Camelot scene of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", where the Knights of the Round Table sing that they "eat ham and jam and Spam a lot". "Spamalot" then became the name of the Monty Python musical based on the film.

References

External links

*cite web
url = http://www.templetons.com/brad/spamterm.html
title = Origin of the term "spam" to mean net abuse
author = Brad Templeton| authorlink=Brad Templeton
accessdate = 2007-01-21| date = Wed, 27 Apr 2005 23:17:27 GMT| publisher = Brad Templeton


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