Upper Class Twit of the Year


Upper Class Twit of the Year

The Upper Class Twit of the Year is a classic comedy sketch that was seen on the TV show "Monty Python's Flying Circus", and also in a modified format as the finale of the movie "And Now For Something Completely Different". It is notable for its savage satirisation of dim-witted members of the English upper class.

Scenario

To a horse race style commentary by John Cleese, it is about an obstacle-course race among five stereotypical, upper-class twits (imbeciles), to determine the 127th Annual Upper-Class Twit of the Year.

The competitors are:

*Vivian Smith-Smythe-Smith (portrayed by Eric Idle in "MPFC" and John Cleese in "ANFSCD")
**Has an O-level in kennel hygiene
**Can count up to 4
*Simon Zinc-Trumpet-Harris (portrayed by Terry Jones in "MPFC" and Eric Idle in "ANFSCD")
**Married to a very attractive table lamp
*Nigel Incubator-Jones (portrayed by John Cleese in "MPFC" and Terry Jones in "ANFSCD")
**Best friend is a tree
**Stockbroker in his spare time
*Gervaise Brook-Hampster (portrayed by Michael Palin in both versions)
**Used as a waste-paper basket by his father
*Oliver St. John-Mollusc (portrayed by Graham Chapman in both versions)
**Said to be this year's outstanding twit.
**His father was a Cabinet Minister, and his mother won the Derby.

At the start, the twits face the wrong way, so the starter turns them round. Then they don't run because they don't know they have to move when the gun goes off. The starter explains the idea to the twits, who respond by laughing and pointing at him.

The obstacles are:

*Walking Along The Straight Line
**The Twits must walk along one of several narrow straight lines.
*The Matchbox Jump
**The Twits must jump over a fence three matchboxes high. In "And Now For Something Completely Different", this is changed to two matchboxes. Simon (Vivian in the film) refuses the fence.
*Kicking The Beggar
**The Twits must approach a beggar with a tray and kick him until he falls over.
*The Hunt Ball Photograph
**The Twits must have their photographs taken and make small talk with a pair of attractive females. This obstacle is not in "And Now For Something Completely Different".
*Reversing Into The Old Lady
**The Twits must get into their sports cars and reverse them into a cardboard cut-out of an old lady, then speed off. Oliver St. John-Mollusc proves his outstanding twitness by managing to run himself over. This leads straight into...
*Waking The Neighbour
**The Twits must drive their cars forwards and then attempt to wake up a neighbour who is attempting to get some sleep by slamming their doors, tooting their horns, etc.
*Insulting The Waiter
**The Twits must be thoroughly rude to a waiter with a tray. This obstacle is not in "And Now For Something Completely Different".
*The Bar
**The Twits must make their way underneath a wooden bar suspended five feet off the ground. This obstacle is not in "And Now For Something Completely Different".
*Shooting The Rabbits
**Each Twit is given a shotgun, and he must shoot a rabbit that has been tied very firmly to stakes so it can't move around very much (as the Upper-Class Twit of the Year is only a one-day event). Several of the Twits are forced to bludgeon the rabbits to death with the butt of their gun or a fist. Their failure to hit the rabbits with their bullets is attributed to the misty conditions (caused by the smoke from the guns) and the shooting distance of one foot.
*Taking The Bras Off The Debutantes
**The Twits must remove a bra from a mannequin representing a debutante while standing in front of it. It is claimed to be the most difficult obstacle by the commentator: many of the Twits even dismember the mannequins in their attempts to remove the bras, and a few still have bras (often with torsos still dangling from them) stuck to their hands as they go on to the final event:
*Shooting Themselves
**Finally, the Twits approach a table with five revolvers on it. The winner is the first Twit to shoot himself.

The sketch ends with Gervaise Brook-Hampster coming in first, followed by Smith-Smythe-Smith (shot by Nigel) and Nigel Incubator-Jones in a medal ceremony, while Simon Zinc-Trumpet-Harris manages to club himself unconscious. The three coffins of the winning Twits are placed on the medal rostrum and medals are draped around them. Cleese ends his commentary by remarking that "there'll certainly be some car door slamming in the streets of Kensington tonight".

Production

* In "MPFC" there is a very small crowd, which is mainly made up of cardboard cut-outs of donkeys, whereas in "ANFSCD" stock footage of large crowds in stadiums is used.

* The sketch was filmed at Hurlingham Park in Fulham, a location presumably chosen for its proximity to Television Centre.

Inspiration for sketch

*The sketch has obvious connections to the works of P.G. Wodehouse, whose characterisations of Bertie Wooster and his chums in the Wooster and Jeeves short stories were the original satirisations of upper class twits.

*John Cleese has stated that the idea for the "wake the neighbour" part was inspired by an apartment he once rented that was near a bar whose patrons kept him awake at night when they slammed the doors to their cars.

Reaction and legacy

* Cleese has humorously suggested that this one sketch is the reason why he never received a British honour. In reality, he declined the honour of Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for politically motivated reasons.

* Monty Python's Flying Circus was cancelled after four episodes in Finnish TV in 1970s after this sketch appeared. This was done because it was said that the sketch was offending people who had cerebral palsy.

* Many years later the comic Harry Enfield portrayed a more likeable upper class twit with his character Tim Nice-But-Dim.

External links

* [http://orangecow.org/pythonet/sketches/uppercls.htm Complete transcript]


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