Gumbys are recurring characters in "
Monty Python's Flying Circus", characterized by a very distinctive appearance. If a name was listed for them, the surname given would always be "Gumby". Gumbys would wear handkerchiefs on their heads, toothbrush moustaches, spectacles, braces, knitted Tank Tops, a 1950s shirt rolled up to the elbows (without the detachable collar), and gumboots. They would usually hold their arms in an ape-like position, speak loudly and slowly, and pronounce words syllable by syllable. Though created by John Cleese, the Gumbys were usually played by (and most affectionately remembered as being embodied by) Michael Palin. The Palin Gumby voice was used to announce the show title in series three. Many times, a Gumby or group of Gumbys would appear as a means of linking sketches, or briefly give their views in one of the Vox Pops segments. Their most notable appearance was in "The Buzz Aldrin Show" where they introduced sketches about architects, insurance, chemists, and the end of the show. A classic line from one of these is during a segment on taxation, where a Gumby, standing knee-deep in a river, says "I would put a tax...on all people... who stand... in water. (He then looks down on his feetwhich are in knee deep of the river) OOH!" They also appeared in their own sketches, such as "Flower Arranging" and "Gumby Brain Surgery".
A popular Gumby catchphrase is "My brain hurts!" which was used in the "Brain Surgery" sketch. This is also heard in the trailer for "
Monty Python and the Holy Grail", when the crew is supposedly "looking" for someone to voice the trailer. Whilst playing a clip of Arthur knighting a peasant, (which, actually, never made it into the final film) a Gumby (as being voiced by Michael Palin) auditions, and after being told to "Go away!" by the casting director (voiced by Eric Idle), he comments, "What's wrong with my voice? My voice is fine, it's my brain that hurts...". Other recurring Gumby elements are a violent and oafish clumsiness, and enthusiasm for banging bricks together.
In the Pythons' 30th Anniversary Special, all the surviving Pythons (except Idle, who was filled in by
Eddie Izzard) played Gumbys.
Normally, no names were given for Gumbys, but occasionally their names were listed in subtitles. Some of the names given for Gumbys were:
* Prof. R.J. Gumby (played by
Graham Chapman, later Michael Palin)
* Prof. F.H. Gumby (played by
* Prof. L.R. Gumby (played by
* Prof. Enid Gumby (played by
* D.P. Gumby (played by
In choirs the term "Gumby Part" has come to be used for the slow
cantus firmuspart in some polyphonic music, because of the apparent simplicity of the part.
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