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Dead Parrot

The "Dead Parrot" sketch is one of the masterpieces of the Monty Python canon. It portrays a confrontation between a disgruntled customer (played by John Cleese) and a shopkeeper (Michael Palin), who hold contradictory positions on the vital state of a parrot of the Norwegian Blue variety. The sketch aired in the eighth episode of the television series.

Over the years, Cleese and Palin have done many, many versions of this sketch for various televison shows/specials, albums and live performances. This is also the case with some other famous Monty Python sketches, such as "Nudge Nudge" and "The Lumberjack Song".

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

A customer enters a pet shop, complaining that the parrot he has recently bought is dead.

The shopkeeper denies this and points out the beauty of its plumage. He suggests that the bird is merely asleep. The customer is unconvinced, especially when shouting and the offer of a lovely fresh cuttlefish fail to evoke a response.

The customer takes the parrot out of the cage and thumps its head on the counter, then throws it up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor. Shopkeeper remains unconvinced, claiming that it is stunned, and that it is pining for the fjords.

Customer points out that the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there. The shopkeeper claims that is to stop it escaping. The customer than utters the immortal words:

"'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!"

The shopkeeper admits defeat, claims that he is right out of parrots, and offers a slug. The dialogue continues:

Customer: Pray, does it talk?
(pause)
Shopkeeper: Nnnnot really.
Customer: WELL IT'S HARDLY A BLOODY REPLACEMENT, IS IT?!!???!!?

The action than moves to Bolton, or possibly Ipswich, or maybe even Notlob (Bolton spelled backward). Much play is made of the location, including the suggestion that the confusion between the towns is due to a pun, or possibly a palindrome.

As seems to be the case with many nonsensical comedy routines, some analyists have searched for a "deeper meaning" hidden within the sketch. Some have interpreted the parrot debate as a sixth level theological argument concerning the existence (or otherwise) of God. Others haven't.

See also: Monty Python's Flying Circus

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