1. "It's not pining, it's passed on! This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late parrot! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed it to the perch, it would be pushing up the daisies! It's rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-parrot!"
John Cleese, 1969
OK, this is a bit of a hefty quote, but we couldn't very well trim down one of the most beloved rants in British comedy history. Also, memorise this and you'll never be stuck for what to say at a funeral.
2. "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!"
Michael Palin, 1970.
Not very funny out of context, but pant-moisteningly hilarious when delivered by a shrill, crazed Michael Palin. Bounding into sketches and threatening to torture old ladies with soft cushions and "the comfy chair", his Inquisitor is possibly the finest character in all Python-land.
3. "Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam!"
Terry Jones, 1970.
With a voice like a camp klaxon, Terry Jones's greasy spoon waitress runs through a menu crammed with the famed processed meat product, in a sketch based entirely around the maddening repetition of the word "Spam". True trivia tidbit: This sketch is the reason why we call unwanted email "spam" today.
4. "I cut down trees, I skip and jump, I like to press wild flowers. I put on women's clothing and hang around in bars."
Michael Palin, 1969.
Comedy songs can be cringe-inducingly unfunny things. But The Lumberjack Song is perhaps the finest example of the medium ever to be bellowed from a pair of lungs. The chorus of confused Mounties, forced to sing along with the lingerie-loving lumberjack, makes it all the more delicious.
5. "Venezuelan beaver cheese?"
John Cleese, 1972.
Attempting to purchase a snack from Britain's least well-stocked cheese shop, John Cleese rattles through a long, long list of cheeses which they don't sell ? including "Venezuelan beaver cheese", which is now probably the most famous made-up dairy product in the world. Wonder if it goes nicely with some piccalilli?
Michael Palin, 1969.
Many a Python episode begins with a bedraggled, panting, exhausted man running up to the camera (after swimming through crashing waves, trudging through a forest or falling off a cliff) to finally catch his breath and tell us one thing: "It's?" Cue the title music. It's a brilliantly protracted, perfectly pointless intro to the shenanigans to come.
7. "Let me tell you something, my lad. When you're walking home tonight and some great homicidal maniac comes after you with a bunch of loganberries, don't come crying to me!"
John Cleese, 1969.
If you enroll at a martial arts class, what's the one thing you want to learn? That's right: how to fend off someone attacking you with a piece of fresh fruit. Instructor John Cleese knows this very well, even if some of his students don't really feel all that threatened by greengages, passionfruit and grapefruit (whole and segments).
8. "Bally Jerry pranged his kite right in the how's-your-father; hairy blighter, dicky-birded, feathered back on his sammy, took a waspy, flipped over on his Betty Harpers and caught his can in the Bertie."
Eric Idle, 1974.
Posh people are generally funny. Posh people bantering is even funnier. But posh people bantering in a way so nonsensical that they can't understand each other? That's funniest of all, as the Pythons demonstrated with their RAF officers who were prone to coming out with statements that would have confused even the most ardent military codebreakers.
9. "My hovercraft is full of eels."
John Cleese, 1970
It was hard to pick just one quote from the classic sketch involving a Hungarian and his extremely faulty phrasebook. We could easily have opted for one of his other failed attempts to ask a tobacconist for cigarettes, such as "Do you want to come back to my place, bouncy bouncy?". Later on he proclaims that "My nipples explode with delight!", but it's the bizarrely effective mental image of an eel-filled hovercraft that really stick in the imagination.
10. "We use only the finest baby frogs, dew picked and flown from Iraq, cleansed in finest quality spring water, lightly killed, and then sealed in a succulent Swiss quintuple smooth treble cream milk chocolate envelope and lovingly frosted with glucose."
Terry Jones, 1969
Even Heston Blumenthal would have had second thoughts about the sweets offered up by Terry Jones's confectionery kingpin. Faced by shocked hygiene officers, he owns up to how "crunchy frog" chocolates are made, and touches upon some of his other creations, including the ram's bladder cup, the anthrax ripple and the cockroach cluster. Delicious.