Articles & Notes — May 6, 2016 at 11:23 am

How Monty Python has stayed relevant through licensing

monty-pythonBritish comedy group Monty Python is remarkably well known to even younger generations today, given that they debuted in 1969. Their first project was the infamous Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a 45-episode sketch comedy series that aired on BBC from 1969-1973.

But it’s largely thanks to the 1975 film Monty Python And The Holy Grail that the group found enduring international fame. That’s by no means to suggest that their other works aren’t just as funny or as well respected in parts of the world, but Holy Grail can safely be called the group’s crowning achievement.

The style of comedy in Monty Python And The Holy Grail – distinctly British but also generally absurd – holds up remarkably well 40 years after its initial release. Indeed, young people watching the film for the first time today may be just as likely to end up crying from laughter as those who saw it in the ’70s.

But it’s not only the enduring popularity of one of their greatest works that’s kept Monty Python relevant. The group has actually been surprisingly active in distributing its image and content in other forms of media as a means of reaching out to modern audiences and old fans alike.

The clearest instances of this sort of outreach have been theatrical shows produced in collaboration with Monty Python members, but not actually technically falling under the umbrella of troupe projects. Monty Python’s Spamalot is the most famous of the live shows, and it was written by Eric Idle with some outside collaboration.

Debuted in 2004, the show had a successful early run that resulted in a few Tony Awards, and looking at Eventful you can see that it’s still running in various parts of the U.S. The show is performed in Monty Python’s name by all kinds of different theater groups. Not The Messiah (He’s A Very Naughty Boy) is the other noteworthy theatrical Python project, though it was a musical oratorio rather than an actual stage play.

Perhaps the most surprising and interesting modern outreach by Monty Python, however, has come in the form of several fairly prominent video games. The comedy troupe has established licensing agreements resulting in these games’ production and bringing the name Monty Python to some pretty new areas of entertainment.

For instance, the most recent effort is a 2014 app by Boondoggle Studios that turns the troupe’s famous “Ministry Of Silly Walks” skit into a mobile gaming experience. The game achieves a wonderful balance in that it’s a blast for Monty Python fans, but it’s also a game that, if you were to come across it with no knowledge of the underlying skit, might make you inclined to check the troupe out.

The company has allowed other games to be created with its license as well, but perhaps the most interesting is the Life of Brian-based game featured among the slots on Gala Casino. The game does a wonderful job of employing Monty Python-esque graphics, sound effects, and music to capture the feel of the comedy troupe in, of all things, a slot machine.

It’s actually a perfect example of how licensing agreements can help a given title, group, or company reach new audiences, especially those with such die-hard fans. In this case, Gala caters to those fans not just with imagery but a hilarious “Foot of God” bonus round.

It should be mentioned that Monty Python has also continued to thrive in the 21st century because they themselves have been quite active. From reunion tours to book releases, they’ve continued to produce both new and familiar content for their fans and have thus done a fairly good job of remaining in the news. But through plays and games like the ones mentioned above, they’ve also allowed their brand to expand wonderfully beyond their own actions.

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