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Monty Python saved my life.
I was ten years old in 1974, when the Buffalo PBS station across the lake began airing the iconoclastic BBC comedy series every Friday night.
Being stuck in a cheap, dinky apartment that overlooked a burned-out church, with my bullying alcoholic stepfather and a meek, “see no evil” mother, surrounded at school by more extroverted, rough-and-tumble classmates — and very likely, without knowing it, clinically depressed — that half hour once a week sitting two feet from the TV was one of the only things I felt I had to look forward to.
Maybe ever, I thought at the time.
Ironically, my crappy stepfather was the one who turned me on to the show.
The first night, he “made” me watch it, the same way he was always trying to “make” me get a suntan or take up horseback riding or keep all the closet and cupboard doors in the house either open or closed depending on his inscrutable whim of the week.
My pouty resentment faded fast. For whatever reason — the cool accents, the breathless pace, the tame “naughtiness,” the “question authority” iconoclasm, the ineffable cuteness of Michael Palin — I got hooked on Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
In high school, I finally met a couple of girls who shared my passion, and we became those insufferable sorts who communicate almost entirely in Python (and SCTV) catchphrases.
I bought all the Python’s albums and books by and about them, and repeatedly signed out hard to find titles from the library, like the one detailing their lawsuits and censorship battles.