There are few things that can be said these days to add favour to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Considered a classic by many, it has developed a high level of infamy afforded to only the best of comedies (the likes of Airplane! and Blazing Saddles). Yet, whilst Life of Brian is often considered to be better, it’s easy to forget, amongst the hyperbole Life of Brian is given, just how funny Holy Grail is.
As the story goes, King Arthur (the late Graham Chapman) has been tasked by God with a sacred quest to find the Holy Grail. In doing so, he must recruit the knights of the round table (played by the rest of the Pythons respectively) and avoid perilous situations using wit and cunning whilst all the while acting like immature idiots.
Much like Airplane!, Holy Grail is filled to the brim with so many gags that many are often lost amongst the gut punching laughter. Yet, whilst the majority are totally on the nose and downright silly (the man eating rabbit, the Knights who say ‘Ni!’), there are many slow burners that begin under fairly innocuous circumstances and build to moments of sheer lunacy. This demonstrates the Pythons at their finest, allowing their best gags to assemble from multiple and lengthy exchanges that inevitably thread together to become so balmy at times that you often wonder how something so mad was even possible.
Even upon repeated viewings, Holy Grail still remains funny. Along with Life of Brian, it is widely considered one of the best comedies in history and it’s not difficult to see why. Try not to giggle as John Cleese bellows at our heroes with a French twang or the Black Knight declaring ‘Tis but a scratch!’ as his arm lies detached at his feet. It can hardly be considered high-brow comedy but, more often than not, it’s more entertaining seeing a group of grown men behaving like goons.
There is little more that can be said in the film’s favour. It’s a comic gold mine.