The Dirty Fork
The Dirty Fork, also known simply as Restaurant Sketch, is a Monty Python sketch that appeared in episode 3 of the television series Monty Python's Flying Circus, and later in the film, And Now For Something Completely Different. It is notable for being the first Monty Python sketch wherein the characters react to the audience "booing" them.
Entertainment Weekly has ranked The Restaurant Sketch as one of Monty Python's top 20 sketches. In England, it is used in approved course materials for Key Stage 2 of the state school curriculum.
The sketch involves a man (Graham Chapman) and his wife (Carol Cleveland) who are enjoying a night out at an expensive French restaurant, only to discover that they have been given a dirty fork. Chapman politely asks Gaston the waiter to replace it.
Gaston (Terry Jones) apologizes profusely and runs to get the head waiter Gilberto (Michael Palin). Gilberto arrives, demands that the entire washing-up staff be fired, tells Gaston to report this news to the manager immediately, and recoils in disgust at the fork.
The manager (Eric Idle) arrives, gives Gilberto time to relax, then sits down at the table and apologizes "humbly, deeply, and sincerely" for the dirty fork. Soon, he becomes emotional when explaining the problems the restaurant staff has been suffering, and bursts into tears. Mungo, the cook (John Cleese) enters, berating the couple for criticizing such a vulnerable man, and swings his cleaver onto their table. Gilberto begins to clutch his head, crying over his war wound. The manager stabs himself in the stomach with the dirty fork, screaming "IT'S THE END!!! THE END!!!!" and keels to the ground, dead.
Mungo then lifts his knife over Chapman yelling out "REVENGE!" when Gilberto rounds the corner, stopping the angry cook from trying to murder the man just in time. "Mungo!" he gasps, struggling to hold him. "Mungo, never kill a customer." Then Gilberto dies from his war wound, and as Mungo is just about to avenge the manager's death by killing Chapman, Gaston tackles him to the ground. A caption says, "And Now… The Punchline!"
"Lucky we didn't say anything about the dirty knife," Chapman adds, looking into the camera. The whole cast moans at the bad joke, as does the audience in turn.
There are several changes to the sketch in the And Now For Something Completely Different version. The waiter is named "Giuseppe" instead of "Gaston." There's no audience and the actors do not boo when Chapman delivers the "punchline".
This sketch reflects Python's thoughts about punch lines. The Monty Python troupe had decided from the start that they were going to throw away punchlines, and this was a play on the shows that would use corny lines like the dirty knife. Most Python sketches just end abruptly, and sometimes even characters say "What a stupid sketch" and walk out. In Monty Python Live in Aspen, Terry Gilliam explains:
|“||Our first rule was: no punch lines.. [some sketches] start brilliant, great acting, really funny sketch, but punch line is just not as good as the rest of the sketch, so it kills the entire thing. That's why we eliminated them."||”|
- Wolk, Josh (2005-03-21). "Flying Circus Maximus". ew.com. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
- Roberts, Alexandra. "KS2 PSHE and Literacy: Monty Python (1969-74)". BFI Screen Online: The Definitive Guide to Britain's Film and TV Industry. Retrieved 2007-09-28.
- Chapman, Graham; Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones (1989-11-12). The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus; All the Words Volume One. Pantheon. ISBN 0-679-72647-0.
- Johnson, Kim "Howard" (1999-06-19). The First 28 Years of Monty Python, Revised Edition. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0-312-16933-7.