Mr Praline

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Mr Eric Praline is a fictional character from the television show Monty Python's Flying Circus, played by comedian John Cleese.

Appearances[edit]

The Monty Python team consciously decided to avoid recurring characters. Along with Terry Jones/Terry Gilliam's nude organist, Michael Palin's "It's" man, the Gumbys and Graham Chapman's Colonel, Mr Praline was one of the few deemed popular and useful enough for multiple appearances.[1] Praline's initial appearance was in a first series episode during a vox pop segment, to announce that he would be appearing later in the show.[2] This he did as a Police Inspector, following up on the case of Whizzo's Chocolates (hence his name, praline being a kind of hazelnut candy), which produced such gems as Cockroach Cluster, Anthrax Ripple, and the titular Crunchy Frog.[3][2]

Praline's defining moment came in three episodes later, when he attempted to return his recently purchased dead parrot to the pet shop from which he had bought it.[4] This segment has been called the comedy team's single best-known sketch,[5] and it led to Praline's appearance in the team's first theatrical release, And Now for Something Completely Different (1971) which included a remake of the sketch.[6]

In a second series episode Praline had more pet trouble, this time trying to buy a fish licence for his pet halibut, Eric.[7] In this sketch, he mentions that he also has a cat and a dog named Eric among others and has acquired a (fraudulent) licence for the cat. This final sketch led to Praline singing the song "Eric The Half-A-Bee" on the Monty Python's Previous Record album.[8]

Cleese eventually got so fed up with "doing the one with the parrot", that he vowed never again to perform the sketch; conversely, the Eric the Half-A-Bee segment is one of Cleese's personal favourites.[8] It includes the revelation that Praline's first name is also Eric.

In episode 18, "Live from the Grill-o-mat", Praline appears with his flatmate Brooky (Eric Idle) as the host of a new chat show. However, the show in the sketch is cancelled and they later appear in the "The Seven Brides For Seven Brothers Sketch".[9]

A Variety photo shoot during the filming of Monty Python's Life of Brian in Tunisia resulted in the character's post-TV-series appearance. The comedy team was photographed in costume against mosques and palm trees; Michael Palin noted in his diary: "Nostalgia time. John was dressed in his Pacamac as Praline, complete with dead parrot."[10]

Character[edit]

Robert Ross' Monty Python Encyclopedia notes that Mr Praline has become a beloved figure within the Python canon.[11] He has been discussed in Python-related literature as well as works not specifically dealing with the comedy team. Praline has an incredulous tone and exaggerated, somewhat high-pitched English accent with Scottish elements. Ross describes Praline's character as "slightly creepy", with a "British air of oppressed madness".[11] Literature Through Film: Realism, Magic, and the Art of Adaptation (2004) holds Praline up as an example of a "Sancho-like realist".[12] The 2006 book The Best British Stand-Up and Comedy Routines describes the disgruntled Mr Praline as "all plastered down hair and plastic raincoat".[13]

Edward Slowik writes that in the "Fish Licence" sketch, Praline provides an example of Jean-Paul Sartre's existentialist concept of "bad faith". In this concept, a denial of individual freedom can result when a person fails to accept that past choices and behavior determine one's character. By declaring "I am not a loony!" when his actions have shown he is clearly insane, Praline exhibits Sartrean "bad faith".[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Johnson 1999, p.51.
  2. ^ a b Johnson 1999, p. 90
  3. ^ Stouffer, Tere (2007). The Complete Idiot's Guide to the World of Harry Potter. Alpha Books. p. 122. ISBN 1-59257-599-4. Retrieved 5 July 2008. 
  4. ^ Larsen, Darl; Williams, William Proctor (2003). Monty Python, Shakespeare and English Renaissance Drama. McFarland. p. 23. ISBN 0-7864-1504-5. Retrieved 5 July 2008. 
  5. ^ Johnson 1999, p. 96.
  6. ^ Johnson 1999, p. 220.
  7. ^ a b Slowik, Edward (2006). "Existentialism in Monty Python: Kafka, Camus Nietzsche, and Sartre". In Hardcastle, Gary L. and Reisch, George A. Monty Python and Philosophy: Nudge Nudge, Think Think!. Open Court Publishing. p. 182. ISBN 0-8126-9593-3. Retrieved 5 July 2008. 
  8. ^ a b Johnson 1999, p. 141.
  9. ^ Johnson 1999, p. 129.
  10. ^ Palin, Michael (2006). Diaries 1969–1979: The Python Years. New York: Thomas Dunne Books. p. 487. ISBN 0-297-84436-9. 
  11. ^ a b Ross, Robert (1999). Monty Python Encyclopedia. New York: TV Books. p. 43. ISBN 1-57500-036-9. 
  12. ^ Stam, Robert (2004). Literature Through Film: Realism, Magic, and the Art of Adaptation. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 58. ISBN 1-4051-0287-X. 
  13. ^ O'Brien, Mike (editor) (2006). The Best British Stand-Up and Comedy Routines. New York: Running Press. p. 248. ISBN 0-7867-1858-7. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Johnson, Kim "Howard" (1999). The First 280 Years of Monty Python. New York: Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 0-312-16933-7.