Bruces sketch

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The Bruces sketch is a sketch from the television show Monty Python's Flying Circus, and appears in episode 22, "How to Recognise Different Parts of the Body". It involves a group of stereotypical lounging Australians who are revealed to be the Philosophy Department at the fictitious University of Woolamaloo[1] (a misspelling of the Sydney suburb of Woolloomooloo; this is how the suburb is actually pronounced with an Australian accent), and all named Bruce, with a common fondness for beer and a hatred of "poofters" (a derogatory Australian slang word for a homosexual). Terry Jones plays a "pommie" professor, Michael Baldwin, joining the department and meeting his colleagues for the first time. Since his name is different from that of everyone else, Baldwin is asked if he minds being given the moniker "Bruce" to avoid confusion.

John Cleese's character (who in a later sketch is called Bruce Beer) recites the seven faculty rules at the University of Woolamaloo:[2]

  1. No poofters.
  2. No member of the faculty is to maltreat the "Abos" in any way whatsoever—if there's anyone watching.
  3. No poofters.
  4. I don't want to catch anyone not drinking in their room after lights out.
  5. No poofters.
  6. There is no rule six.
  7. No poofters.

The sketch is also featured on the Matching Tie and Handkerchief album and in many of the team's stage shows, where it would be capped with a performance of "The Philosophers' Song". Free cans of Fosters beer were tossed to the audience with the addition of a joke about American beer given at Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl. The song does not feature in the original television version, which instead ends with the first Bruces saying "Sidney Nolan! What's that?" pointing to the ear of fourth Bruce returning to that episode's running joke, "how to recognise different parts of the body", with the voice over saying, "Number nine. The ear." (the TV sketch began with "Number eight. The kneecap." and a closeup of the First Bruce's knee).

Eric Idle co-wrote the sketch with Cleese and said he based it on his Australian friends from the 1960s "who always seemed to be called Bruce".[3]

In reference to the sketch, Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson had used the stage name "Bruce Bruce" while a member of the British hard rock band Samson.

Monty Python Live at Drury Lane[edit]

A slightly different version of the sketch is recorded on Monty Python Live at Drury Lane. The identity of "Bruce" is Lachlan Chipman, Professor of Philosophy and friend of Michael Palin. Chipman was the founding Chairman of the Philosophy Department at the University of Wollongong.[4][5]


  1. ^ Chapman, Graham; Cleese, John; et al. (1990), Monty Python's Flying Circus – Just The Words 1 (1990 ed.), London: Mandarin, p. 295, ISBN 978-0-7493-0226-9 
  2. ^ Darl Larsen, Monty Python, Shakespeare, and English Renaissance drama 
  3. ^ Johnson, Kim "Howard" (1989). The First 20 Years of Monty Python. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press. p. 107. ISBN 0-312-03309-5. 
  4. ^ Chipman, Lauchlan (9 October 1977). "What Price the useless Arts?". Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Publishing). p. 62. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Oppy, Graham; Trakakis, N. N.; et al. (2010). "Chapter 22". A companion to philosophy in Australia & New Zealand. Clayton, Vic.: Monash University Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9806512-0-1. Retrieved 21 November 2014.