How to Irritate People

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How to Irritate People.
How to Irritate People DVD cover.jpg
DVD cover
Directed byIan Fordyce
Produced byDavid Frost
Written byTim Brooke-Taylor
Graham Chapman
John Cleese
Marty Feldman
StarringJohn Cleese
Tim Brooke-Taylor
Graham Chapman
Michael Palin
Gillian Lind
Connie Booth
Dick Vosburgh
Release date
Running time
68 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

How to Irritate People is a 1968 television broadcast written by John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Marty Feldman and Tim Brooke-Taylor. Cleese, Chapman, and Brooke-Taylor also feature in it, along with future Monty Python collaborators Michael Palin and Connie Booth.

In various sketches, Cleese demonstrates exactly what the title suggests—how to irritate people, although this is done in a much more conventional way than the absurdity of similar Monty Python sketches.

Notable sketches[edit]

Job Interview[edit]

The "Job Interview" sketch, starring Cleese as the interviewer and Brooke-Taylor as the interviewee, was later performed, almost unchanged, in the first season of Monty Python's Flying Circus with Chapman as the interviewee.

Freedom of Speech[edit]

The "Freedom of speech" sketch, starring Cleese as the host/interviewer and Chapman as interviewee Dr. Rhomboid Goatcabin, features a discussion about freedom of speech in Great Britain, in which Cleese's character repeatedly reformulates the subject's main question ("Do you believe there is freedom of speech in this country?") in so many ways as to start a monologue and not let Chapman's character speak. This increasingly annoys the interviewee to the point where he is forced to murder the host in order to express his opinion on the matter, only to be interrupted again by his spirit. This sketch bears some resemblance to Anne Elk's Theory on Brontosauruses and was originally performed on At Last the 1948 Show.

Indian Restaurant[edit]

This sketch, featuring Palin as a waiter in an Indian restaurant who is excessively apologetic to his customers when something goes wrong, may very well have laid the groundwork for the "Dirty Fork" sketch from the third Flying Circus episode.

Car Salesman[edit]

The "Car Salesman" sketch, in which Palin refuses to accept customer Chapman's claim that a car he sold is faulty, later inspired Python's "Dead Parrot" sketch in which the malfunctioning car is replaced by an expired parrot.

Quiz Show[edit]

The "Quiz Show" sketch, where Brooke-Taylor, as a Pepperpot, annoys Cleese, a quiz show host, while appearing as a contestant on a show, was later adapted into another Monty Python sketch, "Take Your Pick" (or "Spot the Brain Cell," as it would be later called) in the second Flying Circus series, where Terry Jones plays the contestant attempting to win the prize of a "blow on the head."

Airline Pilots[edit]

The "Airline Pilots" sketch is set in the cockpit of a commercial airliner, with Cleese (as captain) and Chapman (as copilot). The airliner is on autopilot. Bored, they start making reassuring intercom messages to the passengers telling them there is nothing to worry about – at which point, of course, the passengers get worried – aided by the flight attendant (Palin). These messages get continually more incomprehensible or mutually contradictory until eventually all the passengers bail out. The Monty Python sketch "Bomb on Plane" in episode 35 alluded briefly to this sketch when pilot Michael Palin told passengers, "Our destination is Glasgow; there is no need to panic."


The recurring characters of the "Pepperpots", the old British housewives that exist solely to annoy theater-goers and quiz show hosts, would go on to be a major part of Monty Python's Flying Circus, appearing in almost every episode of the show.


This film was directed by Ian Fordyce who also directed At Last the 1948 Show, and was made in the UK for the American market in an attempt to introduce them to the new style of British humour. For this reason the recording is made to the NTSC colour standard. The idea for the show came from David Frost.

It appears the show was never broadcast in the UK, but was first broadcast in the United States on 21 January 1969.[citation needed] Contemporary reviews suggest a broadcast slot of 60 minutes, including commercials, which would make the version broadcast between 50 and 55 minutes, at least 10 minutes shorter than the current video release. In addition, reviews[1] refer to David Frost as appearing in the show, whereas he is absent from the video version. An audio track confirms that he originally introduced the show.[2] Michael Palin has also referred to the show being 'tightened up' for the video release.[citation needed]

The show has appeared on DVD.


  1. ^ ""How to irritate people"". SOTCAA. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  2. ^ "Original introduction for How to irritate people". youtube. The Monty Python Museum. Retrieved 22 February 2018.

External links[edit]