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“That’s a Very Silly Line, Sit Down”:

The Great, Yet He Should Be More Known Graham Chapman

Image result for graham chapman

By: Tony Nash

I hope I will have achieved something lasting – Graham Chapman 

When one thinks of the Monty Python troupe, the names John Cleese, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, and even Terry Gilliam tend to be what automatically come to mind, but a name that’s popular among the group and fans, but not known enough internationally, and should be, is Graham Chapman. This Cambridge graduate who originally intended to become a doctor of medicine seemed very unlikely to be a successful comedian, but like so many unassuming geniuses, he proved any naysayers wrong. What made Chapman successful was his ability to say funny lines and behave in funny situations with a complete straight serious, and occasional deadpan, faces. Whether he was a policeman, military man, doctor, businessman, etc, (all stemming from watching his father during his days as a police inspector), he could make a scene seem funnier than what was in the script by just behaving like it was a real life experience. Even in drag he could be a riot, and female impersonation isn’t exactly easy to pull off. While he was great with acting zany, hyper, and just plain satirical, it was acting as if everything was normal he was at his best. It was related by Python colleague John Cleese, that while they sat around writing the scripts, Chapman would just sit there smoking his pipe, and when moments of genius came upon him, his ideas would change the script for the better.

Image result for graham chapman

Image result for graham chapman

Image result for graham chapman

Why he isn’t mentioned as much as his cohorts in the States is an odd one as Monty Python was a hit in the US, in spite of uncertainty of British humor being understood by American audiences. Whether his style was just too sophisticated or he somehow just didn’t have the popular after taste of his colleagues is unknown, but in sketches like Army Protection Racket and The Pyranna Brothers, and his sporadic sketch ending antics in the episode Full Frontal Nudity often stole the show as they were sometimes the funniest bits. While not forgotten, he seems to not elicit the same responses of praise from audiences of the last 20 years or so. His autobiography, titled A Liar’s Autobiography ironically enough, contains some of the funniest and at times most poignant material and moments of his life and career, again showing his ability to make the mundane funny, and even crack a joke at himself. In spite of alcoholism plaguing the latter part of his life, he managed to maintain a type of professionalism that most wouldn’t be able to do, even when it hindered normally capable scenes and stunts. His death from cancer in 1989 put a sudden and tragic end to an enigmatic mind, but to the people of the UK is still alive and well in reruns and home media that shall never be forgotten.  Sometimes the funniest of the group, Mr. Chapman should definitely be than he is, and should be seen as one of the tops in the worldwide cavalcade of funny men.

Image result for graham chapman

Now, I’ve noticed a tendency for this programme to get rather silly. ….but I’m not having things getting silly – Graham Chapman (as the Colonel in Full Frontal Nudity)

For more information:

IMDB/Graham Chapman

Wikipedia/Graham Chapman

All images are from

all quotes from from Graham Chapman IMDB and Monty Python”s Flying Circus episode Full Frontal Nudity IMDB

For anyone interested, here is Chapman’s original recording of his autobiography, A Liar’s Autobiography (The video comes from YouTube, all rights to the uploader and YouTube itself)

(Be forewarned, he uses quite a bit of raunchy, colorful, explicit, and dirty language throughout. Not for anyone under 18 years of age, unless with parental consent. I’ve listened to sections and it’s rather good, funny, informative, and sometimes poignant.)

YouTube has a plethora of Chapman interviews and skits from Monty Python I highly suggest are checked out as The Python TV series isn’t on US DVD yet.

Filed under: Film: Actor/Actress Spotlight

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