And Now for Something Completely Different: The Ministry of Silly Walks

The Monty Python comedy troupe first aired the Ministry of Silly Walks in 1970 on their popular television show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus (Episode 14 “Face the Press”). Nearly 40 years later, the sketch is still gaining popularity.

Above: John Cleese performing his famous silly walk routine.

In The Ministry of Silly Walks sketch, John Cleese plays a typical British civil servant, complete with bowler hat and leather book-bag. He is approached by Mr Putey (Michael Palin) who is creating a silly walk and requests a grant from the Ministry of Silly Walks to develop it.

However, when he shows Cleese the walk, it turns out to be not very silly at all and Mr Putey’s request for a grant is denied. John Cleese claims that the government has limited the funding for the Ministry of Silly Walks, favouring Housing, Education, Health, Defense and Social Security over Silly Walks. During the sketch, Mrs Twolumps brings in a tray with coffee, as requested by Cleese. Her Silly Walk is extremely silly and unfortunately she spills the coffee all over the tray before reaching John Cleese and Mr Putey.

Above: Scenes from Monty Python's Silly Walks skit, showing the office in which the interview takes place and Mrs Twolumps, bringing tea while performing a silly walk.

The sketch was so popular that Cleese had numerous requests to perform the skit – which he generally turned down. He felt that the sketch didn’t merit such a response and he also found it painful to perform his peculiar style of silly walk.

John Cleese doing a Silly Walk on Fawlty Towers

Cleese did occasionally give in to the requests for the Silly Walk routine, and performed his Silly Walk on Fawlty Towers, another popular British comedy show. In the episode, “The Germans”, Cleese’s character has suffered a concussion and he tries to lighten the mood of the other characters, saying “I’ll do the funny walk”. He then impersonates a German soldier’s walk.

Above: John Cleese on his popular show, Fawlty Towers, doing the "silly walk" of German soldiers.

Changing of the Guard in Greece

It would appear that silly walks have been around for far longer than Cleese and the merry Monty Python troupe. This is a video of the changing of the guard in Greece. The guards employ a traditional walking pattern which, along with their outfits, can be considered a highly developed Silly Walk.

Silly Walks Graffiti and T-shirts
Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks sketch has also been used as inspiration for graffiti artists and designers, appearing on walls and t-shirts.

Silly Walk Generator

The Monty Python group has created a Silly Walks generator, in which you choose one of four characters with which to animate your own Silly Walk.

Top Secret evidence of governments around the globe training soldiers in the Way of the Silly Walk
Rumor has it that the Ministry of Silly Walks has become a top-secret organization and that governments around the world have been using soldiers to develop slight variations on Cleese’s original Silly Walk. Here are some examples of soldiers training to perform the Silly Walk;

British television humor generally has a dark, cynical edge to it that is often not grasped by non-British viewers, yet the Ministry of Silly Walks skit has had people around the globe giggling for decades.

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