Skip to main content

Flash: Monty Python 'Parrot' Sketch Traced To Ancient Greek Joke Book

OK,  maybe "flash" was parrot overkill. It is clearly one of those end-of-a-long Friday items, but I am convinced by the press mavens behind a new online joke book, "new" being the absolute least appropriate adjective imaginable, that they are on to something.

Online self-publishing site, (get it?,) has just released a new version of a 4th century BC joke book, Philogelos: The Laugh Addict, with over 200 jokes and witticisms ascribed to a pair or Greeks, Hierocles and Philagrius. BTW: I Googled them enough to conclude there actually is an ancient joke book of which this is a new translation.

Anyway, according to the book, which was being hawked with the headline about tracing the roots of the Python’s famous TV skit, the dead parrot sketch, can arguably be traced to the following joke:

"A man goes up to a student dunce (apparently the Greek generic for the butt of jokes) and says, ‘The slave you sold me died.’  ‘By the gods,’ counters the dunce, ‘when he was with me, he never did any such thing!’ 

Followed by the Greek equivalent of a drum riff and a cymbal crash, both of which were likely used by the ancient Greeks since the date from perhistoric times.