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The Argument Sketch
|Episode:||The Money Programme (November 2, 1972)|
|Actors:|| Michael Palin|
The Argument Sketch (or Argument or Argument Clinic) is a sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus. It appeared in the show's 29th episode. It featured the absurd humour favoured by Monty Python and showcased the special chemistry between Michael Palin and John Cleese. In addition to Cleese and Palin, supporting roles were provided by Rita Davies, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, and Terry Jones. It is among the most popular and famous Monty Python sketches.
The sketch's premise involves a service that exposes customers to unpleasant experiences for a fee. For example, one can pay to be verbally abused (by Chapman) or to be hit on the head (by Jones).
Palin pays to have an argument with Cleese. Initially, Cleese simply gainsays (def'n: to oppose via contradiction) everything that Palin says. This frustrates Palin, who asserts that "an argument's not the same as contradiction"—("Simply saying 'No it isn't' isn't an argument." "Yes it is!" "No it isn't!")—until he realises that Cleese is engaging him in a sort of meta-argument about what constitutes an argument. He is ultimately unsatisfied with the argument, however, and goes to complain—only to find that the complaints department (staffed by Eric Idle) is where customers go to listen to a professional complainer. Finally, he stumbles into a room where he is struck on the head with a mallet by Terry Jones, who gives being hit on the head lessons, which Palin proclaims a "stupid concept". In typical Python fashion, the sketch ends when Palin and Jones are arrested by Inspector Fox (Graham Chapman) for violating the Strange Sketch Act, but not much before the entire show is arrested by Inspector Thompson's Gazelle (Eric Idle) for violating both the Not-in-Front-of-the-Children Act and the Getting-Out-of-Sketches-Without-Using-a-Proper-Punch-Line Act, and for "simply ending every bleeding sketch by just having a policeman come in". Right on cue, another inspector (Cleese) appears and puts his hand on Thompson Gazelle's shoulder, who says "It's a fair cop!" Cleese's inspector has an inspector's arm put on him as well, and the end credits roll.
The sketch is performed slightly differently in Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl. In this version, the sketch ends abruptly while Cleese and Palin are mid-argument, by the entrance of Terry Gilliam, on wires, singing 'I've Got Two Legs'.
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