The Dirty Fork, also known simply as Restaurant Sketch, is a Monty Python sketch that appeared in episode 3 of the television series Monty Python's Flying Circus, and later in the film, And Now For Something Completely Different. It is notable for being the first Monty Python sketch wherein the characters react to the audience "booing" them.
It involves a man (Graham Chapman) and his wife (Carol Cleveland) who are enjoying a night out at an expensive French restaurant, only to discover that they have been given a dirty fork, and Chapman politely asks the waiter to replace his dirty fork that "...has a spot of dirt on it".
After giving a polite comment about the dirty fork to the waiter, the waiter (Terry Jones) apologizes profusely and runs to get the head waiter, played by Michael Palin. The head waiter arrives, recoils in disgust at the fork, and demands that the entire kitchen staff be fired, and calls the manager over.
The manager Eric Idle then sits down at the table and apologizes "deeply, sincerely and humbly" for the dirty fork. Soon, he becomes emotional and begins to speak of how the dish-washer can barely move her arthritic fingers, but it isn't her fault, his staff are good people. He ultimately goes into the restaurant's problems and how he had thought they were over those hard times until the fork incident had happened.
He begins to sob and Mungo, the cook (John Cleese) enters, shaking with rage. "You bastards! You vicious heartless bastards! Look what you've done to him! He's worked his fingers to the bone to make this place what it is! And you come in here with your petty, vicious, heartless quibbling, and you grind him into the dirt! This fine, honorable man whose boots you are not worthy to kiss! Oh... it makes me mad!" he gasps, and swings his cleaver onto their table. The head waiter and Mungo begin to clutch their heads, crying over their war wounds. Just as Mungo seems to have gotten over his angry rage, the manager stabs himself in the stomach with the dirty fork screaming "IT'S THE END!!! THE END OF THE LINE!!!!" and keels to the ground, dead.
Mungo then lifts his knife over Chapman when Palin rounds the corner, stopping Cleese from trying to murder the man just in time. "Mungo!" he gasps, struggling to hold him. "Mungo- Remember... never kill a customer." Then they both clutch their heads from war wounds, and Mungo is tackled by the waiter from before. A voice over and caption say, "And Now... The Punchline!"
"Lucky I didn't say anything about the dirty knife," Chapman adds, looking into the camera. The whole cast moans at the bad joke as does the audience in turn.
This sketch reflects Python's thoughts about punch lines. The Monty Python troupe had decided from the start that they were going to throw away punchlines, and this was a play on the shows that would use corny lines like the dirty knife. Most Python sketches just end abruptly, sometimes even characters say "What a stupid sketch" and walk out. In Monty Python Live in Aspen, Terry Gilliam explains: "Our first rule was: no punch lines.. [some sketches] start brilliant, great acting, really funny sketch, but punch line is just not as good as the rest of the sketch, so it kills the entire thing. That's why we eliminated them."
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