10 comedies that wouldn't exist without Monty Python

The Pythons, who return to Gold in November with Monty Python's Best Bits (Mostly) and brand new documentary The Meaning Of Live, influenced just about every funny thing to come since. Especially these.

10 comedies that wouldn't exist without Monty Python

The Young Ones (1982)

Brash, chaotic and fast-paced, The Young Ones was the comedy equivalent of punk, but it still owed a huge debt to the, um, "prog rock" of Python. Think of the way it blends drab, recognisable reality (bored students in a grotty houseshare) with sudden flights of fancy (walls collapse, characters eat bricks, vegetables roller skate). And the way scenes will unexpectedly lead in to something completely different, like two insects nattering away in a hole.

The Mighty Boosh (2004)

Surrealism and songs, bizarre zoos and magic shops, and characters with names like Jurgen Haabermaaster and Lester Corncrake. The spirit of Python is indeed strong in The Mighty Boosh, which ? like the work of Cleese and co ? merrily makes its own rules and expects us to keep up. And some of the set designs, like the foam-faced moon, could almost be Gilliam animations brought to uncanny life.

The Fast Show (1994)

The Suits You tailors, hitting unsuspecting people with a barrage of repeated innuendos, are the spiritual successors to Eric Idle's "Nudge nudge, wink wink" chap. Arthur "Where's me washboard" Atkinson, whose music hall exploits are accompanied by footage of actual 1940s audiences, could actually have BEEN a Python character, and the same could be said of bedraggled shed-dweller Jesse, who keeps popping out of nowhere to tell us what he's "mostly been wearing".

The League of Gentlemen (1999)

One of Monty Python's big themes was Englishness. Not the grand Englishness of Elgar and the Empire, but the bland Englishness of stuffy civil servants, bleak suburban cul-de-sacs and rubbish food. The League of Gentlemen took this vision of England and pushed it even further, with their sinister butchers, paranoid shopkeepers and odious office jobsworths, all inhabiting the naff, small-minded world of Royston Vasey. Plus, what could be more Pythonesque than a group of clever men constantly dressing up as shrieking, scowling ladies?

Shooting Stars (1995)

If Monty Python was a gameshow, it would be Shooting Stars. With rounds with names like "When Poultry Comes to Stay", and quiz questions on how many people might conceivably emerge from a cut-open zebra, it flows with the warped verbal wit that Python first brought to the masses. And there's that slightly scary quality that Python excelled at: we're still a bit traumatised at the idea of an omelette that forces you to dance and sing showtunes if it lands on your face?

The Day Today (1994)

Stony-faced broadcasters spouting nonsense news while very peculiar things happen around them? long before The Day Today, we saw it happen in Monty Python. And even the quickest glance at some of The Day Today's spoutings ("Exploded cardinal preaches sermon from fish tank"? "Bouncing elephantiasis woman destroys central Portsmouth") reveals the sort of manic, fizzing comic creativity the Pythons bequeathed to the nation.

Five Go Mad in Dorset (1982)

The Comic Strip gang, made up of the likes of Dawn French, Rik Mayall and Jennifer Saunders, put Alternative Comedy on the map in the 1980s. But, for all their blazing originality, their TV specials would never have happened if the Pythons hadn't blazed a trail for extreme comedy. The iconic Enid Blyton parody, Five Go Mad in Dorset, with its bad taste sex gags and ruthless mickey take of wholesome Englishness ("lashings of ginger beer!) is the most Python-like of the lot.

Big Train (1998)

Big Train is more than simply "Python-esque". It's easy to imagine that Big Train is EXACTLY what Palin, Cleese, Jones, Gilliam, Chapman and Idle would have come up with if they'd been born a bit later on. From the infamous stare-out competition (which probably takes place in the same universe where people pay to have arguments in clinics) to sketches which suddenly end in calm murder, its deadpan absurdity and macabre twists couldn't have come to telly without the previous example set by Python.

Jam (2000)

A man is kidnapped and forced to wrestle naked with pigs. A brand new television starts to disgorge huge numbers of scuttling lizards. Someone tries to commit slow suicide by constantly dropping themselves off a very low balcony. This is the world of Jam, and Chris Morris's disturbing, nightmarish sketch show (if that's even what we should call it) could be described as an evil Monty Python. Or Monty Python after a nervous breakdown. Just Monty Python gone very, very wrong, is what we're saying.

The Simpsons (1989)

It's true: the juggernaut of American comedies owes its existence to Monty Python. Don't take our word for it: creator Matt Groening himself has 'fessed up to it, saying the Python "high-velocity sense of the absurd and not stopping to explain yourself" was a big inspiration when creating the most famous family in the world. Take a bow, Monty Python.