Posts Tagged ‘monty python’

Photo: Jazeen Hollings via Wikimedia.

Working at maintaining your health through exercise? Here’s a form of exercise I bet you haven’t tried yet: Monty Python silly walks.

Gretchen Reynolds reports at the Washington Post that “a not-so-serious study discovered that a walking style made famous by the comedy troupe … works, according to an important — or, at least, actual — study published [in] the annual holiday edition of the BMJ, a British medical journal.

“Employing high-tech science and a tittering adolescent’s sensibility, the study’s researchers filmed volunteers perambulating like the ungainly bureaucrats in the Monty Python comedy troupe’s Ministry of Silly Walks sketch, while wearing metabolic monitors.

“Their aim was to determine the physiological effects of ambling around a track in the manner of the actor John Cleese, playing the apparently boneless Mr. Teabag, the head of the Ministry of Silly Walks, or Michael Palin’s Mr. Putey, a wannabe silly walker whose screwball stroll needs work.

“The scientists soberly wondered whether silly-fying people’s walking form would up the intensity and caloric expenditure of their exercise and make an otherwise simple stroll into a serious workout. …

“ ‘What we wanted to know was, how would deliberately inefficient walking affect energy costs?’ said Glenn Gaesser, a professor of exercise physiology at Arizona State University in Phoenix, who led the new study. …

“To find out, Gaesser and his colleagues gathered 13 healthy adults, ages 22 to 71, and had them watch the Ministry of Silly Walks sketch several times.

“For those unfamiliar with the skit, Mr. Teabag leads his ministry by example, moving like an unhinged heron, high-kicking, low-bobbing and randomly whisking up and jiggling his knees with abandon. The more-sedate Mr. Putey merely hitches his left leg out a bit with every other step, a motion the disapproving Mr. Teabag finds ‘not particularly silly.’

“After absorbing the basics of silly walking, the study volunteers donned a facial apparatus to measure their oxygen uptake and started walking around a short track in Gaesser’s lab. First, they walked as themselves, at their preferred pace, for five minutes. Then, they copied Mr. Putey, hooking out their left leg sometimes, for another five minutes. Finally, they went full-on silly, imitating Mr. Teabag’s demented eggbeater strides, for the concluding five minutes, generally giggling throughout, Gaesser said.

“Afterward, the scientists calculated the walkers’ speed and metabolic costs during each form.

“Silly walking like Mr. Teabag proved to be much harder than un-silly walking, requiring about 2.5 times as much energy. Putey-style strolling, meanwhile, was comparable to normal walking in terms of energy expenditure, but slower.

“In practical terms, these findings suggest super-silly walking can be strenuous enough to qualify as ‘vigorous exercise,’ Gaesser said.

If someone adopts a silly walk for at least 11 minutes a day, he continued, they will meet the standard recommendation of at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise every week, which should meaningfully improve health and aerobic fitness. …

“Said David Raichlen, a professor of human and evolutionary biology at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, [who] was not involved with this study, ‘Across human evolution, one of our key adaptive advantages was the development of a very economical, bipedal walking gait,’ [so] normal walking barely challenges our hearts and lungs or burns many calories. …

“But we can upset this walking ease ‘through biomechanical tweaks like those seen in the silly walks,’ Raichlen said, increasing the energy expenditure of getting from place to place.

“Gaesser, in fact, believes the utility of silly walking may lie in using it to replace our most quotidian strolls. Heading to the bus stop? Lift your knees, he said. Dip your rump. You’ll burn extra calories and improve your fitness.”

I was unfortunately not able to learn what John Cleese thinks of the study. More at the Post, here.

Note: “Gaesser said he understands walking is an enormous challenge for people with some disabilities, and the study was not meant, in any way, to exclude or mock them.”

Read Full Post »

Here’s something fun from a BBC blog called “News from Elsewhere.” It’s about new, playful street signs in Sweden.

“A town in northern Sweden is encouraging pedestrians to hop, skip and even play air guitar like Chuck Berry as they cross the road, with a series of new street signs.

“Haparanda Council says it’s part of a scheme launched last year to rejuvenate the town centre. …

“Therese Ostling, who runs the Town Makeover project, tells Swedish TV … ‘They have got more attention than I thought — I see people taking photos of them every day, and sometimes they follow the instructions to jump, leap or whatever else the sign suggests.’

“The idea came from local woman Nadja Lukin, who … wrote to the council, as ‘Haparanda has always dared to try something new,’ and officials responded enthusiastically with signs depicting jive dancing and Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks.

“The makeover, which includes rebranding the centre as the Old Town, has brought new business into the once-rundown area and will continue for another year, but the most important impact of the signs has been to ‘make people smile,’ says Ms Ostling.” More.

Without doubt, if everyone did silly walks across the street, the world would be a better place, a place full of laughter.

Photo: Swedish TV
Swedish TV asks, “Why stroll across the street when you could ‘duck walk’ like a rock’n’roll icon?

Read Full Post »

Did I ever mention that John Cleese (“Monty Python,” “Fawlty Towers”) was the speaker at Suzanne’s college graduation? A very good choice if you like a bit of laughter with your deep thoughts.

Now an old video of the early Cleese has been unearthed.

The BBC has the story: “Two episodes of 1960s TV comedy ‘At Last The 1948 Show,’ which starred pre-Monty Python John Cleese and Graham Chapman, have been found after almost 50 years. The ITV programme, which was first screened in 1967, also featured Tim Brooke-Taylor, Marty Feldman and Aimi Macdonald. …

” ‘It represents a key moment in the history of British television comedy featuring the combined talents of some of its greatest exponents,’ BFI television consultant Dick Fiddy said. …

“The two episodes were found when Mr Fiddy was invited to explore the collection of Sir David Frost, who died last August, and who was executive producer on the show.

“They were contained on two reels of 16mm film and had been filmed directly from a television screen. …

“Cleese will present the two episodes, on loan from the Frost family, as part of ‘Missing Believed Wiped’ – the BFI’s annual celebration of recovered TV programmes — on 7 December in London.” More here.

Recently rediscovered in the effects of the late David Frost, a comedy featuring a young John Cleese. 

Read Full Post »

Wow, what an awesome job the Concord Players did with this goofy musical by the folks who brought you Monty Python!

Spamalot had so many insane costume changes, extravagant production numbers, and giddy jokes that it never allowed you a minute to think how silly it all is.

We laughed a lot. They say laughing is good for your health, and I can see why it is good for mental health at least — when you are really laughing, you can’t think about anything but the thing that is making you laugh. So you’re really “living in the moment,” as the gurus advise.

Tom was one of the trumpet players (not the one who gets shot by the conductor for playing the wrong trumpet themes in the overture), and Claire gave a party after the matinee. Wisely, she decided not to emphasize Spam for the meal (“No one would have come to the party,” she said) and instead presented a delicious spread with a Cinco de Mayo theme.

Several guests cracked out their smart phones to inform us about what Cinco de Mayo celebrates (the 1862 defeat of the French by Mexicans at Pueblo — not sure I feel much wiser, though).

Spamalot is sold out. But it was sold out today, too, and I saw a few empty seats, so take a chance — maybe a ticket holder won’t show up. The woman next to me was offended by some of the naughtiness and irreverence and left at intermission. So you could always come for the second half.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: