Anything but mindless good taste

John Cleese of Monty Python was supposedly the first person ever to say “shit” on British television. That’s the story, at least, that he told as part of his notorious eulogy for Graham Chapman, during which he supposedly also became the first person ever at a British memorial service to say “fuck.”

Obviously, I was far too young to have experienced Monty Python in their rather revolutionary heyday. But watching this eulogy, as I have a number of times, reminds me that here in Canada, people my age got to watch a troupe of our own express a sophisticated take on vulgarity through the official state airwaves of our supposedly repressed culture.

After all, the first time I ever heard the “F-nomenon” on television was the night that the CBC broadcast the episode of The Kids in the Hall in which Bruce McCulloch looked into the camera and shouted “I’m the king of the mercy fuck!”

And yes, in the clip I’ve cited above, the word is censored. Apparently, the CBC had more guts back in the day than the Comedy Network had much later in life. Maybe that lends a little more credence to the argument that CTVglobemedia is totally in the pocket of those uptight Conservatives, and maybe it doesn’t. But either way, believe you me, the CBC let that F-bomb fly like Slim Pickens himself was on board.

It may not seem like much, but I genuinely do remember the night I watched that episode air. Being a timid young Canadian, my first assumption was that the troupe had somehow managed to slip it by the censors. But now, looking back, it’s easier to see that the appropriate brass at the CBC probably just didn’t think it was that big a deal.

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