Take the madcap "Monty Python: Life of Brian" quiz

Olivia Cantor

Image: tmdb

About This Quiz

The merry men of Monty Python were at their best with "Life of Brian," a religious satire whose humor was a bit, well, not very holy. If you want to check out more about the movie, take the madcap quiz, and re-live the the zaniness of this "controversial" film.

In the beginning, why was Brian so important?

It seems that the Three Kings took a wrong turn and ended up at Brian's nativity scene, not Jesus'. But they certainly made sure to correct that situation.

How does the movie open in the "present?”

Monty Python has a love for miscommunication, language, and wrong assumptions. In this case, peacemakers become cheese makers.

In the end, what did baby Brian get for all his troubles?

Monty Python is well known for abuse comedy, and they pull no punches with Baby Brian getting a slapped for his crying. It should be noted that being slapped around is literally slapstick comedy!

While one joke was unfolding in the Sermon on the Mount about cheese makers and the meek, what was the other joke about?

Leave it to the Pythons to layer a lead gag over another one. In this case, it's a running trolling argument about big noses. And the wrong person gets hit.

What was the in-joke about the Biggus Dickus scene?

The centurion actors were specifically told not to laugh. Michael Palin decided to milk it for all it was worth, capturing on film just how devastating the joke could be. Even Palin himself was cracking up already.

What would John Cleese joke about regarding all the Christians who protested the movie?

John Cleese and the other Pythons observed that the conflicting Christian groups complained about the movie. After 2,000 years, they finally got their act together!

Many people believe the movie poked fun at Christ. What was the truth, according to the Pythons?

As the Pythons put it, there wasn't much to mock in Jesus' teachings, so it wouldn't have been as funny. On the other hand, religious institutions were fair game.

How do women get to attend stonings?

It seems that the normal pastime for women is to go to the stonings. But since women aren’t allowed at stonings, they have to wear beards and lower their voices.

Why was the man being being stoned to death.

It looks like the poor guy is being put to death just for saying that his meal was worthy of Jehovah. And no, it can’t possibly get any worse.

Why did the Jewish leader for the stonings end up being crushed by a big rock?

Exasperation is common in "Life of Brian," and this early skit with a ruffled Jewish Leader is a perfect example of how a rule can lead to exaggerated consequences. Yup, even if it's just about using the name "Jehovah."

What's the joke about the very healthy guy begging?

The ex-leper was one that Jesus healed. Unfortunately, in doing so, the ex-leper says he was deprived of his livelihood. Spare a talent for an ex-leper?

When we get a look into Brian's household, what is his mother's job?

It's implied -- but not stated -- that Brian's mother provides intimate services for centurions. Yes, part of the comedy is about how improbable that may sound. And how the actor playing the part of Brian's mother is a man.

What is the big secret about Brian's parentage?

As Brian's mum explains to him, there's a reason why he has a big nose, and it's because he's half-Roman. Brian is utterly defiant and flabbergasted after that.

What was Graham Chapman's other important role as part of the film crew?

Graham Chapman was a medical student before he went headlong into comedy with Monty Python, and he did eventually become a licensed doctor. So, as the shooting day would wind down, he would step out of character and be the field doc.

So, why does Stan want to be called Loretta?

In what is probably one of the weirder movie skits, we have Stan, a member of the People's front of Judea wanting to be a woman, so he can have children. This of course, meets with resistance… Where will the baby gestate, in a box?

What joke did the movie's advertising make in Sweden?

The Swedish marketing for Life of Brian described it as the film that was banned in Norway. And that was true, as Norway banned the film for a year, and then gave it an "18" rating.

Who is the only character to appear not only in "Life of Brian," but also in "The Meaning of Life," "And Now For Something Completely Different," and "The Holy Grail?"

God as the movie character appeared in all the four mentioned Monty Python films, even as an animated character. It just goes to show the Pythons believe that God can be in on comedy, too.

It must have made everything very airy. What did Terry Jones wear for a scene where he was a hermit?

Terry Jones, who had been directing a scene, was also "dressed" as a hermit. As Mike Palin observed, that meant that the only thing that kept him decent was a very long beard.

It turns out that Brian has a side job in the coliseum. What is it?

It's highly probable that snack peddlers existed in the past, but for sure the food would have been weird by our standards. Would you like some otter's noses?

Since "Life of Brian" is a Monty Python movie, they simply can't resist doing an educational joke. What was it this time?

As Brian is writing up some graffiti, he ends up getting in trouble with a Roman guard. The centurion then makes him spell his graffiti properly. Many times. In large letters.

Which Beatle helped out with money for the film, when funding didn't come in?

When George Harrison found out the Pythons had money problems for the film, he covered for it. Eric Idle quipped that it was the most expensive ticket ever for a movie.

What's Pontius Pilate's problem?

Pontius Pilate — as played by Michael Palin — is "Life of Brian's" classic poof character. His lisp and his defense of his good friend, Biggus Dickus', name is a high point of the film's comedic tide.

How did Brian temporarily escape from the Roman Centurions who were chasing him, proving that he is, to an extent, a "lucky bastard?”

This is where the far-out joke with no connection comes in. As Brian climbs up an unfinished tower, he falls to his apparent death — before being taken on a wild ride by some aliens. He then crashes back near where the Romans were looking for him. And the chase begins again!

What do the merchants in the market expect you to do?

While the execution of haggling makes it a good joke, haggling in itself is a ritual for some. Just take a look at how people in reality TV do it.

How did Brian hide himself among the prophets?

After Brian accidentally ended up onstage as a "prophet" he decided to keep on pretending to be one, so he could escape. Strangely enough, he did get some followers!

Even rabbis got into the fray! Why did some have objections to a particular scene in "Life of Brian."

Apparently, when John Cleese played a Jewish community leader, he wore a sacred prayer shawl. That was a big- no-no for Rabbis.

So, what did the people from the Judean People's Front do for Brian?

The Judean People's Front sent their suicide squad. Once they got to Brian's cross, they all committed suicide. That showed the others, right?

Why was Brian's mother not too happy with the myrrh?

Myrrh and frankincense are both medical, healing oils that can also be used as incense. However, myrrh has a very strong smell, and it's usually made more pleasant when mixed with frankincense. That's probably why myrrh wasn't mum's favorite.

The Pythons were famous for taking potshots when they could. Who was Bernie in the lyrics for "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life?”

Lord Bernard Delfont of EMI got cold feet after reading the script, and pulled out of funding the movie at the last minute. Fortunately, the Pythons had a good friend, and filming proceeded.

Talk about multi-tasking. How many roles did the Monty Python blokes play for the movie in total?

The Monty Python boys are well known for showing versatility (and cutting down on costs) by playing as many characters as possible in their movies. In this case, they played 40-plus characters among themselves.

Who was the animator who was instrumental to the wackiness of Monty Python?

Terry Gilliam is the only American among the Pythons, and brings his sense of the bizarre as a director, writer, and animator to the group. If you want to blame someone for animated butt-trumpets, it's him.

The Pythons were very pleased with this film. Lead actor, Graham Chapman, was also pleased for another reason. What was it?

Graham Chapman had recently quit drinking alcohol when production for Life of Brian began, so he was in agreement that it was one of their best work yet. And this, even though he would have to do a nude scene for comedic effect!

Behind the scenes, Graham Chapman had his share of weird moments. How did the crowd of extras react to his nude scene?

One thing the Python crew probably didn't expect is that most, if not all, the extras would have Islamic upbringing. When Chapman opened the window stark naked for the scene, the women ran away screaming.

What was Terry Gilliam's reason for not directing "Life of Brian, though the job most probably was offered to him?"

Some interviews and sources have said that Terry Gilliam refused to take on the director's chair, since there were issues about him directing the others Pythons. He still ended up handling some of the other scenes.

The sets and locations in the movie are still great to look at after all these years. Why was this so?

Monty Python hustled their production so they would be able to use the locations and sets from Franco Zeffirelli's "Jesus of Nazareth" TV mini-series. It was one of the perks of deciding to shoot in Tunisia.

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