Monty Python's Flying Circus

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Monty Python's Flying Circus

The British comedy troupe "Monty Python," shown here in a 1969 promotional photo, influenced a new form of comedy.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

What? A British show claiming the top spot of American-dominated TV's most influential shows! Poppycock, you say? Yes, it's a surprise, but then again, "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!"

And now for something completely different: Without this great geek staple of straight-faced buffoonery, there would be no "Saturday Night Live," no "The Daily Show" and even -- gasp! -- no "The Simpsons." Whether you follow the model or eschew it, every comedy following "Monty Python's Flying Circus" has to deal with its distinctive take on humor.

When Dan Aykroyd chucked fish in a blender for his famous Bass-o-Matic sketch on SNL, it was straight out of Python's spoof commercials. When John Oliver sets up an oblivious interviewee on "The Daily Show," it's the same straight-faced political absurdism that makes up so many famous "Flying Circus" scenes.

Thank you, Python, for redefining funny and thereby forcing a little more thoughtful, thoughtless mirth on an unsuspecting, TV-viewing populace.

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