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Why laughter is not only the best medicine, but the best teacher


I was only 15 going on 16 when I saw a movie that absolutely changed my life and I had no idea it was happening.

The film was “Monthy Python’s Life Of Brian” and when it hit the cinema screens it caused all sorts of conflict in the religious field because primarily that is all anyone saw in the film. But the film was not a treatise on faith. It was a treatise on the human condition.

The film starts with a swipe at children of Aquarius. We see a manger in the town of Bethlehem; not the famous manger of the man who would influence the lives of billions, but the manger next door. In that, a child is also born. And in the movie, the wise men arrive here first by mistake.

The wise men arrive bearing gifts and seeking to worship the child that the star had led them to.

“So what star sign is he?” asks Mandy confounding the wise men.

“Sorry?” one replies.

“Well..your astrologers, so what star sign is he?” she asks as any mother may in seeking the future of their children.

“Umm Capricorn”, one of the three replies.

“Oh. And what are they like?”

“He is the Messiah! The son of God! King of the Jews!”

“And that’s Capricorn is it?”

“No no no! Thats just him.”

“Oh! I was gonna say. Otherwise there would be a lot of them.”


And so began my induction to the world of humor. In one small scene, these comedians had demonstrated a range of human conditions from hope for ones children, to the desire to know one’s future and to the ridicule of what I had considered solid reality. The absurdity of the film continued and every scene a mirror was raised to the world and we were dared to look at ourselves. 

The film moves on. We discover the wonders of the cheesemakers and that how that wasn’t meant to be taken literally but it refers to all manufacturers of dairy products. We learn that Mandy, Brian’s mother is a single mum. Brian’s father we find out later is a child of the system; a roman soldier that had wooed Mandy with the promise of all the gold that she can eat. It’s funny, but is it really?

Yes. And no. Yes because it is bloody funny! And no, because in reality this occurs all the time.

The film does not let you think. It keeps at you relentlessly. My favourite scenes I have provided links below. And it is THESE scenes that are what has made me who I am.

We see the way people are punished with the stoning scene. We see the angst in the people with their with their ‘political oppresser’ and we see the way people take out their angst against their society.

My favourite political scenes are below: (be warned….bad language ensues)

Lets start with the concept of equality; an issue raised in this last federal election with the concept of gay marriage.

Later Brian arrives. Now disenchanted with his place in the world, he seeks out a radical solution.

He seeks them out and asks nervously…

“Are you the Judean People’s Front?”

And that last line still has me splitting my sides and crying at the same time.

“Whatever happened to the Popular Front, Reg?”

“He’s over there.”

Silly? Whatever happened to the Democrats, Reg? He’s over there. (Australian Politcal gag)

And now the ideal scene of the cabinet room…

Ahh yes.. “they” have bled “us” dry! And what have they ever given us? It’s always about us isn’t it.

I will stop now. Seriously I could go on and on and on with this brilliant movie that held a mirror to us humans and showed us warts and all. The most amazing thing about this film though is it was written and released before the Bob Hawke era. And yet the scene is so fresh, it could be happening now in Canberra.

I wont spoil anymore. I do recommend you go get it this weekend and watch it again and laugh. There is one scene though that I want to highlight. They say those of us who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. This one scene had me splitting my sides again because its bloody funny. But also very scary.

That is humor. This is not.

I apologise for upsetting anyone with that. But I had no choice. Life is a two-sided coin. What we are warned about in humor and we fail to act on can turn to cause us tragedy. I have dabbled in acting. And I recall one thing that still gets me today.

What is the difference between comedy and tragedy?

Comedy is you watch someone slip on a banana.

Tragedy is YOU slip on the banana.

Okay. Let me finish at least on a good note. On some optimism and hopefully we can all find this optimism suits us better than despair. 

A. Ghebranious

 A link to the entire script is here

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