In college I took a course on the ancient origins of modern comedy. Plautus and his antecedents and all that. Comes now news that one of most brilliant and apparently original modern comic bits — Monty Python’s Dead Parrot sketch — likewise is grounded in the work of the ancients. In this case it’s an ancient Greek, Philogelos, a new translation of whom is reported by the BBC.
Philogelos: The Laugh Addict, which has been translated from Greek manuscripts, contains a joke where a man complains that a slave he was sold had died.
“When he was with me, he never did any such thing!” is the reply.
As with many derivative works (!), the modern version seems superior. Judge for yourself:
[h/t: Friend of Madisonian Laura Heymann]