My misspent youth had a laugh track provided by the Monty Python crew. There was a time when saying “Neet” in a crowded room was a great way to find a fellow nerd and future friend. Like all good comics, and any prophet, the Pythons mocked the powerful and punctured pretensions.

Anybody thinking the government is here to help has never met the Ministry of Silly Walks. The well placed sneer can deflate a tyrant better than a jeremiad.

Irreverence can be good, but isn’t always. Pity the spouse of a person who uses a deflating snigger at his own wedding. Devils cannot bear to be mocked, but lovers cannot stand it either. I might poke gentle fun at my beloved in private, but it is hard to hear someone else do it.

That makes it hard to admit that The Life of Brian made me laugh. This late seventies film by the Pythons sends up the Gospel story by imaging a parallel non-Christ named Brian. From blessed cheese makers to inept Romans, the script is witty, though some of the gags are dated.

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