Monty Python's Big Red Book
The Monty Python books were made to give the show a life outside the screen. In the 1970s, consumer-recording devices didn't exist, so if you missed a show you missed a show. No re-runs. One vital element of these books is the way in which the collective energies of humor, performance, sound, music, and set design come together and is translated from a live format to a still or flat one. The books are also important examples of how documents or support publications relate to an existing institution, but can exist independently in its own form.
The Monty Python books, c. 1971–1974. Most were designed by the great Derek Birdsall* with Katy Hepburn, but this edition is done by Hepburn herself. As an aside, Birdsall became a member of Monty Python for a period while they made the books. We once read that making him part of the team was one economic model they established in order to get him paid. Secondhand paperback.
*Birdsall speaks more about Hepburn in this great interview.
The endorsements on the back cover are the best synopsis, though:
“Its back is too hard” —F. R. Gumby
“I laughed a lot” —S. J. Perelman (no relation at all)
“For me perhaps the finest book written in the English language since Bleak House” —
F. R. Leavis (in 'Talking about Middlemarch,' 1958)
“Pass the butter” —Coleridge (Table Talk, 1816)
“Super”—David Frost (from and idea by Anthony Jay; additional material by: Austin Mitchell, Robson and Macpharlane, Alan Hutchinson, Stephen Jay Greenblatt, Larry Cryer, John Watt, Roger Hancock, Kenneth Being, Roger Last, George Clarke, Parnell and Holocaust, Len Ashley, Terry Bayler, Brian Tipping Codd, Johnnie Booth, Madge Ryan, Bruce Hebbern, Syd Lottery, Terry Hughes, David Paradine, Christopher Thynne, S. Bedford, Sheridan Morely, Tim Brooke-Taylor, William Wright, Neil Shand)
“Bottom” —A. J. Ayer (age 4)