Vintage TV: ABC’s AM America and Monty Python

A post from 2008, retold.

What would happen if Monty Python hosted a morning television news program?


It actually happened once. In 1975, ABC debuted AM America, its first morning news show. At about the same time, Monty Python released their seminal film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and were, I’m sure, looking for promotional opportunities. Somebody at ABC thought it might be amusing to have Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, and Terry Gilliam sit at the anchor desk for an hour. Here it is, with all the pesky news bits clipped out for maximum Pythonage.

I think the best parts of this clip are the looks on Peter Jennings’ face and at the end when Eric, Michael, and Graham carry host Stephanie Edwards away and then dismantle the set.

If you don’t remember AM America, it’s because it was canned after ten months. Clearly, Monty Python’s antics did not help AM America catch on.


9 responses to “Vintage TV: ABC’s AM America and Monty Python”

  1. J P Cavanaugh Avatar

    I had completely forgotten about AM America. But everyone remembers Monty Python. I was in high school at the time, and they were simply huge then.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I was too young. But my parents weren’t. They watched Monty Python’s Flying Circus on PBS.

  2. George Denzinger Avatar
    George Denzinger

    Wow, what a disaster… What were they smoking (ABC management) back then? I have to believe that they were trying the host’s patience tremedously and Peter Jennings just looked irritated by the whole escapade. In as much as I loved Monty Python, you can’t simply insert absurdist humor into a news program without it becoming childish.

    What’s even more fascinating to me, is the complete juxtaposition of the MP boys clowning around interspersed with clips of Peter Jennings’ reports on the fall of Saigon (arguably the biggest story of 1975). To update this, imagine a comedy troupe insisting on performing their schtick while folks were trying to report the day’s events of September 11, 2001…

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Wow, you haven’t been watching GMA or Today lately, have you. They’re bloody train wrecks, full of nonsense. This was a walk in the park in comparison.

      1. George Denzinger Avatar
        George Denzinger

        No I guess not. I’m usually at work that time of day, so I don’t see ANY morning shows . Apparently I’m not missing too much. Maybe the boys from Monty were just way ahead of their time? LOL…

  3. pesoto74 Avatar

    I can see how their humor would be lost on a mainstream audience back in those days. Although they were very big on the PBS stations back then. I remember my first taste of the Python humor was when Marty Feldman used some of Terry Gilliam’s cartoons on his show in the early 70’s.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I didn’t really get into Python until about college. I got to see Graham Chapman give a humorous lecture down at IU somewhere during my college career!

  4. Steve Miller Avatar
    Steve Miller

    Have you ever seen the movie, “Groove Tube”? Great, satirical send-up of try-anything programming, but it really has nothing on the “real” parts of this clip.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Haven’t seen it! Will be on the lookout.

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