The Mouse Problem
The Mouse Problem was a sketch in Monty Python's Flying Circus, a popular BBC comedy series. The sketch was part of the second episode (Sex and Violence), in the show's first series, first airing 13 October 1969. An audio version was distributed on side 1, track 5 of the Monty Python's Flying Circus album, released in 1970.
Although occasionally assumed to be about illicit drugs, the sketch is generally accepted as a satire of period coverage of homosexuality (the Stonewall riots had taken place just a few months before). Some members of the furry fandom find it interesting to compare this satire with media coverage of furry fandom in the present day. It is "re-discovered every few years" by those new to the fandom.
The sketch was reportedly cut on rebroadcast into the USA, eliminating the section with The Amazing Kargol. Some suggest that this is due to the promotion of bestiality, arson and murder, all of which were hot topics in mid-1970s USA.
The curtain rises on a crowd of protesters holding signs up as the show's title appears - The World Around Us.
The signs read:
- Hands Off Mice
- End Discrimination: Mice is Nice!
- REPEAL!! Anti-mouse Laws Now!
- Ho Ho Ho... Traps Must GO
They are followed by a cut to shots of the News of the World ("Pop Stars in Mouse Scandal"), and the Daily Express ("Peer Faces Rodent Charges"). A policeman is shown taking a mouse-costumed individual into a police station, overlaid by the title - The Mouse Problem.
The camera cuts to another newspaper shot, of the Times ("Mouse Clubs on the Increase"), followed by several strip tease establishments advertising "Squeakerama", "The Little White Rodent Room", the "Eek Eek Club", and "Caerphilly a Go Go".
A presenter is revealed
- Presenter (Michael Palin): Yes, the mouse problem. This week, The World Around Us looks at the growing social phenomenon of mice and men. What makes a man want to be a mouse?
Cut to documentary-style opposing-chairs interview of a young male (Mr. A):
- Mr. A (John Cleese): Well, uh, it's not a question of wanting to be a mouse. It just sort of happens to you. Erm . . . all of a sudden, you realize - that's what you wanna be.
- Interviewer (Terry Jones): And when did you first notice these - shall we say - tendencies?
- Mr. A: Well, I was about 17, and, uh, some mates and me . . . went to a party. And, uh, well, we had quite a lot to drink, and then some of the fellas there . . . started . . . handin' cheese around. Well, just out of curiosity, I tried a bit, and . . . well, that was that.
- Interviewer: Yes, and what else did these fellows do?
- Mr. A: Well, some of them started . . . dressing up as mice a bit, um. And then when they got the costumes on, they . . . started . . . squeaking.
- Interviewer: And was that all?
- Mr. A (hurriedly): That was all.
- Interviewer: And what was your reaction to all this?
- Mr. A: Well, I was shocked.
- Interviewer: Yes.
- Mr. A: But, uh . . . gradually I came to feel that I was more at ease with other mice.
We return to the studio
- Presenter: A typical case, whom we shall refer to as Mr. A - although his real name is this:
ARTHUR JACKSON, 32a MILTON AVENUE, HOUNSLOW MIDDX.
- Presenter: What is it that attracts someone like Mr. A to this way of life? I have with me a consultant psychiatrist.
The Amazing Kargol (Graham Chapman) puts out sign: "The Amazing Kargol and Janet"
- The Amazing Kargol: Well, we just heard a typical case history. I myself have over 700 similar histories, all fully documented. Would you . . . care to choose one?
Camera pans to show Janet (Carol Cleveland) in a conjurer's assistant's costume, offering a fan of cards with one prominently positioned, which the presenter picks.
- The Amazing Kargol: Mr. Arthur Aldridge of . . . Lemmington!
- Presenter: Well, that's amazing.
- The Amazing Kargol: Thank you.
- Presenter: Thank you, Janet.
Janet walks off to 'tah-dah' music.
- Presenter: Kargol, speaking as a psychiatrist, as opposed to a conjurer . . .
- Kargol: Oh.
- Presenter: What makes certain men want to be mice?
- Kargol: Well, we psychiatrists have found that over 8% of the population will always be mice. I mean, after all, there's something of the mouse in all of us. I mean, how many of us can honestly say . . .
The presenter starts nodding
- Kargol: . . . that at one time or another he hasn't felt sexually attracted to mice.
The presenter stops nodding
- Kargol: I know I have. I mean, most normal adolescents go through a stage of squeaking; two or three times a day. Most youngsters, on the other hand . . . some youngsters, are attracted to it by its very illegality. It's like murder. Make a thing illegal, and it acquires a mystique. I mean, look at arson.
The presnter shows increasing signs of distraction
- Kargol: How many of us can honestly say that at one time or another he hasn't set fire to some great public building. I know I have!
Phone on the desk starts ringing, the presenter picks it up and muffles it under his arm
- Kargol: The only way, the only way to bring the crime figures down is to reduce the number of offences. Get it out in the open! I know I have . . .
- Presenter: Mmm. The Amazing Kargol and Janet.
The camera zooms swiftly onto the presenter
- Presenter: What a lot of people don't realize is that a mouse, once accepted, can fulfill a very useful role in society. Indeed, there are examples throughout history of famous men, now known to have been mice.
Cut to shot of Julius Caesar (Chapman) on a hilltop
- Caesar: Veni, vidi, vici.
Caesar looks both ways.
- Caesar: *eep*
Cut to shot of Napoléon Bonaparte (Jones) in his famous hand-inside-shirt stance. Withdrawing the hand, he reveals that he was concealing a large wedge of cheese, which he takes a bite of.
- Presenter: And, of course, Hilaire Belloc. But what is the attitude of . . .
- Random viking (Eric Idle): . . . the man in the street towards . . .
- Presenter: . . . this growing social problem?
Cut to varied scenes of people in daily life
- Window-cleaner (Idle): Clamp down on them.
- Presenter: How?
- Window-cleaner: I'd strangle 'em.
- Stockbroker (Cleese): Well, speaking as a member of the stock exchange, I would suck their brains out with a straw, uh, sell the widows and orphans, and go into South American zinc.
- Butcher (Jones): Yeah, uh, I'd stuff sparrows down their throats, uh, until the beaks stuck out through their stomach walls.
- Accountant (Chapman): Oh, uh, I'm a Chartered Accountant, and consequentially too boring to be of any interest.
- Vicar (Cleese): I feel that these poor, unfortunate people should be free to live the lives of their own choice.
The vicar motions up to scratch his ear, in the manner of a rodent
- Porter (Jones): I'd, uh, split their nostrils open with a boat-hook, I think.
- Man in garden (Chapman): Oh, well, uh, they can't help it, can they? But, uh, there's nothing you can do about it, uh, so, I'd kill em.
Back in the studio
- Presenter: Clearly, the British public's view is a hostile one. Hostile.
Yellow board with red writing, and elegant female voiceover: "Hostile!"
- Presenter: But perhaps this is because so little is generally known of these mice-men. We have have some film now, taken at one of the notorious weekend mouse parties where these disgusting little perverts meet.
Shot of people in mice costumes in silhouette
- Presenter: Mr. A tells us what actually goes on at these mouse parties.
- Mr. A: Well, uh, first you get shown to your own private hole in the skirting-board. Uh, then you put the mouse skin on, um . . .
Mr. A raises his upper lip in a mouselike fashion
- Mr. A: Then you . . . scurry into the main room, and p'rhaps, uh, take a run in the wheel.
- Presenter: The remainder of this film was taken secretly at one of these mouse parties by a BBC cameraman posing as a vole. As usual, we apologize for the poor quality of the film.
Cut to shot of people in mice costumes gnawing ferociously at cheese (Their mouse heads make it impossible to identify the performers)
- Mr. A: Well, uh, then you steal some cheese; Brie or Camembert, or Cheddar or Gouda if you're on the 'arder stuff. Erm, you might go and see one of the blue cheese films. Then . . . there's a big clock in the middle of the room, and about 12:50, you climb up it. And then . . .
A shot of a poorly-disguised, mustached man (Jones?) in woman's clothing brandishing a chopping knife.
- Mr. A: . . . eventually the clock strikes one, and you all run down.
- Confessor: What's that?
The "woman" starts to chop at a jumping mouse's tail with the knife.
- Mr. A: That's the farmer's wife.
- Presenter: Yes . . . perhaps we need to know more of these mice-men before we can really judge them. Perhaps not. Anyway, our 30 minutes are up.
A sheep from a previous sketch flies over with a *BAAAH*, presenter takes out a gun and shoots it dead
- Presenter: Goodnight!
- The Mouse Problem post on alt.politics.homosexuality (Retrieved March 22, 2007)
- Monty Python's "Mouse Problem" sketch post on alt.fan.furry (Retrieved March 22, 2007)
- Monty Python and The Mouse Problem on alt.fan.furry (Retrieved March 22, 2007)
- Mouse Problem - Monty Python - alt.fan.furry (Retrieved March 22, 2007)
- Monty Python #1: Edit post on alt.fan.monty-python (Retrieved March 22, 2007)
- A spoof of the long-running British investigative journalism TV show, Panorama
- Caerphilly cheese would become a staple of Monty Python, made infamous by the "Cheese Shop" sketch