In the 1979 movie Monty Python's Life of Brian, there's scene where Brian (the protagonist) is captured by the Roman soldiers and brought to Pilate. Pilate seems to have rhotacism (a speech impediment that is defined by the lack of ability, or difficulty in, pronouncing the sound R). The segment I am talking about begins around 0:30 of this YouTube clip.

Pilate: Now, what is your name, Jew?
Brian: Brian.
Pilate: Bwian, eh?
Brian: No, Brian. (the Centurion cuffs him.)
Pilate: (sniggers) The little wascal has thpiwit.
Centurion: (confused) Has what, sir?
Pilate: THPIWIT.
Centurion: Yes, he did, sir.
Pilate: No, no, thpiwit...bwavado...a touch of dewwing-do.
Centurion: Ah. About eleven, sir.

Here, what were the apparent questions that Centurion answers with "Yes, he did, sir." and "Ah. About eleven, sir."?

  • 3
    I'm not sure the Centurion necessarily understood anything. It may well be that he couldn't make head nor tails out of Pilate's words, and just "winged it" and answered question that he guessed Pilate might be asking.
    – Henning Kockerbeck
    Aug 4, 2021 at 9:51
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    @HenningKockerbeck that's the point of the question here. What question might he have been answering. Sandun has asked us to enter an episode of Jeopardy with the Centurion.
    – Jontia
    Aug 4, 2021 at 9:55
  • 2
    @Jontia I don't think there's any connection between what Pilates says to the answer. Answering with the time is a common joke when the question is misheard, normally used by those hard of hearing. The joke here is flipping it so the fault is by the speaker not the listener and making it a touch more absurd/Python-esque. Aug 4, 2021 at 10:03
  • 1
    Non sequitur is a common joke in Python. Non sequitur and repetition.. are two common jokes in Python...
    – HorusKol
    Aug 4, 2021 at 11:48
  • 2
    Non sequitur, repetition & adding new postulates… amongst the common jokes in Monty Python ...
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 4, 2021 at 12:17

2 Answers 2


There are no 'apparent questions' The joke is simply that the Centurion has no idea what Pilate has said so he gives a random answer that he hopes will do. He has already questioned Pilate once and doesn't want to do it again as that would draw attention to his speech impediment.


Spiwit (spirit) - spew it or maybe spilled it. Either he has thrown up or "spilled the beans", as in, answered all their questions.

Dewing do (daring do- courage) - Doing doo, taking a crap, went to the loo.

That's how I understood the scene.

  • 4
    He's saying "spirit" and "derring-do" with a lisp that makes him incomprehensible to the centurion. I don't think there's any wordplay here.
    – Shamshiel
    Aug 4, 2021 at 11:33

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