A Facebook group about general trivia stated that the soldiers in the famous "Biggus Dickus" in Life of Brian were unaware of the jokes in the scene, and therefore their attempts to refrain from laughing are actually genuine.

I've found an IMDb Trivia record about it:

When Michael Palin as Pontius Pilate addressed the soldiers daring them to laugh, he was truly daring them. The soldier extras were ordered to stand there and not laugh, but not told what Palin was going to do. Palin, in fact, can barely stifle his own laughter when saying "Biggus Dickus" in front of the soldier asked if he finds the name "risible".

But other than that, no credible source, like an interview with the actors or anything alike.

Is there any source that can verify this trivia item?


I have a physical copy of Monty Python's Encyclopythonia; which contains some interviews with the Python members.

It's not that the guards weren't aware of the script. They were. However, when the scene was being shot, one of the actors couldn't help but laugh because of Michael Palin's character. It was just that funny.

Instead of ending the scene, Palin stayed in character and approached the guard; resulting in the scene you are referring to.

However, that does not prove that the guard's reactions (after their initial unintended outburst) were genuine. They could have picked up on the fact that Palin was improvising, and they continued the scene based on how Palin was steering the conversation.

Monty Python is well known for its improvisation. In improv, when you are dealing with more than one actor; all actors need to understand what they are acting out, and will therefore "build a sketch together" on the fly.

Presumably, only the initial laugh was genuine. The rest is simply a continuation of the scene in an improvised manner.

  • 2
    Wow. Excellent answer. Thank you. For the sake of future readers, could you please add an accurate reference to the exact page in the Encyclopythonia? – Adam Matan May 29 '17 at 8:48
  • 2
    @AdamMatan: The EncycloPythonia is a DVD collection of all movies (except The Meaning of Life, for some reason...) and some bonus discs. The DVD set looks like a big book; hence the name of the boxset :) It's not an actual book. I could not find an online reference to this but I remember the origins of the scene as I did a school report on it in the past :) – Flater May 29 '17 at 8:57

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