The television series Monty Python's Flying Circus was shot in front of a live studio audience. It includes live sketches on a stage or set, and the audience can be heard laughing. However, much of the televised show is shot elsewhere or is animated. During those cutaway scenes, live studio audience can be heard laughing some of the time, but often the humorous pre-recorded scenes / animations play out with no audio of the audience's reaction.

From the point of view of someone in the live studio audience for a taping, what did an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus look like throughout the 30-or-so minutes of the show? Was there one stage, or multiple stages? Were there monitors the audience was watching too? Did they see all of the the prerecorded skits, bits, and animations, or just some of them? Was the length of a taping the same as the length of a televised episode?

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    I've always wondered this about live sketch shows too. I usually just assume there is a projection screen somewhere that the audience can see, but I'd be interested to see if anyone can confirm this.
    – sanpaco
    Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 21:46
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    @sanpaco In some modern-day studios, there are overhead televisions that the audience can watch. I don't know if this technology was common / inexpensive when Monty Python was shooting. Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 22:30
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    I can't recall which book, but one of the Pythons mentioned that "cutaway" segments, bits that weren't seen by an actual live audience, had the laughter dubbed from previous tapings. Kind of a DIY laugh track. Likely didn't apply to every instance, though. Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 1:56

1 Answer 1


Although the studio scenes were shot in front of a live audience, the scenes that were shot elsewhere were played on monitors for the audience and their reaction was recorded over them. In their first season you can tell that their early audiences were quiet, they didn't get it at first.

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    If you can verify this answer with sources it would be much enhanced.
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 10:31
  • @Paulie_D Agreed! That's why I didn't choose this as The Answer. Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 17:24
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    One reference on-line: dvdmg.com/flyingcircus.shtml but mostly I got that from John Cleese's autobiography. Both have been referenced in various Reddit and Quora postings as well.
    – JRaef
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 1:55

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