Nolte: The Gloriously Inappropriate and Problematic ‘Life of Brian’ (1979)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Quick note: some of you keep asking about my thoughts on Blazing Saddles. You will find those here and here.

Can you believe that we now live in a world where Mel Brooks, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, and Monty Python would be blacklisted?

Can you believe Lenny Bruce, the uncompromising comedian who sacrificed everything to further the cause of free speech and unbridled satire, would once again find himself blacklisted today, but this time by America’s left-wing Hitler Youth?

I can’t imagine life without these giants, and I cannot even begin to put a price on how their work enriches my life. And it’s not just the laughs. Great satire provokes, makes you uncomfortable, forces you to think, and, best of all, it goads you into laughing at yourself, which is good for the soul. I’ll give you the best example I can…

Thirty-five years ago I only agreed with about half of what George Carlin had to say. Nevertheless, I remained his biggest fan. Well, guess what? Now I agree with about 80 percent. That’s a two-fer. 1) George Carlin helped to thicken my skin — and, believe me, nothing makes life easier than a thick skin — and 2) George Carlin’s humor, wisdom, and refusal to compromise helped to shape and broaden my thinking.

Why did I stick with someone who offended me half the time? Well, I like having my ideas, assumptions, and positions challenged, and while I disagreed with Carlin, I always respected the way his mind worked. So I hung in — and am much better for it.

Oh, and George Carlin didn’t do trigger warnings. One moment you’re laughing your head off, the very next he’s moved on to “God, how I hate these fucking right-wing Republicans.”

So what’s the difference between disagreeing with a George Carlin and disagreeing with today’s Woke Hitler Youth? Carlin was Aristotle — a worldly teacher who never talked down to you, whose ideas came from a place of wisdom, experience, and thought. He was looking to make you think, to broaden your mind. Today’s Woke Hitler Youth are smug and callow, superior and snide, shallow and ignorant. They demand you narrow your mind.

Whereas Carlin wanted to convince and teach you, today’s Woke Supremacists are only looking to show off their supremacy and force you to conform through bullying, emotional blackmail, threats of career ruin, and violence. Fuck them. Fuck all of them.

George Carlin sought to enlighten you.

The Woke Nazis seek to oppress you.

Where was I…?

Wanna know who first tried to kill off Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)? People on the right. Yep, those we remember as the so-called Moral Majority. Overseas in the U.K. and elsewhere, it was banned or slapped with the equivalent of an X rating. To America’s everlasting credit, Life of Brian was released here — but was still inaccurately criticized as an act of blasphemy.

The funny thing is that Life of Brian is the exact opposite of blasphemous. Although the six Python boys — Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin — were/are all atheists, their Biblical satire not only treats Jesus with respect, it portrays Jesus as the Christ, as who He said He was.

Life of Brian’s humor and satire is not aimed at Christ or Christianity… It’s not even aimed solely at organized religion. In fact, Life of Brian’s most pointed satire is aimed directly at feminists and leftists.

Like its brilliant 1975 predecessor, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian doesn’t have much of a plot. It’s a series of hysterically funny sketches held together by a loose narrative about a man named Brian (Chapman) who’s born on the same night and just a few doors down from the Baby Jesus. Later, at age 33, some idiots mistake him for the Messiah.

Jesus is directly referenced on three occasions, and all three are respectful. 1) We’re given a glimpse of the Holy Family in the manger on the night of Christ’s birth, and we see them bathed in what can only be interpreted as the holy light of God. 2) We see Jesus 33 years later “on a Saturday afternoon, at around teatime” giving His Sermon on the Mount;  a moment played straight and respectful. 3) We are told Jesus performed the miracle of curing a leper (Palin).

Is there some comedy in these scenes? Yes, but none of it directed at Christ or the Apostles or His followers or Christianity. In the first scene, the three Wise Men accidentally show up at Brian’s birth. In the second, some people in the back can’t quite hear Christ’s famous sermon (“Blessed are the cheese makers?”) and begin to squabble. In the third, a former leper (Palin) is angry at Jesus for curing him because it hurt his ability to beg for money.

Brian: Did you say “ex-leper”?
Ex-Leper: That’s right, sir, 16 years behind a veil and proud of it, sir.
Brian: Well, what happened?
Ex-Leper: Oh, cured, sir.
Brian: Cured?
Ex-Leper: Yes sir, bloody miracle, sir. Bless you!
Brian: Who cured you?
Ex-Leper: Jesus did, sir. I was hopping along, minding my own business, all of a sudden, up he comes, cures me! One minute I’m a leper with a trade, next minute my livelihood’s gone. Not so much as a by-your-leave! “You’re cured, mate.” Bloody do-gooder.

All of that is perfectly within bounds, and when the Wise Men snatch their gifts back from Baby Brian, I dare you not to laugh.

The only heresies in the Life of Brian are righteous heresies committed against the oppressive Church of Woke…. What say we count them up….


As has always been the case, the Python boys play multiple roles, and this means darkening their faces to portray a couple of the Three Wise Men. The blackface is not played for laughs. No one is demeaned over their race or skin color or ethnicity. It’s simply make-up to portray a character.

Men Dress as Women for Laughs

In the classic Python tradition, men dress as nagging women, and it’s freakin’ hilarious.

Gloriously ‘Inappropriate’ Jokes

There are rape jokes, gay jokes, Jewish jokes, speech impediment jokes, a woman gets smacked… And it’s all freakin’ hilarious.

Trans Jokes

This is simply brilliant:

“It’s symbolic of his fight against reality.”

If anything, that scene is even more relevant and revolutionary today.

Pro Western Civilization

One of Life of Brian’s driving themes is the ignorance and pettiness of left-wing revolutionaries, as well as their refusal to acknowledge all the good that has come from Western Civilization.

In one scene, a character says rhetorically, “What have the Romans ever done for us!” and this is the result…

“The aqueduct.”

“Oh. Yeah, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that’s true. Yeah.”

“And the sanitation.”

“Oh, yeah, the sanitation. Reg, remember what the city used to be like?”

“Yeah. All right. I’ll grant you the aqueduct and the sanitation are two things that the Romans have done.”

“All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”

“Brought peace.”

“Oh. Peace? Shut up!”

Don’t misunderstand, Life of Brian portrays the Romans as oppressors. No one’s defending Rome’s oppression of Judea, or any kind of oppression. This scene is about defending the undeniable benefits of Western Civilization, something that was and is — using the sheep’s clothing of liberation — under attack by the left.

 The Oppressive Pettiness of the Left’s Speech Police

The “Loretta” scene embedded above is a good example of this, but throughout the movie, we watch a small group of left-wing revolutionaries get nothing done due to their own petty narcissism.

After “Loretta” comes out as a woman, no one is allowed to speak clearly for fear of offense, which means nothing gets done. Brothers, er, sisters, I mean siblings…

This also pokes fun at left-wing feminists whose narcissistic pettiness knows no bounds.

Then there’s the famous scene involving the stoning of anyone who commits the blasphemy of speaking the Lord’s name (Jehovah) out loud. What’s so brilliant about this scene is that, just like we see today with so many words, context doesn’t matter. For example, when the soldier (Cleese) in charge of the stoning of the blasphemer says, “All right, nobody say ‘Jehovah.'” the crowd throws rocks at him for saying “Jehovah.”

The soldier is saying don’t say “Jehovah” and he’s stoned for committing blasphemy.

This should sound very familiar, for if I were to write “Don’t say n***er” without the stars, I’d be called a racist, even though I’m saying don’t say it.

Despite its bawdy humor, Life of Brian is ultimately a very moral movie. To begin with, and this cannot be said enough, it does not mock Christ or God or faith in God.

Overall, what Life of Brian is about is encouraging us to reject the horrors of groupthink and to think for ourselves. The movie is about the God-given right of the individual to be whoever he wants to be, the stupidity and danger of those who oppress individualism, and how pathetic those are who mindlessly “join,” who are terrified to think for and to stand up for themselves — to be their own man.

Most importantly, at no point — unlike the Woke fascism produced today — does Life of Brain attempt to shame or bully or coerce you into believing and thinking a certain way. At no point does the movie lecture you and say, You must believe this or You must be this or This is right and this is wrong.

The true targets here are the mindless and weak-willed who are so insecure, cowardly, and neurotic, they cannot wait to submit themselves to some kind of authority, to groupthink, even if that includes a mindless mob, a false prophet, or petty revolutionaries.

Life of Brian is pro-individual and pro-individualism, and that, in my opinion, is the most moral and morally important thing in the secular world, which is why there is no way in hell it could be made today — not in an entertainment industry that has turned against free speech and expression, that has wholly embraced groupthink, that demands fealty and conformity to the Woke Hitler Youth.


Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.


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