Bookshop Skit

Bookshop Skit, written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman was first broadcast on March 1st 1967 in the ITV series 'At Last the I948 Show'. Original cast: Assistant John Cleese; Customer Marty Feldman.

The script was published in 'The Golden Skits of Wing-Commander Murial Volestrangler FRHS and Bar', Methuen 1984. You may be lucky enough to find a copy of this rare and valuable title and indeed other Python material in Inprint's entertainment catalogue. There's lots of Python stuff on the net but probably the best place to start is MontyPython.net.

 

A quite spacious bookshop. A customer enters and approaches the counter, behind which stands an assistant.

Assistant  Good morning, sir.
Customer Good morning. Can you help me? Do you have a copy of         'Thirty Days In the Samarkand Desert with a Spoon' by A.E.J. Elliott?  
Assistant Urn ... well, we haven't got it in stock, sir.
Customer Never mind. How about 'A Hundred and One Ways to Start a Monsoon'?
Assistant ... By ... ?
Customer An Indian gentleman whose name eludes me for the moment.
Assistant  I'm sorry, I don't know the book, sir.
Customer Not to worry, not to worry. Can you help me with 'David Copperfield'?
Assistant Ah, yes. Dickens ...
Customer No.
Assistant ... I beg your pardon?
Customer No, Edmund Wells.
Assistant ... I think you'll find Charles Dickens wrote 'David Copperfield', sir.
Customer No, Charles Dickens wrote 'David Copperfield' with two 'p's.     This is 'David Coperfield' with one 'p' by Edmund Wells.
Assistant  (a little sharply) Well in that case we don't have it.
Customer Funny, you've got a lot of books here.
Assistant We do have quite a lot of books here, yes, but we don't have   David Coperfield' with one 'p' by Edmund Wells. We only have 'David Copperfield' with two 'p's by Charles Dickens.
Customer Pity - it's more thorough than the Dickens.
Assistant More thorough?
Customer Yes ... I wonder if it's worth having a look through all your         'David Copperfields'...
Assistant  I'm quite sure all our 'David Copperfields' have two 'p's.
Customer Probably, but the first edition by Edmund Wells also had two 'p's. It was after that they ran into copyright difficulties.
Assistant No, I can assure you that all our 'David Copperfields' with two 'p's are by Charles Dickens.
Customer How about 'Grate Expectations?
Assistant Ah yes, we have that ...
He goes to fetch it and returns to the counter.
Customer ... That's 'G-r-a-t-e Expectations', also by Edmund Wells.
Assistant I see. In that case, we don't have it. We don't have anything by Edmund Wells, actually - he's not very popular.
Customer Not 'Knickerless Nickleby'? That's K-n-i-c-k-e-r
Assistant No!
Customer Or 'Quristmas Quarol 'with a Q?
Assistant No, definitely ... not.
Customer Sorry to trouble you.
Assistant Not at all.
Custormer  I wonder if you have a copy of 'Rarnaby Budge'?
Assistant  (rather loudly) No, as I say, we're right out of Edmund Wells.
Customer No, not Edmund Wells - Charles Dikkens.
Assistant Charles Dickens?
Customer Yes.
Assistant You mean 'Barnaby Rudge'.
Customer No, 'Rarnaby Budge' by Charles Dikkens ... that's Dikkens with two 'k's, the well-known Dutch author.
Assistant No, no - we don't have 'Rarnaby Budge' by Charles Dikkens with two 'k's the well-known Dutch author, and perhaps to save time I should add right away that we don't have 'Carnaby Fudge' by Daries Tikkens, nor 'Stickwick Stapers' by Miles Pikkens with four Ms and a silent Q, why don't you try the chemist?
Customer I did. They sent me here.
Assistant (making a mental note) ... Did they?
Customer I wonder if you have . . . 'The Amazing Adventures of Captain Gladys Stoat-Pamphlet and her Intrepid Spaniel Stig among the Giant Pygmies of Corsica', Volume Two.
Assistant  No, we don't have that one. Well, I mustn't keep you standing around all day ..
Customer I wonder if ...
Assistant No, no, we haven't got it. I'm closing for lunch now anyway.
The assistant moves rapidly away from the counter.
Customer ... But I thought I saw it over there.
The assistant checks and turns slowly.
Assistant ... What?
Customer Over there.
He indicates a bookshelf
Customer 'Olsen's Standard Book of British Birds'.
Assistant  (very suspiciously) 'Olsen's Standard Book of British Birds'?
Customer Yes.
Assistant  ... 0-l-s-e-n?
Customer Yes!
Assistant B-i-r-d-s?
Customer Yes!
Assistant  Well, we do have that one, yes.
He goes and takes the book off a shelf
Customer  ...The expurgated version, of course.
Assistant  ...I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that.
Customer The expurgated version.
Assistant The expurgated version of 'Olsen's Standard Book of British Birds'?
Customer Yes. The one without the gannet.
Assistant  The one without the gannet?! They've all got the gannet it's a standard bird, the gannet, it's in all the books.
Customer Well I don't like them. They've got long nasty beaks! And they wet their nests.
Assistant But ... but you can't expect them to produce a special edition for gannet-haters!
Customer I'm sorry, I specially want the one without the gannet.
The assistant is speechless.
Assistant All right!
He suddenly tears out the relevant page.
Assistant Anything else?
Customer Well, I'm not too keen on robins.
Assistant Right! Robins, robins ...
He tears that one out too and slams the book on the counter.
Assistant No gannets, no robins - there's your book!
Customer I can't buy that. It's torn.
Assistant . . ..So it is! He tosses it into the bin.
Customer I wonder if you've got ...
Assistant Go on! Ask me another.
Customer How about 'Biggles Combs his Hair'?
Assistant No, no, we haven't got that one, funny. Try me again.
Customer 'The Gospel According to Charlie Drake'?
Assistant No ...
Customer  Have you got 'Ethel the Aardvark Goes Quantity-Surveying'?
Assistant No, no, we haven't ... which one?
Customer 'Ethel the Aardvark Goes Quantity-Surveying'.
Assistant 'Ethel the Aardvark'?! I've seen it! We've got it!!
He dashes to a bookshelf, finds it, and holds it up triumphantly.
Assistant Here! Here!!! 'Ethel the Aardvark Goes Quantity Surveying'. Now - buy it!
He slams it on the desk. The customer stares in horror!
Customer ... I haven't got enough money on me.
Assistant (quickly) I'll take a deposit!
Customer I haven't got any money on me.
Assistant I'll take a cheque!
Customer I haven't got a cheque book!
Assistant It's all right, I've got a blank one!
Customer I don't have a bank account!!
Assistant ... All right!! I'll buy it for You!
He rings the purchase up and pays for it himself. He gives the change to the customer.
Assistant There we are, there's your change - that's for the taxi home ...
Customer Wait! Wait! Wait!
Assistant  What? What? What?!!!
Customer ... I can't read ...
Assistant  Right! Sit!! ...
He sits the customer down on his knees and starts to read aloud.
Assistant  'Ethel the Aardvark was trotting down the lane one lovely sununer day, trottety-trottety-trot, when she saw a nice Quantity-Surveyor . .
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