The "It's" man opened the comedy television series Monty Python's Flying Circus by approaching the camera from a great distance, collapsing, and gasping "It's" which is immediately followed by the announcer crisply stating, "Monty Python's Flying Circus." This was a running gag on the show; the joke was that the "It's" man never got to say anything other than that single word. The "It's" man seemed to be aware of his predicament, and was usually raggedly-dressed, rather morose, and put-upon.
Portrayed by Michael Palin, the "It's" man appeared on the first episode by staggering onto a beach. According to Palin, while rehearsing the gag, he nearly drowned when the tide came in. Palin recreated this moment himself on the 30th Anniversary show in 1999.
In the first series, the "It's" man has long appearances, where he always finds himself in a pretty tight spot (coming from the sea, falling from cliffs, being run down by cars, being handed bombs, emerging from a jungle etc.). Later in the first series, his appearances became shorter and were often speeded-up. Since the second series, he simply appeared for a few seconds (after John Cleese's announcer saying "And now for something completely different"), just long enough to say "It's" before being cut short by the opening credits. During the first series, he reappeared at the end of every show, returning to where he had come from, while the ending credits rolled over. In the first episode, for example, he returned to the sea. Later, the credits rolled over black screen or on a scene somehow connected to the last sketch in the episode.
In Episode 28, the "It's" man was given his own chat show, with Ringo Starr and Lulu as his guests. This is also one of the few instances when he says any other words - after the opening theme music, he says "Hello, good evening...welcome." (Other instances of polysyllabic utterances include a "Lemon Curry" cutaway in the third season, and a vox pop in the second, where he made the following joke: "I would tax Raquel Welch. And I have a feeling she would tax me.") However, the show was cut short by his saying the single word "It's", immediately after which the theme music began to play again and the credits shown. Starr and Lulu get up angrily, and Palin attempts to seat them, to no avail. After trying to physically force Starr into a chair, almost tackling him, Palin gives up and the screen blacks out.
- It's Man Show. Retrieved on April 2, 2007
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