Gumbys are a type of recurring character in Monty Python's Flying Circus, characterized by a very distinctive appearance. If a name was listed for them, the surname given would always be "Gumby".
Gumbys would wear handkerchiefs on their heads, small moustaches, spectacles, braces, knitted Tank Tops, 1950s-style shirts rolled up to the elbows (without the detachable collar), and Wellington boots (commonly known as gumboots, which gave them their name). They would usually hold their arms in an ape-like position, speak loudly and slowly, and pronounce words syllable by syllable. Though created by John Cleese, the Gumbys were usually played by (and most affectionately remembered as being embodied by) Michael Palin. Many times, a Gumby or group of Gumbys would appear as a means of linking sketches, or briefly, give their views in one of the Vox Pops segments. A classic line from one of these is during a segment on taxation, where a Gumby, standing knee-deep in a river, says that he thinks that people who stand in water should be taxed.
A popular Gumby catchphrase is "My brain hurts!" which was used in the Brain Surgery sketch. This is also heard in the trailer for Monty Python and the Holy Grail, when the crew is supposedly "looking" for someone to voice the trailer. Whilst playing a clip of Arthur knighting a peasant, (which, actually, never made it into the final film) a Gumby (as being voiced by Michael Palin) auditions, and after being told to "Go away!" by the casting director (voiced by Eric Idle), he comments, "What's wrong with my voice? My voice is fine, it's my brain that hurts...". Other recurring Gumby elements are a violent and oafish clumsiness, and enthusiasm for banging bricks together.
In the Pythons' 30th Anniversary Special, all the surviving Pythons (except Idle, who was filled in by Eddie Izzard) played Gumbys.
Frequently, no names were given for Gumbies, but occasionally their names were listed in subtitles. Some of the names given for Gumbys were:
- Prof. R.J. Gumby (played by Graham Chapman, later Michael Palin)
- Prof. F.H. Gumby (played by Eric Idle)
- Prof. L.R. Gumby (played by Graham Chapman)
- Prof. Enid Gumby (played by John Cleese)
- D.P. Gumby (played by Michael Palin)
- Prof. R.J. Gumby's friend (played by Terry Jones)
- Gumby Brain Specialist (played by John Cleese)
- Gumby Surgeons (played by the main cast)
Notable Gumby sketches
- Gumby Crooner, first appearance
- Gumby Announcement
- Gumby Flower Arranging
- Gumby Brain Surgery
- Gumby Theatre, from Another Monty Python Record
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