The Ministry Of Silly Numbering

As I’d mentioned in my prior post about the 1995 Cornerstone Communications Inc. Monty Python’s Flying Circus card set, there are several instances of card numbering that will give some people fits (and likely intentionally so).

For starters, there is NO card #6 (as is made clear on card #7)

Which is a reference to the “Bruces” sketch:

There are also two cards numbered 43.  The checklist shows card #27 as being “sketch: lumberjack”, and there is a card that fits that description…

…but it’s got #43 on the back, not #27.  There’s another card (which I didn’t scan, nor did I scan the backs of either or the checklists… bloody amateur, right?) that is also #43.  One must be careful when collecting this set from scratch.

Finally, there’s the matter of card #5… or perhaps one would say card fives…  or cards five?

Anyway, there are three different cards which each have this front:

but each has a different back.

The three different cards with the same front echoes the “How to recognize different types of trees from quite a long way away” sketch, part of which is here.

As for the backs, I’ll go through them in an order of my chosing; one card is definitely the third, but the other two could be first or second, it really doesn’t matter.

One back for card #5:

Conrad Poohs and his Dancing Teeth is the first one I’ll mention.

This really doesn’t work as a card unless you already know Conrad Poohs… and at any rate that “you have to know the source material” concept is true of most of this set.

For those who aren’t familiar and are reading this anyway (and God bless you for that), here’s a version of that Terry Gilliam animation;  this clip has a German voiceover because this particular clip is from one of two episodes Python did for German Television…

Another back for card #5:
This back is part of a “link” between sketches:

Here’s the text (corrected for accuracy) should you be reading this on a  phone or other small screen:

“Well, I object to all this sex on the television…  I mean, I keep falling off!”

This joke was Britain’s entry for this year’s Rubber Mac of Zurich award.

It lost.

This joke worked a lot better (relatively speaking) back at the time, as television sets were usually housed in large wooden cabinets and were essentially pieces of furniture.

Interestingly enough, the card *actually* says “I object to all this sex on television” instead of the correct “on the television”… this pretty much ruins the joke, but I don’t know how funny you’d think it was if you only knew it from the card, anyway.  It’s also interesting that the original concluded with “It came last”, while the card says “It lost”.

Oh, and as long as I’m being overly analytical, I’ll just mention that a “mac” – short for mackintosh – is a raincoat.  Some well-known songs which use the word mac in this sense:
“And the banker never wears a mac in the pouring rain – very strange” – Penny Lane, The Beatles

“The man in the mac said you’ve gotta go back, you know they didn’t even give us a chance” – The Ballad Of John And Yoko, The Beatles

“Saw Johnny Scarecrow make his rounds in his jet-black mac, which he won’t give back… stole it from a snowman” – Mother Goose, Jethro Tull

Well, that’s enough of that.  On to…

The most decidedly final back for card #5:

As is often the case on Python when things get silly, Graham Chapman’s Colonel will come out to set things right.

I couldn’t find a suitable video clip of this, but I’ve transcribed for your ease of reading:

Right. Now, nobody likes a good laugh more than I do… except perhaps my wife… and some of her friends… Oh, yes, and Captain Johnson.  Come to think of it, most people like a good laugh more than I do, but that’s beside the point. If there is one more card number 5, I shall come down on this set like a ton of bricks!  Carry on.


That covers the numbering quirks of this set in overly-much depth. It’s funny in retrospect; leaving out numbers and duplicating numbers was intentional anarchy at the time, but since this set came out we’ve had card numbers left out because Topps “retired” #7 within a few sets as a “tribute” (feh!) to Mickey Mantle… and are duplicated numbers really all that different than the short-printed variations we’re all chasing?

As is all too often the case, what was satirical in the past becomes ordinary life in the present.

And with that I’ll end this particular chapter of my 1995 CCI Monty Python’s Flying Circus overview… but I do have more thoughts on card numbering which I’ll address in a future post (hopefully the next post if I can get it finished).

8 thoughts on “The Ministry Of Silly Numbering

  1. Monty Python, like Benny Hill and most British humor, flies right over my head. But that doesn’t keep these cards from being entertaining.

    When I saw your headline I thought you were going to be ranting about the goofy/cryptic way that Topps (and others I guess) number the subsets… HRC-MA is on the back of a Manny Machado Home Run card I have. Pfffft

  2. If I were randomly collecting this set… I’d be bouncing off the walls. Luckily I have this post as a reference if I ever stumble across these cards.

  3. I had no idea these existed and now I really, really want to get my hands on some. I mean, who wouldn’t want a card of the larch? (The. Larch.)

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