Bowie in a pierrot costume; Bowie in a padded room; Bowie suspended in a space suit, strung out in heaven's high, hitting an all-time Low...
The Dead Parrot sketch performed on Monty Python's Flying Circus in 1969
The Dead Parrot sketch, alternatively and originally known as the Pet Shop sketch or Parrot Sketch, is a popular sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus, one of the most famous in the history of British television comedy. It was written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman and first performed in the eighth episode of the show's first series ("Full Frontal Nudity", 7 December 1969).
It portrays a conflict between disgruntled customer Mr Praline (played by Cleese) and a shopkeeper (Michael Palin), who hold contradictory positions on the vital state of a "Norwegian Blue" parrot (an apparent absurdity in itself since parrots are popularly presumed to be tropical and not indigenous to Scandinavia, or perhaps a riff on the African Grey parrot, or both).
The sketch pokes fun at the many euphemisms for death used in English culture. In this it bears some resemblance to Mark Twain's earlier short story Nevada Funeral.
The "Dead Parrot" sketch was inspired by a "Car Salesman" sketch that Palin and Graham Chapman had done in How to Irritate People. In it, Palin played a car salesman who refused to admit that there was anything wrong with his customer's (Chapman) car, even as it fell apart in front of him. That sketch was based on an actual incident between Palin and a car salesman.
Over the years, Cleese and Palin have done many versions of the "Dead Parrot" sketch for various television shows, record albums, and live performances.