The Cheeseshop Sketch

(a customer walks in the door.)

Customer (John Cleese): Good Morning.

Owner (Michael Palin): Good morning, Sir. Welcome to the National Cheese Emporium!

Customer: Ah thank you my good man.

Owner: What can I do for you, Sir?

C: Well, I was, uh, sitting in the public library on Thurmon Street just now, skimming through 'Rogue Herrys' by Hugh Walpole, and I suddenly came over all peckish.

O: Peckish, sir?

C: Esuriant.

O: Eh?

C: 'Ee I were all 'ungry-like!

O: Ah, hungry!

C: In a nutshell. And I thought to myself, 'a little fermented curd will do the trick', so, I curtailed my Walpoling activites, sallied forth, and infiltrated your place of purveyance to negotiate the vending of some cheesy comestibles!

O: Come again?

C: I want to buy some cheese.

O: Oh, I thought you were complaining about the bouzouki player!

C: Oh, heaven forbid: I am one who delights in all manifestations of the Terpsichorean muse!

O: Sorry?

C: 'Ooo, Ah lahk a nice tune, 'yer forced to!

O: So he can go on playing, can he?

C: Most certainly! Now then, some cheese please, my good man.

O: (lustily) Certainly, sir. What would you like?

C: Well, eh, how about a little Red Leicester.

O: I'm, a-fraid we're fresh out of Red Leicester, sir.

C: Oh, never mind, how are you on Tilsit?

O: I'm afraid we never have that at the end of the week, sir, we get it fresh on Monday.

C: Tish tish. No matter. Well, stout yeoman, four ounces of Caerphilly, if you please.

O: Ah! It's beeeen on order, sir, for two weeks. Was expecting it this morning.

C: 'T's Not my lucky day, is it? Aah, Bel Paese?

O: Sorry, sir.

C: Red Windsor?

O: Normally, sir, yes. Today the van broke down.

C: Ah. Stilton?

O: Sorry.

C: Gruyere? Emmental?

O: No.

C: Any Norwegian Jarlsberger, per chance?

O: No.

C: Liptauer?

O: No.

C: Lancashire?

O: No.

C: White Stilton?

O: No.

C: Danish Blue?

O: No.

C: Double Gloucester?

O: (pause) No.

C: Cheshire?

O: No.

C: Dorset Blue Vinney?

O: No.

C: Brie, Roquefort, Pont-l'Eveque, Port Salut, Savoyard, Saint-Paulin, Carre-de-L'Est, Boursin, Bresse Bleu, Perle de Champagne?

O: No.

C: Camembert, perhaps?

O: Ah! We have Camembert, yessir.

C: (suprised) You do! Excellent.

O: Yessir. It's ah... it's a bit runny.

C: Oh, I like it runny.

O: Well,.. It's very runny, actually, sir.

C: No matter. Fetch hither the fromage de la Belle France! Mmmwah!

O: I...think it's a bit runnier than you'll like it, sir.

C: I don't care how fucking runny it is. Hand it over with all speed.

O: Oooooooooohhh........! (pause)

C: What now?

O: The cat's eaten it.

C: (pause) Has he?

O: She, sir.


C: Gouda?

O: No.

C: Edam?

O: No.

C: Caithness?

O: No.

C: Smoked Austrian?

O: No.

C: Japanese Sage Darby?

O: No sir.

C: You... do have some cheese, don't you?

O: (brightly) Of course, sir. It's a cheese shop, sir. We've got-

C: No no... don't tell me. I'm keen to guess.

O: Fair enough.

C: Uuuuuh, Wensleydale.

O: Yes?

C: Ah, well, I'll have some of that!

O: Oh! I thought you were talking to me, sir. Mister Wensleydale, that's my name.


C: Greek Feta?

O: Uh, not as such.

C: Uuh, Gorgonzola?

O: No

C: Parmesan?

O: No

C: Mozzarella?

O: No

C: Pippo Creme?

O: No

C: Danish Fimboe?

O: No

C: Czech sheep's milk?

O: No

C: Venezuelan Beaver Cheese?

O: Not -today-, sir, no.


C: Aah, how about Cheddar?

O: Well, we don't get much call for it around here, sir.

C: Not much ca--It's the single most popular cheese in the world!

O: Not 'round here, sir.

C: (slight pause) and what IS the most popular cheese 'round hyah?

O: 'Illchester, sir.

C: IS it.

O: Oh, yes, it's staggeringly popular in this manusquire.

C: Is it.

O: It's our number one best seller, sir!

C: I see. Uuh... 'Illchester, eh?

O: Right, sir.

C: All right. Okay. 'Have you got any?' He asked, expecting the answer 'no'.

O: I'll have a look, sir.. nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnno.

C: It's not much of a cheese shop, is it?

O: Finest in the district sir!

C: (annoyed) Explain the logic underlying that conclusion, please.

O: Well, it's so clean, sir!

C: It's certainly uncontaminated by cheese.

O: (brightly) You haven't asked me about Limburger, sir.

C: Would it be worth it?

O: Could be.


O: Told you sir...

C: (slowly) Have you got any Limburger?

O: No.

C: Figures. Predictable, really I suppose. It was an act of purest optimism to have posed the question in the first place....... Tell me:

O: Yessir?

C: (deliberately) Have you in fact got any cheese here at all?

O: Yes,sir.

C: Really?


O: No. Not really, sir.

C: You haven't.

O: Nosir. Not a scrap. I was deliberately wasting your time,sir.

C: Well I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to shoot you.

O: Right-0, sir.

(The customer takes out a gun and shoots the shopkeeper)

C: What a senseless waste of human life.

Continue to the next sketch... Philip Jenkinson on Cheese Westerns