The Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things / Escape From Film

Toastmaster (Eric Idle): Gentlemen, pray silence for the President of the Royal Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things.

(There is much upperclass applause and banging on the table as Sir William rises to his feet.)

Sir William (Graham Chapman): I thank you, gentlemen. The year has been a good one for the Society.

Crowd: Hear! Hear!

Sir William: This year our members have put more things on top of other things than ever before. But, I should warn you, this is no time for complacency. No, there are still many things, and I cannot emphasize this too strongly, not on top of other things. I myself, on my way here this evening, saw a thing that was not on top of another thing in any way.

Crowd: Shame!! Shame!!

Sir William: Shame indeed, but we must not allow ourselves to become too despondent. For, we must never forget that if there was not one thing that was not on top of another thing our society would be nothing more than a meaningless body of men that had gathered together for no good purpose. But we flourish. This year our Australasian members and the various organizations affiliated to our Australasian branches put no fewer than twenty-two things on top of other things. (applause) Well done all of you. But there is one cloud on the horizon. In this last year our Staffordshire branch has not succeeded in putting one thing on top of another.

Crowd: Shame!! Shame!!

Sir William: Therefore I call upon our Staffordshire delegate to explain this weird behaviour.

(As Sir William sits a meek man met at one of the side tables.)

Mr Cutler (John Cleese): Er, Cutler, Staffordshire. Um... well, Mr Chairman, it's just that most of the members in Staffordshire feel... the whole thing's a bit silly.

(Cries of outrage. Chairman leaps to feet.)

Sir William: Silly?? SILLY!! (he pauses and thinks) Silly! I suppose it is, a bit. What have we been doing wasting our lives with all this nonsense? (hear, hear) Right, okay, meeting adjourned forever.

(He gets right up and walks away from the table to approving noises and applause. He walks to a door at the side of the studio set and goes through it. Exterior shot: a door opens and Sir William appears out of it into the fresh air. He suddenly halts.)

Sir William: Good Lord. I'm on film. How did that happen?

(He turns round and disappears into the building again. He reappears through door, crosses set and goes out through another door. He appears from the door into the fresh air and then stops.)

Sir William: It's film again. What's going on?

(He turns and disappears through the door again. Cut to him inside the building. He crosses to a window and looks out, then turns and says...)

Sir William: Gentlemen! I have bad news. This room is surrounded by film.

Members: What? What?

(Several members run to window and look out. Cut to film of them looking out of mindow. Cut to studio: the members run to a door and open it. Cut to film: of them appearing at the door hesitating and then closing door. Cut to studio: with increasing panic they run to the second door. Cut to film: they appear, hesitate, and go back inside. Cut to studio: they run to Sir William in the centre of the room.)

A Member: We're trapped!

Sir William: Don't panic, we'll get out of this.

A Member: How?

Sir William: We'll tunnel our way out.

Barnes (Michael Palin): Good thinking, sir. I'll get the horse.

Sir William: Okay Captain, you detail three men start digging and load them up with cutlery, and then we'll have a rota, we'll have two hours digging, two hours vaulting and then two hours sleeping, okay?

(Barnes and others carry a vaulting horse into shot. The members start vaulting over it. Two Gestapo officers walk by.)

Mr Cutler: All right, Medwin, let's see you get over that horse. Pick your feet up, Medwin. Come on, boy!

1st German Officer: Ze stupid English. Zey are prisoners and all they do is the sport.

2nd German Officer: One thing worries me, Fritz.

1st German Officer: Ja?

2nd Germam Officer: Where's the traditional cheeky and lovable Cockney sergeant?

Sergeant: (donning tin helmet) Cheer up, Fritz, it may never happen (sing) Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner...

2nd German Officer: Good. Everything seems to be in order.

(The Gestapo officers leave. Mr Cutler runs up to Sir William.)

Mr Cutler: Colonel! I've just found another exit, sir.

Sir William: Okay, quickly, run this way.

Everyone: If we could run that way... (he stops them with a finger gesture) sorry.

(ANIMATION: A bleak landscape. A large foot with a Victorian lady on top of it comes hopping past. A door in a building opens and the society members (real people superimposed) run out, along the cartoon, and disappear, falling into nothingness. Cut to section of an esophagus. The members (now animated cut-outs) fall down it into a stomach where they are joined by various large vegetables. Pull back to show that this is a cutaway view of an Edwardian gentleman. He belches.)

Animation Voice: Oh, I'm terribly sorry, excuse me.

(He moves through a door marked 'gents'. We hear a lavatory flushing. Cut to linkman at table.)

Linkman: Ah, hello. Well they certainly seem to be in a tight spot, and I spot... our next item - so let's get straight on with the fun and go over to the next item - or dish! Ha, ha!

Continue to the next sketch... Current Affairs