How to Irritate People

How to Irritate People

Infobox Film
name = How to Irritate People

caption = DVD cover
director = Ian Fordyce
producer = David Frost
writer = Tim Brooke-Taylor Graham Chapman John Cleese Marty Feldman
starring = John Cleese Tim Brooke-Taylor Graham Chapman Michael Palin
Gillian Lind Connie Booth Dick Vosburgh
released = 1968
runtime = 68 min.
country = United Kingdom
awards =
language = English
amg_id = 1:26343
imdb_id = 0063100

"How to Irritate People" is a 1968 television mockumentary written by John Cleese. It also features future Monty Python collaborators Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, and Connie Booth, as well as comic actor Tim Brooke-Taylor, later to become one of The Goodies. In various sketches, Cleese demonstrates exactly what the title suggests - how to irritate people, although this is done in a much more conventional way than the absurdity of similar Monty Python sketches.

Notable sketches

The notable features of this show are the "Car Salesman" sketch, Cleese's definition of a 'Pepperpot,' and the "Airplane Pilots" sketch.

Job Interview

The "Job Interview" sketch, starring Cleese as the interviewer and Brooke-Taylor as the interviewee, was later performed, almost unchanged in the first season of Monty Python's Flying Circus with Chapman as the interviewee. The "pepperpots" also recurred in many Monty Python sketches, and the "Freedom of Speech" segment was lifted from "At Last the 1948 Show".

Car Salesman

The "Car Salesman" sketch, in which Palin refuses to accept customer Chapman's claim that a car he sold is faulty, later inspired Python's Dead Parrot sketch in which the malfunctioning car is replaced by an expired parrot, Cleese plays the customer, and Palin plays the salesman.

Quiz Show

The "Quiz Show" sketch, where Brooke-Taylor, as a Pepperpot, annoys Cleese, a quiz show host, while appearing as a contestant on a show, was later adapted into another Monty Python sketch, where Terry Jones plays the contestant attempting to win the prize of a "blow on the head."


This film was directed by Ian Fordyce who also directed "At Last the 1948 Show", and was made in the UK for the American market in an attempt to introduce them to the new style of British humour. For this reason the recording is made to the NTSC colour standard. The idea for the show came from David Frost. The show was forgotten for some time until it was rediscovered in the nineties, and released in - apparently - a slightly shorter version.



DJ Yoda has sampled sections of this for his music.


The show has appeared on DVD, sometimes with "irritating" backward packaging and deliberately faulty navigation.


There is some confusion as to whether different versions of this show exist. It appears the show was never broadcast in the UK, but was first broadcast in the United States on 21 January 1969. Contemporary reviews suggest a broadcast slot of 60 minutes, which would make the version broadcast somewhat shorter than the current video release. In addition, reviews refer to David Frost as appearing in the show, who is absent from the video version. Michael Palin has also referred to the show being 'tightened up' for the video release.

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