Skip to main content
Monty Python's Spamalot Digital Study Guide.



Monty Python's Spamalot


Monty Python's Spamalot
Book and lyrics by Eric Idle
Music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle
A new musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"
From the original screen play by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
Directed by Lezlie Wade
Choreographed by Jesse Robb

House Program for Monty Python's Spamalot

Grade Recommendation Grade 7+

Content Advisory

Please see the show page for a detailed audience advisory. 

"And now for something completely derivative…" 

The musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail is back on stage! The winner of three Tony® Awards, including Best Musical, and a smash hit on Broadway and London's West End, Spamalot is the musical comedy sensation that will have you cheering on real knights riding imaginary horses. 

In a Medieval England beset by plague, strife and a dearth of shrubbery, the noble King Arthur and his newly minted Knights of the Round Table set out on a quest to find the Holy Grail. Their journey takes them to many a dark forest and perilous castle, where they battle cattle-tossing French soldiers, the annoying Knights Who Say "Ni" and a murderous bunny rabbit. Spamalot is the brainchild of Monty Python legend Eric Idle, who penned the score with long-time collaborator John Du Prez, a composer and conductor internationally recognized for his innovative film soundtracks. Showcasing original songs and skits along with classics from the Python back catalogue-including "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life"-the anarchic musical is a wholly original work as well as a tribute to England's greatest comedy troupe.

It's hard to imagine a better introduction to musical theatre for students. Younger audience members love the sight gags, song-and-dance numbers and silly humour while students more schooled in comedy and musical performance are won over by the show's sheer inventiveness and the always subversive Python wit. Spamalot plays fast and loose with the legendary tales of King Arthur but references the source material closely enough for an enrichening discussion with history-shy students. Behind the slapstick and Vegas-style dance numbers lurks a very serious critique of class and gender differences in Medieval Europe and the role of knights and nobility in early European history. How do the merry knights of Spamalot stack up against their historical counterparts? If King Arthur were transported to the Marvel Comics Universe, which hero or villain could he beat in a fight? If there were no actual song-and-dance numbers in ancient England, what music was performed at court and in the village hall? And where did Arthur and his merry band of adventurers get those coconuts? Enquiring minds will want to know.

Curriculum Connections

  • Global Competencies:
    • Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, Creativity, Metacognition
  • Grade 7-8
    • The Arts (Dance, Drama, Music, Visual Arts)
    • Language
  • Grade 9-12
    • The Arts (Dance, Drama, Music, Visual Arts)
    • English
  • Grade 11-12
    • Social Sciences and Humanities


  • Arthurian Legend
  • Bravery and Cowardice
  • Comedy: Dark Comedy, Farce, Satire, Absurdism, Spoof, Slapstick
  • Camelot
  • Chivalry
  • Gender Roles
  • The Medieval Period
  • Parody
  • Social Class
  • Theatrical Conventions
  • Quest & the Hero's Journey


Pre-Show Questions

  • What do you know about Monty Python? Why were they considered innovative?
  • What do you find funny? What styles of comedy appeal to you? Why?
  • What do you know about musical theatre? What are common musical theatre tropes or elements?
  • How have Jewish composers and lyricists uniquely contributed to the musicals we know today?
  • What is parody? Why might this musical be considered a parody?
  • What shows today parody current events? Why do you think they are so popular?
  • In comedy, what is "punching up"? Why do you think punching up is generally funnier and better received than punching down? While watching the show, reflect on whether Monty Python abided by this comedic approach and discuss whether you think it is important to do so.
  • What are stereotypes? In storytelling on stage and on screen, how are stereotypes employed and what are the repercussions of using them? Are there different "rules" in using stereotypes in comedy and, in particular, in parody? Why or why not?
  • What do you know about the Arthurian legend and the Knights of the Round Table?
  • What makes a good hero?
  • What qualities are most admired in a knight? Why? What do we least admire and why?

Post-Show Questions

  • What surprised you most about he play?
  • Did you find it funny? Why or why not?
  • The musical is set in the Medieval period. In what ways has society changed since then? What belief systems persist today?
  • In what ways did Monty Python's Spamalot use comedy to comment on societal issues?
  • Women are largely absent in this production, but the Lady of the Lake is one of the most powerful and important characters in the play. What do you make of this?
  • What is chivalry? Does this still exist today?
  • Does this musical resonate with contemporary understandings of gender, sexual orientation, culture, nationality and ethnicity? Discuss how audiences today might engage differently with this production in contrast to when it was first produced.
  • Does this musical resonate with contemporary understanding of gender? What are the similarities and differences?
  • What are you thoughts on the effect of "breaking the fourth wall" in this production? How is this done and what effect does this have on the audience's experience?
  • Are there any unintentional harms that might be caused through the production of this play? if so, what are they and what might be done to take care of the artists and audience members participating in the work?




Objective: Students will identify and explain the different types of comedy found in this musical and reflect on their own senses of humour.

Materials: Slips of paper, writing utensils, hat/basket, computer/internet access, Six Types of Humour Table.


  1. Remind students that this musical uses a variety of different types of comedy. Optional discussion prompts might include:
    • What makes something funny?
    • Why do we find some things to be humorous and some things not at all?
    • Is there a way to classify types of humour, and if so, how would you organize them?
  2. Introduce different types of humour. Write the following types of humour on six pieces of paper in a small hat or basket: Dark Comedy, Farce, Satire, Absurdism, Spoof, Slapstick 
  3. Divide the class into six groups and have each draw a piece of paper. 
  4. Invite each group to do some research into their chosen type of humour. Each group will prepare a short 5-10 minute presentation for the rest of the class on their chosen type. This presentation should include a definition of the type of humour and three examples (video or audio clips) to illustrate this.
  5. Once student have time to research and put together their presentations, invite them to share with the rest of the class.

Possible Extensions:

  • Comedy Scenes: Have each group create a short-scene (1-minute in length) using their chosen comedic style. Then have each group perform it for the class.
  • Compare and contrast: Watch the movie and invite students to think of similarities and difference between the movie and the stage musical.
  • Musical Analysis: Invite students to select a song from the musical. How do the elements of comedy present in the song (consider lyrics, musical elements, choreography, etc.)?    

 Debriefing Questions:

  • Is comedy universal? Why or why not?
  • Compare and contrast: Watch the movie and invite students to think of similarities and difference between the movie and the stage musical.
  • Musical Analysis: Invite students to select a song from the musical. How do the elements of comedy present in the song (consider lyrics, musical elements, choreography, etc.)?    



Spamalot isn't the first fun and frolicking medieval musical to hit the Stratford stage: Camelot, which also retells the story of King Arthur's Court, was staged at the Festival Theatre in both 1997 and 2011. The 2011 version featured two animal performers: a hawk which flew over the audience before returning to Merlin's arm and a canine named Ruffie who played the role of Horrid the Dog.


Members of the company in Camelot, 2011.

Members of the company in Camelot, 2011. Directed by Gary Griffin. Lyrics and Libretto by Alan Jay Lerner. Music by Frederick Loewe. Musical direction by Rick Fox. Set design by Debra Hanson. Costume design by Mara Blumenfeld. Lighting design by Alan Brodie. Sound design by Peter McBoyle. Photograph by David Hou. Stratford Festival Archives, GPO.2011.001.0537


The Stratford Festival's Archives maintains, conserves and protects records about the Festival and makes those materials available to people around the world. Their collection contains material ranging from 1952 right up to the present and includes administrative documents, production records, photographs, design artwork, scores, audio-visual recordings, promotional materials, costumes, props, set decorations and much more. These materials are collected and preserved with the aim of documenting the history of the Festival, preserving the page-to-stage process, and capturing the creative processes involved in numerous other activities that contribute to the Festival each season.



Trailer - Monty Python's Spamalot
House Program - Monty Python's Spamalot
Study Guide PDF - Monty Python's Spamalot

Study Guides

View past Study Guides and Study Guides for all 2023 plays, available free of charge on our website .


13 Types of Comedy: Popular Types of Comedic Performance (MasterClass)

Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy  (PBS)

Improv Warmups and Exercises - Quick demos (Canadian Improv Games)

John Du Prez talks about SPAMALOT! (Center Theatre Group)

Monty Python's Flying Circus (Britannica)

Ranking Musical Theatre Tropes  (Hope Wilson, YouTube)

Spamalot: The Complete and Utter History (Eric Idle)

Type of Comedy for Drama Class (Justin Cas, The Drama Teacher)

Writing satire: Are you punching up or punching down?  (Author Andrew Unger)

Stratford Public Library Suggested Reading List for Monty Python's Spamalot


Booking Information: Tickets, Workshops, Chats and Tours

Student Matinées

You may book any available date, but selected student matinée performances for this show are at 2:00 p.m. on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, April 19th
  • Monday, April 24th
  • Wednesday, April 26th
  • Tuesday, May 2nd
  • Thursday, May 4th
  • Wednesday, May 10th
  • Tuesday, May 16th
  • Wednesday, May 24th
  • Friday, May 26th
  • Tuesday, May 30th 
  • Friday, June 2nd
  • Tuesday, June 6th
  • Thursday, June 8th
  • Friday, June 16th
  • Tuesday, June 20th
  • Thursday, June 22nd
  • Friday, June 23rd
  • Friday, June 30th
  • Friday, September 1st
  • Wednesday, September 6th
  • Friday, September 15th
  • Wednesday, September 20th
  • Thursday, September 28th
  • Tuesday, October 3rd
  • Friday, October 6th
  • Thursday, October 12th
  • Wednesday, October 18th
  • Tuesday, October 24th

Workshops & Chats

Pre or Post-Show Workshops and Post-Show Chats (virtual, onsite or at your school/centre) can be booked by calling the Box Office at 1.800.567.1600.









Tools for Teachers include Prologues, Study Guides and Stratford Shorts.       


2019_BMO_White            RBC_White(1)