Oh bugger! (A public service announcement)

Le sketch The Word “Fuck” [mp3] [script], bien que confidentiel, a été largement attribué à Monty Python. Il semble que cela ait été par erreur : un témoignage affirme que l’auteur de la version finale fut un certain Jack Walker, connu pour ayant été «la voix de Disney» dans les parcs d’attraction de cette société. Ceci collerait également mieux à l’accent nord-américain cultivé qu’on peut entendre sur l’enregistrement.

I may have inadvertently contributed to circulating a falsehood. It concerns a brilliant bit of comedy that goes by the title The Usage of the Word “Fuck” or The History of the Word “Fuck” or simply Fuck, The Word. Neither the script nor the recording is particularly easy to find, but wherever I saw it referenced, it was attributed to Monty Python. The delivery and format are sufficiently Pythonesque that it never occurred to me to doubt their authorship, even though the cultured American-accented voice on the recording doesn’t seem to belong to any of the Pythons and the skit is not part of their famous collections.

This morning on IRC, Dan Dickinson kept insisting that this work couldn’t be Monty Python’s. He came up with a page that quotes an e-mail claiming that while the origins of the recording are still in the dark, the author and speaker of the final version was one Jack Wagner:

The guy who does the audio on the “Fuck, The Word” (aka “The Word Fuck”) track is NOT George Carlin, nor is it Monty Python, as is often credited.

It is the late Jack Wagner, the former ‘voice of Disneyland’.

I know, since I gave him the ORIGINAL copy on tape (before the internet) in 1989 during a time when we worked together. I have NO IDEA who did that version, but it was much shorter & the quality of the tape was quite poor. (Musicians, voiceover artists, engineers and other recording guys often traded tapes of rare & funny stuff. Unfortunately, quality was lost in generation after generations of copies.) Jack decided to re-do it, correcting some grammar and adding a few more examples of his own, then backed the whole thing up with the Vivaldi music.

I know this - I had the original copy and heard it first. Later, I heard from other techies at the park that he was so proud of it that he’d share it with everyone. I had always worried it would get him into trouble, but if ANYONE at Disneyland had ‘job security’, it would be him!

Years later when I heard it on the internet (the world’s bulletin board or bathroom wall), I just had to snicker. But we need to give credit where credit is due. His family may wish to forget it - the ‘park’ certainly does! - but he seemed to have been proud of it, so give him the creds.

The author of this missive wants to remain anonymous so as not to endanger his employment. But as anonymous e-mails go, this one is rather convincing. I’m happy to give credits to Jack Wagner. Even better: if this story is true, I see no reason not to make the recording [mp3] available for download.

Update, 2007-06-03: This little document is responsible for an astonishing part of my download bandwidth. I have therefore uploaded it to the Internet Archive and changed the link to their service. Many thanks.

Eric Idle, in his own words the “sixth nicest” Python, has recently been fined $5000 for pronouncing the word “fuck” during a radio show. He duly sat down and wrote a sweet little song dedicated to the FCC. You can download the mp3 from Monty Python themselves; the lyrics and another copy of the song are on Lisa Rein’s site. Monty Python’s site is well worth exploring, by the way.

Idle says it would cost a quarter of a million dollars to play the song on the US airwaves. I counted the swearwords and insults — there’s one every five seconds or thereabouts — and think he overstates its merits a little; but not by very much.

Originally via magpie, with thanks.