Bruces sketch

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Bruces sketch at Monty Python Live (Mostly) (London, 2014).

The Bruces sketch is a comedy sketch that originally appeared in a 1970 episode of the television show Monty Python's Flying Circus, episode 22, "How to Recognise Different Parts of the Body", and was subsequently performed on audio recordings and live on many occasions by the Monty Python team.

In reference to the sketch, Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson used the stage name "Bruce Bruce" while a member of the British hard rock band Samson.[1]


Eric Idle at Monty Python Live (Mostly), 2014.

The sketch involves a group of stereotypical "ocker" Australians of the period, who are all wearing khakis and cork hats. All are named Bruce, hence being known as the Bruces.

The skit begins with a group of men named Bruce sitting at a table, as someone sings Waltzing Matilda in the background; the Bruces are revealed to be the Philosophy Department at the fictitious University of Woolloomooloo (see below). The department appears to be situated in nothing more than a simple wooden building somewhere near Uluru/Ayers Rock (which is visible in the distance behind them) in Australia's Northern Territory.[2]

The Bruces all have a common fondness for lager beer and a dislike of "poofters" (a derogatory Australian and English slang word for a homosexual). Terry Jones plays a "pommie" professor, Michael Baldwin, joining the department and meeting his colleagues for the first time. Since his name is different from that of everyone else, Baldwin is asked if he minds being called "Bruce" to avoid confusion.

John Cleese's character (who in a later sketch is called Bruce Beer) recites the seven faculty rules at the University of Woolloomooloo:[3]

  1. No poofters.
  2. No member of the faculty is to maltreat the "Abos" in any way whatsoever—if there's anyone watching.
  3. No poofters.
  4. I don't want to catch anyone not drinking in their room after lights out.
  5. No poofters.
  6. There is no rule six.
  7. No poofters.


The sketch featured on the Matching Tie and Handkerchief album and in many of the team's stage shows, where it would be capped with a performance of "The Philosophers' Song". Free cans of Fosters beer were tossed to the audience with the addition of a joke about American beer given at Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl.

The song does not feature in the original television version, which instead ends with the first Bruce saying "Sidney Nolan! What's that?" pointing to the ear of fourth Bruce returning to that episode's running joke, "how to recognise different parts of the body", with the voice over saying, "Number nine. The ear." (the TV sketch began with "Number eight. The kneecap." and a closeup of the First Bruce's knee).

A slightly different version of the sketch is recorded on Monty Python Live at Drury Lane; the identity of "Bruce" is Lauchlan Chipman, Professor of Philosophy and friend of Michael Palin. Chipman was the founding Chairman of the Philosophy Department at the University of Wollongong.[4][5]


Eric Idle co-wrote the sketch with Cleese and said he based it on his Australian friends from the 1960s "who always seemed to be called Bruce".[6] Australian film director Bruce Beresford was friends with Idle while Idle was living in Notting Hill.[7]

The fictional University of Woolamaloo is based on either a misspelling of, or a name derived from, the Sydney suburb of Woolloomooloo; this is how the suburb is actually pronounced with an Australian accent; as mentioned above, Palin's friend Lauchlan Chipman founded the Philosophy Department at the University of Wollongong.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shooman, Joe (2007). Bruce Dickinson: Flashing Metal with Iron Maiden and Flying Solo. Independent Music. ISBN 0-9552822-4-1.
  2. ^ Chapman, Graham; Cleese, John; et al. (1990), Monty Python's Flying Circus – Just The Words, 1 (1990 ed.), London: Mandarin, p. 295, ISBN 978-0-7493-0226-9
  3. ^ Darl Larsen, Monty Python, Shakespeare, and English Renaissance drama
  4. ^ Chipman, Lauchlan (9 October 1977). "What Price the useless Arts?". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Publishing. p. 62. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  5. ^ Oppy, Graham; Trakakis, N. N.; et al. (2010). "Chapter 22". A companion to philosophy in Australia & New Zealand. Clayton, Vic.: Monash University Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9806512-0-1. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  6. ^ Johnson, Kim "Howard" (1989). The First 20 Years of Monty Python. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press. p. 107. ISBN 0-312-03309-5.
  7. ^ Question answered by Idle at VIP Meet and Greet session after Monty Python: Nearly Live at O2 on 19 July 2014