Had a little chuckle over this one again recently.
John Cleese and Michael Palin performed many subsequent live performances of this Monty Python sketch throughout the years. The sketch is classic British comedy and very well known in UK. A while ago everyone knew it off by heart, including me, and it was very popular.
I did find another live version of the sketch some time ago but unfortunately I cannot locate it again for this post, which is a shame.
Some joker, maybe Palin himself, presented John Cleese with a cloth covered parrot cage. As he walked on stage for the performance the audience squealed with laughter as John pulled back the cloth revealing inside a large live red parrot - definitely not dead and definitely not a Norwegian Blue. Both Palin and Cleese collapsed in laughter and the whole sketch became instantly useless, with Cleese holding the cage high and saying, "This is what I call a live parrot!" The pet shop owner revelled in his ad-lib line, "I told you there was nothing wrong with it!" They both forgot their lines but by sheer genius Cleese shouted to the audience, "What comes next?" and instantly 40 voices delivered the correct cue and they had to ad lib all the way through imagining that the parrot was dead. They struggled through the sketch, including the part when the pet shop owner said he had a slug who could say a few words, which made Cleese laugh. If I had been there I would have asked the audience, "Has anyone got a dead parrot?", in an attempt to get the thing on track again.
Of the two Palin was the more likely to break down laughing during the sketch and he was inclined to alter the rules a bit without telling John. In one version when Cleese complained that the parrot was dead, Palin, as the pet shop owner, apologised and presented him with vouchers as compensation. Again the entire sketch was ruined as Palin disappeared from stage leaving a bewildered, open mouthed Cleese facing the audience in silence. You could see his 'gear wheels' revving like mad to think of something to say to rescue the situation! The audience screamed with laughter.
Whatever they did with it the sketch always ended in tumultuous applause, especially with the live red parrot version with the parrot still flapping it's wings announcing to the world it was very much alive. I'll look again for the You Tube - hope I can find it.