Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life is one of those movies that you don’t really enjoy that much at first viewing. Don’t get me wrong, there are laugh-out-loud moments. It’s just that it takes time for the full weight of the movie to, let’s say, fester in your mind.

But then, weeks/months/years later, you find yourself unexpectedly re-connecting with a part of it.

Ergo, The French Waiter Scene sees Eric Idle take the viewer on a protracted, shaggy-dog style journey to explain his personal philosophy; to finally concede that the revelation is only meaningful to him.

Every one of us has––at some time or other––been the French Waiter, trying to explain to friends, family or colleagues the profundity of some epiphany we’ve just had, only to be met with blank indifference.

Well, at least, this happens to me all the time.

But more importantly, The French Waiter Scene beautifully demonstrates the sheer stupidity of asking an audience to come with you on a journey without first giving them some idea; at least, a tiny, thin “waffer” of a hint of:

• who should come
• why they should come
• where they are going
• how long it will take
• what will happen when they get there

I see example after example after example of ads, promos and trailers that do exactly the same thing as the hapless Gaston; asking the audience to simply “trust them” and come on a journey, only to reveal the destination as a total disappointment.

Therefore, anything that does this is what I call a French Waiter.

Okay, imagine if you will, watching the whole French Waiter Scene, and at the end, another French Waiter pops up asking you to go with him on another journey that also ends pathetically. And then another French Waiter appears and beckons you to follow him, and so on, and so on…

That’s pretty much your modern day commercial break right there.

Posted by Charley Holland

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